Saturday, 26 September 2009

Can Labour Win The Next Election?

There are lot of gloom mongers out there, mainly Labour Party activists, who think it is a foregone conclusion that Labour will lose the next election.

Certainly, I would say that Gordon Brown has more chance of buying the winning lottery ticket in tonight’s draw than of retaining the PM’s seat at the next election. But can he turn around this sinking ship and set it fair to win at this late stage? I will offer some of my pearls of wisdom and advice as a member of the electorate to suggest a few salient ideas.

The first point I would make is that hanging on until the last possible moment in June of next year is just dumb. Firstly, it smacks of a very desperate man who is hoping for some miracle to happen or for the cavalry to arrive to bail him out. It could be a sudden, rapid rise in our economic fortunes with Britain emerging from recession and then putting on a spurt of unprecedented growth. However, the indicators show that by the time of the next election unemployment may have risen to 3m and house prices may not have recovered sufficiently to give us the 'feelgood' factor of new prosperity. It’s a forlorn hope, and Brown may be better off shocking his opponents by calling an election quickly and at an unfashionable hustings time. To be honest, he doesn’t have a lot to lose and it may just wipe that smug smile off David Cameron’s chops.

Perhaps the best hope he has is to try to convince us all that now is not the time to change. We must follow through his tactics to beat the recession and get us out of the dire financial mess those nasty bankers (not him) and sub-prime got us into. This would again argue going to the polls earlier rather than later as the best tack. If he can contrive to dupe us that his super-hero antics of last year actually laid some kind of foundation to recovery and that it is so fragile that even the merest tinkering could destroy its course then he might stand a chance of making the Tories seem idiotic in their plans for the economy. I dare say by reminding us all what fabulous prosperity we all had under his Chancellorship for 10 years as we leveraged our assets rather than earned more will help to dupe us that he is once again right or maybe right this time around.

He could, of course, ‘out Tory the Tories’. It may sound daft but Ed Balls’ tactics of selflessly volunteering education to take a £2bn budget cut and to hell with the next generation of kids, may stymie the Tory bullies who think there are only secret cuts to be made after the election. It would bring it all out in the open and maybe we could see parties duelling as to who can cut furthest and deepest to rescue us. It was an enormous gamble by Balls, one designed no doubt, along with his new hairstyle, to show the electorate he is the new face of Labour while it flew in the face of Peter Mandelson who is carefully organising the tactics and language to once again make us all vote Labour. Perhaps by showing that cuts CAN be made and tough decisions on priorities can be made by Labour, then they might just blunt the Tory sword on all this. Certainly, the rather odd stance that you can actually get the budget deficit and the borrowing mountain down without cutting budgets by Alistair Darling is looking more moronic by the second. As his debt calculations have been out by tens of billions so far, has someone not yet told the poor man that he is going slowly crackers?

On the subject of Mandelson, simple mathematics proves he is a liability. The public, I believe I can talk on behalf of a comfortable majority of it, thinks he is sleazy, untrustworthy and pretty dishonest. He panders to wealthy people, gets freebies and then helps oil the political machine to help those back-scratchers get what they want. Even if he says it is not true, the public think it happens and twice before he has been forced from Government even by his best mate under the shadow of dodgy dealings. Since his dramatic recall to the team and 3 year pay off deal with Brussels, a peerage and the second most powerful position in the country, arguably the most powerful, Labour has seen the Tory lead drift from 12 to 16 points in the polls. No sitting Government in modern history has come back from such a deficit. Sidelining Mandelson would have an immediate and positive effect on the Party and reflect well on Brown – for whatever good Mandelson may doing in the background and the Labour machine, even activists in his own Party hate him. It could be an internal confidence boost that will chirp up and motivate the front end Party workers so vital at election time.

Ditching the sound bites will help. Spin and deception has been the hallmark of this whole New Labour franchise. They are far too clever for their own good and nobody takes things at face value anymore. We got a prime example last night at the UN. After Colonel Gadaffi’s 90 minute, frankly, bizarre speech in which he tore up the UN charter, Brown got to the stand and immediately tried to score a heavy point by saying he was not tearing up the same charter. How dumb was that to try to score points off the man and country he has worked so hard to rehabilitate in the mainstream political and world debate? You either accept that Gadaffi is a Dictator, as mad as a March hare downright dangerous or you rightly place him as a dodgy character whose regime aided and abetted terrorism. Neither option is particularly palatable yet in the wake of the release of the Lockerbie Bomber from BRITISH jurisdiction which has outraged most common people on both sides of the Atlantic; it was a cheap shot to try to endear himself back into the hearts of the people who now so deeply distrust him and his double dealings. The sooner he learns to live with the truth the better it will be for him, his party and the electorate. Trust has fallen to an all time low in the Labour movement, so much so that even the Unions think they are idiots.

Of course, there would be many that would take this a step further. Some would argue that Brown himself should step aside and let the aspiring newbies take over, like Johnson, Milliband or Balls. That has to be a mistake – Milliband looks like an extra from Harry Potter, Balls is another sound bite merchant while Johnson simply comes across as another puerile school snitch that just wants the top job but has no idea why. The fact is, Brown was meant to have this job and Labour have got themselves into an almighty mess – they need to rally around him as at least he has enough intelligence to be something of a leader whereas all the others are just opportunist wannabes.

Accepting the truth is something that simply eludes most politicians. They are taught from an early age that admitting you are wrong shows weakness. The problem is that in the face of overwhelming evidence that Labour has taken us into disastrous territory by repeatedly claiming nothing can happen to our robust economy only for us all to find out that it was about as robust as a damp tissue in a pond means that Labour simply look as if they are out of touch with reality as they continue to try to tell us we are actually better off than we are. The continuously shocked looking Alistair Darling, who always looks like a startled deer, just seems to get his sums wrong monthly and our burgeoning debt mountain gets higher each time as borrowing estimates have to be revised. It doesn’t do our confidence any good but when the magical new money from Quantitative Easing stops buying our own National Debt and the bonds go back on the open market, he could be in for a real shock that may whiten his eyebrows in line with the rest of his hair. There is a real risk that no sane investor will buy them. As an electorate, we are easily led but we are not always stupid. There comes a time that if we encounter a pile of dog poo, despite Government sound bites telling us it’s really a pile of gold, we actually recognise it as smelly and bad. It is time to concede that we are actually in a mess, the Government helped cause it and now here is the path to the future. Instead we got a fix that has saved the necks of a small number of very rich people for them to go and be even more fabulously wealthy while the country pays with extra taxes until 2032 and in lost jobs – and underwrites their antics for the future. In that context, banks could not have got a better result. Only last night, Brown claimed that 7m jobs globally have been saved – we are not stupid, we can read the numbers, British unemployment is up. Further, he Janet & John’d us by saying by saving the banks he stopped ATMs drying up. Not once did he consider an alternative way of doing this as other countries have – in the US they accepted the largest corporate failure in history and 94 banks have collapsed, yet he ATMs never skipped a beat. It is the assumption that we are gullible and stupid that will trigger his downfall.

A really populist, and therefore it could get a nasty backlash as not his idea and that's important to Gordon, is to start savagely cutting the layers of Government - very quickly. The Dept of Business Secretary alone runs 9 junior ministers and is a sub-Government in itself with Mandelson wandering around as effective PM anyway. No one would lose any sleep if that department and few others lost a several faces fast. Risky, but equally enjoyable, would be to see the Welsh Assembly turfed out of their lavish buildings and stripped of office so that not so many of them can claim expenses. Another good move would be to enforce shorter holidays, less allowances and a salary decrease on all MPs. Of course, it would be blasting his own foot but, boy, would all that go down well with the voters.

He's already on the case with bank bonuses but I still don't think he really gets it. This Government has gone out of its way to pander to super rich people in a manner you would expect Tories to do - and it looks so sleazy and sickening as to be revolting. It would really score a few points if retrospective non-domicile legislation came in to grab a portion of the £billions in taxes we have lost to people like Philip Green and other revered 'entrepreneurs' and bastions of Labour's inner court of lovelies. On top of that, it would be really wise to look at what Hedge Funds do in terms of helping the market so that people just cannot earn £billions in a year and walk away from us scot free of taxes. Then there is the general bankers themselves - why fiddle with bonuses when it is what they actually do that is the problem? Outlaw risky products as being what they are, make believe money spinners, and force banks to focus on trading things with intrinsic value - curb these daft bonus schemes as most 5 year olds could do their jobs. That would win a few votes.

Strike back at the ugly mess that MP Expenses have made. Don't just stand around pretending MPs have made forgetful mistakes and call it what it is - fraud. Sack the swines who did it, particularly the worst offenders like Blears and force the Tories to do the same like McBride. The sight of MPs claiming for Chunky Kitkats, duck houses, manure and the likes is just downright abhorrent to an electorate who are struggling to meet their bills with greater fear over the jobs. A touch of reality to all the offenders would be a popular move.

This one is not rocket science. Pictures of dead or mutilated British soldiers coming home each week is not good PR if you honestly think you have the Afghanistan situation in hand. It really is insulting to listen to unqualified ministers like Ainsworth and that idiot Foulkes rabbiting on about what we have done for the soldiers. It's clear we are fighting a war without the kind of support and equipment they need to get the job done without suffering unnecessary casualties. First, stop parading the thought of Mandelson strolling down an aisle in a supermarket smiling and putting weapons in his trolley when that clearly is not what he is doing. Second, get some decent body armour, trucks that withstand more than the force of a peashooter and some helicopters in - fast. Third, up the compensation for deaths and injuries for troops beyond the disgusting levels of today and stop taking victims to court in 'Test cases' to curb payouts when you really should not be quibbling over such trivia.

The public would rather pay more tax for wounded or dead soldier's compensation than for Fred Goodwin's bloody pension or to save some champagne guzzling Porsche driver in the City who is risking our livelihood not theirs - so go figure what wins votes.

Then there are the other, more desperate, possibilities. The Afghanistan war has cost us billions and over 216 brave soldiers have died and countless others have been injured and maimed. History shows that not since Alexander the Great has Afghanistan been successfully occupied and even modern armies have not done so. It’s a losing battle and it doesn’t help that we have soldiers not equipped properly for the job, territorials who no longer use live ammo to train, not enough armour in vehicles to stop IEDs and not enough aircraft to properly mobilise the forces or rescue hurt ones. Afghanistan is a mistake and a lost cause – it lacked a plan from the start and there still is not one. What Brown needs is a short sharp war, preferably picked with a nation of insufficient capability to fight back, that our troops can win one handed and not have too far to travel and we have no helicopters left. A startling victory somewhere will help, like the Malvinas, err, Falklands.

If all else fails, then there are two more options he can try. One is to get his wife on ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ (oops gone) or ‘I’m Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ and then she can do jungle challenges half naked and get off with a dismally failed prima donna pop star, then come home and work tirelessly for charity while having a TV program made about her every move. Obviously, she would need breast implants, quick.

Or, Brown needs to hang around a lake or canal in a pair of trunks, wait to see a toddler in trouble and then hurl himself into the water, pull the gasping child out, and give it the kiss of life while selflessly losing a limb in the act.

Like I said, I would start buying lottery tickets if I were Gordon.

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