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, December 09, 2010

After the vote

I've already blogged about the violent minority who hijack demos for their own political ends so I won't repeat my take on that. They are responsible for their own actions which are deplorable, have damaged the cause they claim to support, and ought to be universally condemned, but the context in which this kind of political violence can thrive is a Government which is promoting policies that are extreme and socially divisive and for which no mandate exists. You don't get riots against policies that have public consent or a clear electoral mandate. The mandate that exists if the LDs and Tories form a coalition is for policies to the left of the Tories' manifesto - not for the radical rightwing government we have.

The vote itself on fees was infinitely depressing in that half the LDs stuck with the Tories despite their pledge on the issue making this one where they were particularly vulnerable to pressure, and where the people affected were a core component of Lib Dem support. It suggests there is little hope they will see reason on other issues like cuts to DLA mobility allowance for care home residents or the Housing Benefit changes. I worry that in both those cases the victims - the disabled and those on benefit - lack the organisational infrastructure and the tradition of protest and indeed parliamentary lobbying to mobilise as the students (the mainstream NUS ones not the violent idiots) have. Solidarity with the most vulnerable victims of Coalition policies is going to be important, otherwise the fees issue will be seen as the high-water mark of protest, not the seeds of a bigger movement.

The LDs have voted to hit one of their own core groups of voters very hard. This suggests they will have even less compunction about hitting groups of voters who are either overwhelmingly Labour or excluded from the political process.

We are in for a very bleak five years, leaving us with a harsher society which will have taken on some of the worst characteristics of the US economic system. Key pillars of the British version of the North European social democratic consensus that Thatcher never dared attack will be eroded. And with the majority to vote through those policies being supplied by people who ran for election as progressives and have systematically cheated the electorate, led by Ministers like Cable and Huhne who were SDP defectors from Labour.

It will be easy to punish the LDs - they are already down to 8% nationally and 3% in the North - but a lot more difficult to stop the Tories splitting the country as they did in the '80s, carefully ensuring that they keep just enough people on their side to win the 2015 election and indeed being relatively generous to groups such as pensioners with a high propensity to vote. The big danger is that we end up as a coalition of victims: the young, the poor, ethnic minorities, public sector workers, the unemployed. Do the maths - it isn't enough to win a General Election. One bonus is that unlike the '80s there is a united opposition the LDs having left the progressive cause to Labour. But the scale of the mess the country is heading towards is truly terrifying and Labour activists need to guard against thinking that just because we can see how awful the Coalition is, that will lead to an election-winning coalition of votes in 2015. It's going to be a long haul.


Anonymous Rich said...

Well yes, but don't count on the support of the lib dems if things go wrong. Plus it wouldn't be wise to look for the lib dems for support when you look how much trust has been lost in the lib dems.

When the elections come and it's my belief it will next year
labour will need a convincing majority and the way to achieve this is to attack the lib dems and to target marginals lost at the last election.

11:39 pm, December 09, 2010

Blogger Timothy Godfrey said...

The problem with this post is that you start with the violence. Since when was Kettling a British way to police? Such tactics simply intimidate and make the situation worse. As does mounted police (ok for peaceful demonstration, but not when things turn difficult)

The proof of this played out on TV when the Treasury building came under attack. 20 riot police marched in and sorted it out.

Is the Met/Mayor/Home secretary happy to have these pictures beamed around the world?

I make no excuse for violence, but the police tactics were hardly organised to make sure the demo ended peacefully!

The above scentence and your blog have just done the work of the Tories/Lib Dems for them. We must keep this debate on the issue.

Should a first degree be paid for through general taxation?

Since graduates 'earn more' they pay more tax. Tax is good. Education is good. Therefore the arguement should be straightforward.

The fact it isn't is because when we were in goverenment we complicated it!

Time to move on. Time to argue for universal access to degree education, just like the argument for secondary education.

1:12 am, December 10, 2010

Blogger Mark Still News said...

On the 24th of November 2010 the Police Kettled in thousands of peaceful law abiding students and many were minors concerned with the future of higher education. The weather conditions were freezing all day and there was no sanitation, food and drink available no police bothered to contact their frantic parents to let them know what happening as the Demo was only meant to be a few hours not 10. The practise of kettling is a bad police crowd control method, as you need to get rid of the crowds quickly and safely, the person in charge of the operation that day should be sacked and sued for illegal unlawful detention, failing to abide by the procedures when dealing with minors, the Health & safety, and failing to abide by the Human rights laws of providing facilities for the detainees!

The LIB/DEMS can't be trusted leave them in bed with the Tories, perhaps they might even split and form another LIB/DEM party more moderate leaning. I wouuld rather make agreements with a 2nd hand car salesman than a LIB/DEM any day!

9:36 am, December 10, 2010

Blogger Hughes Views said...

Just as depressing has been the Labour leadership's feeble response to the debate. Rather than embarking on an esoteric discussion about the relative merits of loan repayments vs a graduate tax*, they should have been railing against the cuts to university and college funding and, especially, EMA.

If children can't afford to stay at school to do A levels, the way degree courses are funded becomes rather irrelevant to them.

*if the latter's such a fine idea, why did Labour opt for the former?

12:45 pm, December 10, 2010

Anonymous Ryan Thomas said...

"The mandate that exists if the LDs and Tories form a coalition is for policies to the left of the Tories' manifesto - not for the radical rightwing government we have."

This sentence sums it up perfectly. I think we have got a glimpse of just how far the Lib Dems have travelled, ideologically-speaking, and just how much they have sold out their membership, supporters, and voters.

8:35 pm, December 10, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

" You don't get riots against policies that have public consent or a clear electoral mandate."

Yes you do - from bitter self righteous leftists whose only principle is that Tories are all evil and therefore Tory Governments are illegitimate and have to brought down or frustrated.

The middle and upper class left are worst for this priggery. I bet we don't get this rioting from the working class over real cuts rather than Tarquin and Jemima having to pay for three years at art college.

1:40 pm, December 11, 2010

Blogger johnpaul said...

I have to disagree about the idea that the student policy is unpopular ,so some blame for the extremism of the protests must lay with the governemnt,reember we were out of touch with the public on Europe and even gay rights in the early days of the last gov't, witht eh press pushing htat we had gone to far,yet we stuck to our guns, it also means that if a governemnt suffers for mid term unpopulartity that the myth that people protesting agaisnt them with violence means that the government is out of touch ,remember every go'vt between 1955 and 1997 lost by elections and 7 of those govenments were re-eelcted,

Also just because it was cold doesn#t mena the police couldn't have not ketteld the protesters to prevent violence, the protesters should have worn thicker clothes, You couldn't say 'ah the riots of the 80's it rained that night,so the police in surrounding areas.shouldn't have tried to protect the firemen/ambulance men the rioters were trying to kill.

7:46 am, December 12, 2010


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