Friday 8 May 2015

The quiet death of the Labour Party?

Amidst the utterly crushing, dispiriting disappointment of this election result, I think we have to remember that this was a colossal missed opportunity. The soul searching and self-flagellation is already underway, and rightly so. The Tories are presenting this as a glorious victory but in truth they've barely scraped a majority. Relative to expectations that's huge -- far beyond the wildest hopes/nightmares of supporters/opponents, respectively. But the discontent with the way this country has been run is still there, still simmering -- perhaps even more so now.

Our progressive political parties south of Scotland, with a handful of exceptions (including in my own home constituency of Bristol West), have manifestly failed to tap that. They've managed to take a simmering discontent and thrown a damp blanket over it.

What the Tories will now knock down may never be rebuilt. That is a weight that will rest on us for generations to come.

It feels like a death in the family, this morning.

And it really makes me question whether the Labour Party has a future (not questioning the future of the Party, whether it has one). The pattern now will be precisely the same as five years ago. The in-fighting of leadership contests will paralyse any possibility of opposition for weeks if not months. Meanwhile, the Tories are already consolidating their narratives, burying the abovementioned fact that this is an extremely narrow victory, and presenting themselves as having a formidable mandate. They're aided in this by the larger part of the media, the offshore, oligarchic ownership of which is only going to get stronger. Add to this further gerrymandering and the effective loss of Scotland (whether through SNP dominance or outright independence)...

I know everyone always thinks that they're at a turning point of history but it's difficult to get around the sense that this was the last chance for the Labour Party in its present form.

It died not with a bang but with a whimper. What comes next?