Race for Labour party leadership hots up

Posted on: 31 August 2010 by Mark O'haire

In just a couple of weeks the Labour Party will be voting in their new Leader and shortly afterwards he or she will be installed at the Party Conference with all the pomp and pageantry that the event deserves!

They are now moving to the final straight of the race and the big guns are being brought out to help and hinder the protagonists.

Today Lord Mandelson (he who is feared and reviled) came out in favour of David Milliband drubbing Ed his brother by saying that any candidate who puts New Labour to the back burner will have no chance of re-election in future.

I wonder what fairy books he’s been reading. For my money, the policies and culture of New Labour can be relegated to the dustbin. They are totally discredited - as are Blair and Brown the ‘visionaries’ who created New Labour along with their good friend Peter Mandelson (well on and off in Brown’s case!).

Now Mandy has every reason to keep the fairy story going – without it there really isn’t much for him to do other than potter around the House of Lords. He’s not been as fortunate as Tony Blair in setting up the ‘alternative career’ after being in power. Or like Gordon Brown who seems to have become a recluse in Scotland – ‘ nay lad there’s no need to worry, I can get by on a bowl of gruel!’

New Labour is as dead as the dodo and will never be resuscitated – Labour needs to go back to the drawing board and start again if they have any chance at all of being re-elected! The unions have got to let go of their financial hold over the party and it has to reinvent itself for the 2020 election because that’s how long it will be before they have any chance of winning. By then, all the old faces will have either retired or died and we’ll get some new thinking to the problems that will face the next generation of voters.

For old codgers like me it won’t matter much but the future brings new challenges for the UK. The biggest one will be surviving in the new world economic order when the power will be in the East. Coping with an aging population will no longer be something politicians will be able to ‘park’ for another day. Education and employment for young people will be at crisis level by 2020 and energy will be running out!

Now it’s not only going to be Labour that will have to do the reinvention. The Lib Dems, possibly still led by our very own - Nick Clegg the coalition Deputy PM who will have plenty of work to do. Twenty four hours is a long time in politics so I think the chances of him surviving for 10 years is remote.  As the coalition government moves forward implementing the spending cuts the Lib Dems party centre  is becoming disenfranchised from its membership. I expect our Nick to be facing some pretty hostile delegates at this year’s party conference.

Out of all this David Cameron seems to be the only party leader on a winning streak. Even his wife delivered him a new daughter to order in the media doldrums of the summer recess. If he keeps his head and holds true to his plans and we do finally get an accelerating economic recovery he can look forward to 10 years with his feet under the table at 10 Downing Street. This weekend Douglas Alexander told us that we can expect no tax cuts for five years. Unpleasant medicine to take but necessary for a strong recovery.

If the ‘Tory Master Plan’ works (well it’s certainly not the Lib Dems, is it!) by 2015 we will be prospering again and Labour will still be a discredited political force. Lib Dems will no longer be in a coalition and Cameron will have the time, the money and the vision to re-engineer the economy and our society. He’s going to be a hard act to beat or follow.

Still, remember the old saying ‘Twenty four hours is a long time in politics!’

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