The Labour blogs have been buzzing lately after a poll emerged showing the Coalition’s approval ratings dipping in to the negative for the first time since they took office and amid increasing criticism of the cuts programme. Personally I don’t think we should pay much heed to this poll because overall I believe the majority of opinion polls are still putting the Coalition comfortably ahead of Labour and we have to bear it mind that it is of course inevitable that as the reality of the cuts to come sets in people will start to, in the words of Thatcher, go a bit “wobbly”. The only poll we should be concerned about is the General Election which, hopefully, will not occur for a good few years yet.
There was general consensus before and immediately after the election that Labours deficit must be dealt with as swiftly as possible. Both Labour, the Liberals and the Conservatives pledged to deal with the deficit as a top priority, with the Coalition preffering to deal with it sooner rather than later. However as the day draws closer to when that pledge is put in to practise the public are naturally starting to feel a bit jittery. The cruel reality is that we were elected on a platform of cuts and we will be unpopular as a result. The idea of dealing with the deficit is afterall alot more appealing than the reality in the minds of many voters and, as was the case in the 1980’s, the Conservatives and their coalition counterparts the Liberals, must sacrifice their own personal popularity for the longterm economic wellbeing of the nation.
The purpose of this blog however is to turn the spotlight on Labour for a minute as they strive so desperately to keep it on us. Yes as they constantly point out the situation in the Coalition camp is far from perfect and it is true that we are in for a rough ride as we clean up Labours mess, but be in no doubt; they are in a deep deep hole and while this government has its problems it is far more popular than the one that preceeded it. Indeed a poll published to mark 100 days of the coalition government showed that 43% of voters thought the new government was performing better than the last one, with just 26% saying it performed worse with Cameron and Clegg receiving strong personal approval ratings in addition. By that logic it is the publics opinion that while this government is far from perfect its still leagues ahead of the last. Absence is not making the publics heart grow fonder for Labour as they would like us to believe.
In addition the situation in the Labour camp is going from bad to worse. Not content with bankrupting the nation it would appear that Labour has bankrupted itself! Now we all knew Labour was morally bankrupt but it appears its extravagence and irresponsibility with the nations finances was mirrored in its own party finances as John Prescott revealed recently that the Labour Party is dangerously close to bankrupcy. In a revealing interview Prescott candidly admitted that Labours finances were in dire straights and intriguingly he claimed “membership of the party was falling dramatically”. Doth my ears deceive me? Since the election we’ve been hearing nothing else from Labour other than how disillusioned Liberals were jumping ship in their droves and membership rates were surging. Could it be that Labour have been telling, in the spirit of John Prescott, “porky pies” once again? It would appear so.
To add to the Labour Partys woes the Unions are once again flexing their muscles as news of Labours dire party finances broke. It would appear judging from comments made by Paul Kenny, General Secretary of the GMB, that Labours union paymasters are seeking to tighten the financial noose in order to influence the Labour leadership election and future policy platform of the party. Mr Kenny cryptically said when questioned over whether a victory for any candidate other than union darling Ed Milibland could prompt the union to withdraw its funding; “If the new leader offers us more of the same, many unions — including our own — would have to consider where we are at. Ed Miliband is not ashamed of Labour’s core values”. One can only hope that Mr Kenny is referring to the same “Labour values” that led Thatcher and Major to four landslide General Election triumphs! These remarks have prompted thinly veiled attacks to be fired back and forth between the old guard and the modernisers with both Kinnock and Mandelson speaking out and Blair widely anticipated to launch a scathing attack on Browns premiership when he speaks out for the first time tommorrow night.
The truth is beneath all the rhetoric of “unity” and despite their desperate attempts to keep the spotlight on us, Labour is deeply divided in much the same way the Tories were in the wake of the 1997 defeat. They are engaged in a bitter struggle between the “Thatcherlite New Labourites”, Blair, Mandelson, Milibland (D) and the old guard “old Labourites” the Unions, Kinnock, Hattersley and Milibland (E). What with the unions threating the party’s financial future further, membership rates plunging and the public showing no signs of forgiving them for the mess they’ve made Labour may be left with little option but to lurch to the left which will undoubtedly deliver electoral oblivion come the next General Election. So yes the Coalition has a job on its hands to get this country back on track but we can take heart from the fact that Labour and its divided and dilluded rank and file are the least of our problems.