A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Save the Wales

One of the less valid arguments being spouted last night for a precipitous change of PM was that this will somehow save the seats of some MSPs, Welsh Assembly Members and Councillors next year.

Even if there was still going to be a bounce in the polls when Blair steps down, which looks less likely as the infighting surrounding the changeover will have pissed off more voters than the change of face will please, I despair at the kind of politician who places responsibility for their local or devolved election results on Labour nationally.

Local elections should be about the performance of local councils.

Devolved elections should be about the performance of Rhodri Morgan or Jack McConnell, not the incumbent of No10.

As soon as you start suggesting to voters that they might use them as a referendum on the government, of course they will. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The linkage is very easy to break. You campaign on local issues and you campaign all year round.

If it wasn't easy to break how come Wales posted appalling results in 1999 when Labour was riding high in the UK polls yet improved on these in 2003 in the middle of the Iraq War? And how come boroughs like Hackney, Lambeth and Islington produced thumping Labour results this May when the national picture was so bad?

If only the energy currently being expended on plots, letters and media grandstanding was being expended on canvassing and leafletting for next May's elections. If only.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rather unwisely you ask "how come Wales posted appalling results in 1999 when Labour was riding high in the UK polls yet improved on these in 2003 in the middle of the Iraq War?"

The answer (as every politically conscious Welshman knows) is that in 1999 Welsh Labour had a hugely unpopular leader (Alun Michael). By 2003 he had been replaced by a far more popular "traditional Labour" leader, Rhodri Morgan.

The moral of the story: if you want to bounce back from the depths of unpopularity, change your leader!

By a strange coincidence, the man who succeeded Rhodri Morgan as MP for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) is one of the members of the government's lower rungs who have advised Blair to quit.

9:35 am, September 07, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Or another moral from Wales might be ... don't impose your leader through an old-fashioned stitch-up in the first place.

9:58 am, September 07, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

True enough - let's have an open contest. Let us have Gordon Brown opposed by a hard left candidate, as looks likely if McDonnell can get enough nominations, and let us also have a candidate from the wing of the party that believes the most important voters for Labour to target are those who pay inheritance tax.

That way Brown can carve out a traditional Labour position that is distinct from both the Campaign Group and Blatcherism.

The difference between now and the Welsh situation is that Rhodri Morgan was, in a sense, the Welsh Gordon Brown - the man who looked certain to win a democratic contest within the party and had to be stopped by the Blairite stitch-up.

Since the same type of stitch-up is not possible against Brown, the Blairite strategy seems to have been to delay the PM's departure for as long as possible, in the hope that an alternative candidate would mature into credibility, while using the time to try to lock Brown ever closer into Blairism.

10:27 am, September 07, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin Brennan refused to sign the letter when asked, people shouldn't believe what they read in the Indy.

11:26 am, September 07, 2006

Blogger Harry Perkins said...

He didn't sign the Watson letter (or perhaps backed down from it) or he would have had to quit as well, but AFAIK Brennan has not denied having sent his own letter to the PM, also conveying the message that it was time for Blair to go.

11:45 am, September 07, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not denying something does not mean that you have actually done it - I haven't denied eating porridge for breakfast, but I didn't!

12:40 pm, September 07, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Lord, Tom Watson and Mark Tami quitting the Govt in protest at Blair and now Luke Akehurst coming out against old-fashioned stitch-ups.

What has happened to Labour First?!

10:05 pm, September 07, 2006


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