...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Day 2681: Görd-erdämmerung (Twilight of the Frown)


Everyone's been asking what caused the Labour's MELTDOWN in the local elections?

The SHORT answer is: Mr Frown.

The LONGER answer is: ten years of Lord Blairimort… followed by Mr Frown.

Mr Frown's career has always been a touch OPERATIC: the lust for power, the hubris, the betrayal.

But when MORE THAN HALF of his own party want him to be GONE, when even party loyalists like Mr "Wendy" Alexander are making PANIC decisions on the assumption that Mr Frown will lose them the next election, you have to wonder if the FAT LADY is getting ready to SING!

Mr Frown himself has admitted to making mistakes… and, unlike Ms Yvette Codename (who got skewered on the PM programme), he had a carefully prepared list of "mistakes" to admit to: apart from doubling the 10p tax band, there was "allowing speculation about a general election to go on too long"; spending too much time "concentrating on the detail of policy"; and "not putting across the Labour's VISION".

You'll notice that these admissions either pass the buck (other people did the speculating) or are disguised virtues (oh I was working too hard to be spinning). These are like the sorts of "mistakes" that you put on your JOB APPLICATION when asked "what are your faults": oh, I work too hard, and I always let the boss take the credit and I don't complain enough.

(You should ALSO notice that Mr Frown had to come to the BBC to do his interview with Mr Andy Marmite. Times past and Mr Marmite would have to troop up to Downing Street to interview Lord Blairimort or Mr Frown at THEIR convenience; this weekend, it is Mr Frown who is the supplicant, creeping in to Mr Marmite's studio like any ORDINARY politico… like swivel-eyed Euro-loon "fantastic" Dr Fox for the Conservatories who was on just before, for example. What a HUMBLING experience that should have been for our MIGHTY Prime Monster.)

Of course, the FIRST plan had been to try to pin all of the blame on the 10p tax debacle, and try to say that people hadn't "understood" or that the compensation hadn't been made "clear" or that only VERY FEW people would REALLY be worse off.

That was never going to work because in the first place actual REAL people had received their actual REAL April payslips and could see the difference in black and white. But more than that, there was the question of "NARRATIVE": NuLabour has always slightly had the problem that in order to spin the "we're Middle-England safe" message they've had to have a side order of "Betrayal of our Labour roots". Nothing, but nothing emphasised that betrayal narrative better than taxing the poor for a middle-class tax cut.

Lord Blairimort tried this in his first term; back when Ms Harriet Harpic and all those lady MPs showing how different female-friendly the Labour's politics was by… cutting money to single mums. But then, Lord Blairimort wasn't stupid enough to pick on people who even the Daily Hate Mail agrees work hard and don't get much (the Mail was on side then, at least when it came to kicking feckless lone parents) and people gave him the benefit of the doubt.

The other problem with this strategy was one of LANGUAGE. The political code is "mistakes were made" but it means: "this ONE THING was the mistake that we will admit to".

But then, of course, Ms Codename walked into Clever Eddie Mair's ambush.

"What other mistakes?"

The spinmeisters took swift note of her self-immolation, hence Mr Frown's job application list (and he might want to be thinking about that job application) and a change of tack.

So the Labour's SECOND response was to say that they are going to be "LISTENING". You could be DEAFENED by all the Labour ministers going on telly and radio to say that they would be listening. The problem with THIS strategy is that it all too obviously means that they haven't the tiniest clue what to do next. Of COURSE listening is an IMPORTANT part of a politician's job – how can you represent your people if you don't know what they want? (Well, you might well ask, as the Labour seem to have managed THAT for a decade, but anyway…) But, quite obviously, to say "we will be listening" is to say that you HAVEN'T BEEN; that you've not been doing your job properly all this time.

It is interesting that Mr Millipede, HIGHLY in demand for interviews this weekend, is now the DEFAULT assumption for next leader of the Labour. He may not be exactly "A-List" but he's clearly the best that they've got left. And you can see how HARD he is struggling to shore up Mr Frown because absolutely the LAST thing that he wants is to be leader BEFORE the next General Election… because he doesn't want to be the one who has to RESIGN for LOSING it.

In quite a lot of ways, the Labour's problem is that they can't campaign on a platform of "we'd like a term off, please". It's all very well for an individual to step aside – Lord Blairimort, for example, quit to spend more time with his executive directorships – but the party AS A WHOLE can't say "we're tired of this; we need to regroup". Because if they DID they'd get no votes at all.

Caught in this trap, they have to trot out all of those "we're BURSTING with new ideas" clichés that just make them look even more tired and defeated.

Don't they remember when the Conservatories were "listening"… to Mr Major Minor's CONES HOTLINE!

The reason that Mr Frown has failed to put across his new VISION for Britain is because he hasn't GOT one. His vision is EXACTLY the same as Lord Blairimort's (with the ONE crucial exception that Mr Frown's hasn't got Lord Blairimort in it).

Finally, late on in the weekend, the Labour started trying to claim that these local elections were a "referendum on the Government" (which they CERTAINLY were NOT) and not like a proper election at all.

This really is reaching the last SCRAPINGS of the "we're a bad word and we know we are but ooooOOOOOoooo the Tories" barrel.

But in fairness they sort of have a tiny glimmer of a point, and it IS the only hope that they have left.

Because when Mr Balloon comes on the TV to say: "this isn't just a vote against the Government but a vote FOR the new ideas of the Conservatories" he knows that he's telling a flat-out lie. How can people vote for the Conservatories' new ideas if he's refusing to tell us what they ARE?!

Apart from a bonfire of the bendy-busses, I don't think anyone has the first idea what Bonkers Boris is going to do now he's in charge of London. Least of all HIM! They know what he's NOT going to do: he not going to do all of the things Mr Ken was going to do, and undo one or two of the ones he's already done. But that's just TYPICAL of the Conservatories at the moment. You want this stopped? We'll put a stop to it! You want something done? Er, we'll get back to you! Probably after the election, if we can get away with it!!

Stretched out for two years – and Mr Frown can and almost certainly will do that to him – Mr Balloon is going to have to think of some new shtick to flannel the journalists with. At least those who are more demanding than Mr Nick "reading Dave's press-releases" Robinson.

So the way for Mr Frown to win the next election is as EASY as it is DIFFICULT: he's just got to stop bad-wording things up all the time.

Yes, you can see the FATAL FLAW can't you!

Of course, things WILL just keep on coming along to put a SPANNER in his plans.

Next up, for example, the rushed Crewe and Nantwich by-election and an opportunity for Mr Frown to lose a safe Labour seat.

The Liberal Democrat candidate is Ms Elizabeth Shenton.

She's NOT a FAT LADY and I don't know what her SINGING VOICE is like, but, even so, we all know what it means when she comes on at the END!

Cue up the Ragnarok 'n' Roll, Mr Frown!

No comments: