Monday, December 24, 2007

2007 marked Year Zero for Labour

Some bloggers may be reviewing the year in the next few days, so I thought I would do the same. However, I'm not going to review th events of the year as such, I'm just going to name the single most important and significant day in UK politics this year and it was May 2nd 2007, this was when Year Zero began for the Labour Party.

What do I mean by that? Well, the day that ten years passed since the 1997 election victory, the day that the history went into double figures, was also the day that New Labour became Old New Labour. The Blairites understood this, and so I think did some of the Brownites, that is what they meant when they kept talking about "renewal".

They understood that the message was becoming stale. I can rcall, just before the 2005 General Election that I said, in response to a Labour member saying that they were now the "natural party of Government" that they wouldn't win a fourth term.

I said the reason would be because they would no longer be able to trade on the old message before and that the strategy of having a permanant Opposition attitude towards Government, the rolling campaign and driving home of the same message would start to wain as the time beteen themselves and the last Government edged into double figures.

The old New Labour message of "18 years of Tory rule", "no more boom and bust", "low inflation" and "low interest rates" would begin to hold ever decreasing salience for the voting populace. Memories can be easily tapped when it's less than ten year ago, but if the next election is in 2010 a Government in power for 13 years, cannot seriously expect to trade on memory that are at best 20 years old and in some case over 30.

The evidence for this can be seen in the Independent's poll today by ComRes. It has found that the "time for change" message is starting to gain ground in peoples' minds. That's not simply because of what the Fabian called the "autumn horribilis" it is linked to the idea that New Labour is now actually Old New Labour.

When large parts of the electorate see Gordon Brown talk about not wanting to return to the Tory days of the late 80s and 90s they ask themselves, quite rightly, how something that happened 20 years ago relates to them today. They see a man that has been at the helm alongside the last Prime Minister throughout the last ten years and are not so stupid to think that he cannot be held responsible for things that might happen now.

"Thatcher's Blame", the ability to relate any sort of problem back to Thatcher or the previous Tory Administration in general and, crucially, to make it sound plausible has now passed. That is why May 2nd 2007 was the first day of Year Zero for the Labour Party. That is why the New Labour message, so carefully and brilliantly crafted by Campbell, Mandelson et al is no longer suitable.

That particular political meme is now dead. In the coming year there will be a new message that becomes dominant. Which party it comes from is unknown of course, but what is certain is that the electorate no longer hears the politics of fear about events that have now passed the decade milestone.

"Labour isn't working" was a powerful message that eventually didn't hit the spot anymore. The same is true of "18 Years of Tory Rule and boom and bust". If Brown and his inner-circle realise that fact they may yet turn it around, but it may actually be too late.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dizzy

While 2nd May marked 10 years of New Labour, I suggest that 3rd May was actually more significant, being the day that Labour lost the Election (in Scotland).

Scotland had been a Labour fiefdom for many years so the result there marked a huge political change, one whose reverbrations are still being felt in the UK as a whole.

The SNP victory may have been partly due to their slogan---"It's time" (for change),but I don't suppose the SNP will object to Cameron using it.

mitch said...

shush they might be listening you know they like to steal good ideas!

lettersfromatory said...

I don't see Gordon's 'new recruits' in his cabinet mystically acquiring powers of foresight, planning or strategy - so I think the Conservatives are safe for now.

sturgess said...

Before writing off Gordon I would hold until next year, or even the year after that. A week is a long time bit comes to mind, how about a couple of years is even longer and Gordon has that amount if he so chooses. Lots of time for team Camerloon to go over the top, they can't stay squeaky clean for two years, you know they can't.

verity said...

Also, these constant references to 15 and 20 years ago are beginning to bear the burnish of nostalgia and people are beginning to long for a return.

I agree, the New Labour meme has ground to a noisy halt and will henceforth work against it.

Unsworth said...

@ Sturgess

And Nulab has been unable to stay squeeky clean for ten years. So what chance is there of it cleaning up its image? Each day that passes is a day closer to a General Election. Labour have got themselves into a position of public loathing and contempt of historical proportions.

To quote: "There is nothing you could say to me now that I would ever believe."

javelin said...

The economy is fucked - who cares about the brand.

I thought I'd pst this here rather than Iain or Guido, Iain has turned into some kind of Saturday night Channel 4 top 100 show and Guido is probably pissed under a tree somewhere.

Yesterday in the Telegraph one economist was arguing for interest rate cuts and the other for inflation control - on opposite pages. Who was right? - both of them of course. It's not a choice between a rock and a hard place it's where the hard landing is going to take place.

Global inflation caused by the Government supporting corporate expansionism - means cheap labour is going to run out in a couple of years. Imported goods will not only rise in price but will be out of the Governments control - without EU intervention.

Oil won't run out - but it will make everything more expensive, especially in the US. Driving down US productivity and expenditure.

National personal debt and Government debt are at record levels. Personal debt means we are very sensitive to interest rate rises. Government debt means interest rate rises will be necessary to kerb inflation.

The Government has grown leading to inefficient and unproduct use of tax payers money. It will be very hard to reduce the size of Government without bringing unemployment to Labour Heartlands, where sustainable employment has not been created. Companies are burdened with red tape - not though simple, reversable tax rises but complex, systemic legislation which will take years to unpick.

I work in structured credit in one of the world's largest banks - and unlike other bank we managed our risks well and haven't made a profit. On most of the trading floor things still feel rosy, but the reality is an economic tsunami.

The FTSE is being propped up by the international demand for raw materials - and mining stocks. Banking and property stock (i.e. assets) have nearly halved over the past year. The FTSE typically signals the economy in 2-3 years and if it is anything to go by we will be in a recession in 2 years.

In the year 2000 the stock market "crashed" over an 18 month period, it happened in slow-motion, the severity was lower than 1987 but not the degree. Today the economy is on the upswing - and we have inflationary pressures creating credit triggers (e.g. US sub-prime CDO issues failing) in the same way that the inflationary swing in the early 90s saw our exit from the ERM. We are at the retail end of the economic cycle when travel companies, shops, retail bank and service industries fail. The year 2000 was the investment end of the cycle, when there was a structural failure. There are no rules to say whether the retail of the investment end of the economic cycle will cause the bigger problems. It is entrely possible that the softer investment landing the harder the retail landing.

This time the problem is global. It is entirely wrong to characterise the credit-crisis as being caused by contagion. The credit crisis is not the underlying disease spreading, the credit crisis is a symptom of poor credit risk management by banks, corporates and Governments.

Banks are now managing their risks more realistically. In the corporate market that means interbank lending stopping, no junk-bond issues since August, M&A activity stopping, hedge-fund growth stopping. Mortgages rates will now rise for low income people, people on benefits, people in ex-council, low skilled self-employed and people who can't prove their income.

Nu Labour are fucked, brand people everything. There is nothing any of them can do about it. It's just small matter of time before the whole gaping sore bursts open.

Ed said...

The "end to Tory boom and bust" is well and truly blown. The "rock" upon which Brown's reputation was built has turned out to have been rather flimsier than he hoped.

canvas said...

Labour's rhetoric is stale and exhausted.

Holding on to 'a message' that no longer resonates only alienates people.

It is the beginning of the end for New Labour...

comfy socks and co-op rum said...

Well who are we all going to vote for I wonder. You really think Cameron will be a good choice ? surely not, if yes explain why and name two of his team without googling.
Verity, been told by Mr. Dale to sling your hook have you ? Your posts are usually longer than todays bit, always tedious and often nasty.
Javelin, talking of long and boring.
Mitch is there a blog you don't post on, any blog ?
Unsworth "There is nothing you could say to me now that I would ever believe." I think your comments are very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Don't you mean year ZERO?

Anonymous said...

Sotty, I mean year ONE.