If political parties were people, Labour would be the teenager with a chance of edging a tight race on sports day, but who spends the days beforehand lying on the floor in her room, being emo about the fact that her running shorts aren’t that great, rather than training for the big day.
I’m doing a massive disservice to teenagers here. But really, instead of bringing the fight to the Tories and UKIP, Labour is engaging in some self-indulgent introspection and fretting over a situation they can’t reasonably change (Ed and his personality and popularity deficit) before the election in May next year.
Sure, it won’t be easy, as David Lammy points out, (ok, he doesn’t think a Labour majority is possible, and he may be right) – but at the same time, Cameron didn’t win last time either, even with the economic crisis and Gordon Brown being so unpopular. Labour could bring a fight – they need to. They need to scrap for every seat, but it’s as if they’ve already given up, despite the fact that the Tories are actually in trouble. Sure, they’ve got the polls closer than ever, but they about to lose a second MP seat to UKIP, the economy is going slightly off the boil again, and people are still generally hard-up. And the cuts they propose will make it even harder. They haven’t even done the *one thing* that they said they would – the deficit has grown. In fact, two things. They didn’t meet their arbitrary and bizarre immigration target.
But Labour is chasing its tail. It’s as if the fact that they might not win outright means they won’t even try. And triangulating messages according to what UKIP is saying hasn’t yielded any results. Not with UKIP supporters, not with the hostile sections of the right-wing press, and not with Labour’s natural supporters, who are unconvinced at best and annoyed with the duplicity at worst. It isn’t who Labour are, and it’s obvious. Its attempts to ape UKIP are craven and cynical – and it looks that way. At least UKIP are consistent. I don’t like them, but they are what they say on the tin. So, given that Labour aren’t convincing anyone and certainly not building any new coalitions with this narrow appeal to the bigoted minority…why not fight? Why not be full-throated and bring.the.noise?
Whether Lammy is right about the election outcome remains to be seen, but he definitely has one thing right – Labour needs to figure out who it is first:
For Lammy, Labour has to be “relentless at communication, we mustn’t move around on policy areas like immigration and Europe” because Labour is “a pro-immigration party, we are a pro-European party”.
He added: “I don’t think that posturing and positioning each time there’s a new immigration poll is right for the Labour Party.”