The Speccie CoffeeHouse blogger, Peter Hoskin has written an interesting piece about how Labour's strategy is stuck in the past. It's a good point really, that the when the Labour Party essentially believe that the Tories are "retreating" to where they were in the early 1990s they should therefore argue along the lines of "Labour investment versus Tory cuts".
As Hoskin points out though, the news from the likes of the IMF about the depth of the UK recession, and also from the Institute for Fiscal Studies about how spending must be reined in, you have to wonder whether this strategy will have any chance of working. More so though for me, there is aparticular demographic that Labour are missing a trick on, and that is the first time voter at the next General Election.
Think about it for a moment. Unless you're born inot a deeply politically active family, you don't really become politically conscious until what? Ten years old at the very earliest perhaps? There is going to be a great swath of new voters out there who will only ever have really known Labour in power, the memories of the early 1990s will not ring for them, so the salience of the term "cuts" will not conjure up the same disingenuous images.
This is something that I have argued with Labour friends for some time now. That the tried and tested arguments of the 1997, 2001 and (at least in some respects 2005) are not going to work when they go for a fourth term, precisely because the "remember what the Tories were like 20 years ago" line just won't resonate anymore. This should be obvious to the Labour strategists given the clear evidence that the Tory brand has been, as it were, decontaminated.
This self-evident change, and also demographic change appears to be passing them by though. They have failed to notice, as Peter says, that there is a contradiction between the "belt-tightening" argument they acknowledge and make towards the many, with the profilgate Government spending argument made by the few. Meanwhile, the generation born in the late Tory years, but becoming politically aware in the the Labour years, stand there and shrug their shoulders when they get told how evil the Tories are.
The once simple mantra of "after 18 years of Tory rule" is going to replaced by "after 13 years of Labour rule", and for some reason the Labour Party just don't want to see what is coming and instead fight the battles of the past which have no credence for so many anymore. UK Plc is verging on bankruptcy, we all know it, and everytime we hear Brown tell us otherwise or boast about how he is leading the world we just laugh at the absurdity of it all.