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Labour Local Election Council Gains Hides Deeper Failure

ElectionOracle / UK Politics May 06, 2011 - 12:14 PM GMT

By: Submissions


The leading left of centre pressure group Compass have reacted to the ‘Super Thursday’ elections by stating that what lies beneath the mixed results for Labour is a real concern.

Neal Lawson, Chair of Compass said:

“These results show that Labour is flat lining from its terrible result at the general election. It still looks, feels and acts too much like New Labour.

Ever since the leadership campaign Labour has been in denial about the scale of its loss and the bankruptcy of so many policies that contributed to that loss.

In the absence of such a plan too many in Labour’s ranks console themselves with a hatred of Nick Clegg when the real enemy is David Cameron. The Party finds local consolation in big northern cities for our national loss. Labour wins by-elections and local elections but remains far from real power”

The early results suggest:

Scotland may be the ghost of Labour future nationally. A party that has failed to renew finds itself left in the cold. Running campaigns on the fear of something worse. It is not just the sabre rattle of independence that should chill Labour in London but the fact that the electorate is less committed to particular parties than ever, and will support governments it sees as ‘competent’ in relation to dealing with their country’s problems.

The Liberal Democrats find themselves in a terrible place; faring disastrously in the councils especially in the north in and looking like they have been comprehensively denied AV. Whatever sympathy anyone had about the cards the electorate dealt them last May, any attempt to define the Coalition as a happy and welcome ideological fusion of liberalism and conservatives has horribly backfired. Those not signed up to an Orange Book agenda - it seems the vast majority of the Lib Dem grassroots - should work with pluralists and market skeptics in Labour and beyond on issues like NHS reform and banking restructuring.

Liberal Democrats like Chris Huhne and Vince Cable can never again argue for a progressive majority from the perceived position of a regressive Coalition. They have to demonstrate that for them the Coalition is a temporary and unwelcome necessity.

As a result of the referendum campaign Labour is now divided, not just on the basis of left/right – but between pluralists and tribalists. The democracy divide which cuts right through the Party is not a slight policy difference that can be papered over but represents a polar difference in political culture.

One silver lining from the campaign across the country and at more senior level is that Labour people worked with Liberal Democrats and Greens to make the progressive case for change. Caroline Lucas in particular did a sterling job and raised her profile and that of her party.

For now and perhaps for the foreseeable future, it is the Tories that rule supreme. They have lost little in terms of councils. It looks like they have fended off the threat of electoral reform. Their Coalition partners are weaker and they are still polling at the same level as last year despite all the outrage at the cuts.

This is why Compass continues to build the intellectual and organisationalbasis of a real alternative – a good society that is more equal, sustainable and democratic. This cannot be the project of any single party. Neither Labour, social Liberals or Greens hold all the cards, but if played together might end the neo-liberal nightmare we have been living through for too long. A majority can be mobilized for progressive politics but it needs sustained and brave leadership to activate it.

For further information contact Neal Lawson on 07976292522 or Joe Cox on 07796884487

Compass are holding an event titled ‘After May 5th: what future for centre-left politics?' at 6.30pm - 8pm on Tuesday 10th May 2010 at the Abbey Centre, Great Smith Street in Westminster. High-profile speakers include: Caroline Lucas MP; Jon Cruddas MP; Lisa Nandy MP; Lord Matthew Oakeshott; Polly Toynbee,The Guardian; Prof John Curtice, Strathclyde University; Pam Giddy, Yes to Fairer Votes and chaired by Compass Chair Neal Lawson. Media are warmly invited.

- Compass is the UK's most influential political pressure group with over 40,000 members and supporters across the UK. Together we campaign for a more democratic, equal and sustainable society. See for more details.

- Neal Lawson is on the Board of the Yes campaign

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