Posts Tagged ‘deficit denial’

How many times must we lose for the same reason?

10/05/2011, 07:00:49 AM

by Dan Hodges

RIP the progressive majority. “There never was any progressive majority strategy”, a member of Ed Miliband’s inner circle told me yesterday. “People have misunderstood the game plan. We’re not going to be making some desperate appeal to the Lib Dems. We’re going to be saying to them, ‘you’ve been duped, wouldn’t you be better off on board with us'”?

The claim that Labour’s leader never envisaged marching up Downing Street with a crowd of exultant  liberal progressives is a touch disingenuous. “I want to see Labour become home to a new progressive majority”, Ed said in August. Labour must “earn the right to be the standard-bearer for the progressive majority in this country”, he repeated in January. “A yes vote would, above all, reflect confidence that there is a genuine progressive majority in this country”, he urged in May.

But ultimately, it doesn’t matter. One of the hallmarks of good leadership is the speed with which you learn from your mistakes, and if Ed Miliband’s immediate reaction to last Thursday is to extricate himself from his liberal progressive cul de sac, it’s a positive sign.

One of the few. “We just can’t believe it”, an exultant Tory MP told me, “We actually gained seats. It’s incredible”. Many Labour insiders reflect that view. “Don’t be fooled”, said one shadow cabinet source, “These results were dire. Much worse than people realise”.

The line from those around the leader is that while the solidity of the Tory vote was troubling, they still secured an important tactical victory. “We’ve torn away the shield”, said one. “The Lib Dems were giving the Tories  cover, and we’ve smashed them. Cameron’s peachy pink arse is exposed now”.

Whether the prime minister has indeed been debagged is an open question. But what is not in dispute is that this was the voters’ first opportunity to pass judgment on the coalition since the election, in particular the cuts and higher taxes that constitute their deficit reduction strategy. And in the case of the Tories, they gave a reluctant but clear thumbs up.


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