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.