Division, Division, Division
Neil Kinnock once said ‘In politics, division carries the death penalty’, he was talking about the certain electoral failure of a party that is engaged in a battle as much on the home front as it is on the General Election battleground. Over the past 12 months we have seen many public disagreements in the Conservative party over issues such as the European Union and gay marriage. Whilst these scuffles were played out over the 10 o’clock news the labour party seemingly meandered along all in polite agreement over the ‘big’ issues. However the divisions that have been highlighted in the Conservative party are small change compared to the rudderless sinking ship that is the Labour party.
When it comes to three of the most important areas of public policy, the economy, welfare and education, the Conservatives are relatively of one mind compared to the rift in the Labour party. The labour party finds itself split between two ideological camps; the anti-capitalist egalitarians and the capitalist embracing social democrats. This division is confounded by Labour turning a blind eye to the widening ideological gulf between Ed, his shadow cabinet, the unions, back benchers and party members. A lack of direction is also causing unrest in the electorate many see Miliband and his party of using worn out clichés to attack the Conservatives and have so far offered no real alternative. The reason for this lack of direction is Miliband’s reluctance to pick a side; this division has existed for many years but the party has been united since Kinnock banished Derek Hatton from the Labour party in 1985. Every Labour leader since thenhas picked a camp and gone with it which has been followed by the party, even if occasionally with reluctance. Miliband’s silence had left dead air in Labour party policy and its being filled with contradictory ideas from both sides of the rift because there is no party line to follow.
Despite squabbling over the specificities of an EU referendum the Conservative party is in agreement that one has to happen. Conservative wrangling over when an EU referendum should take place has overshadowed the complete and utter discord over Labours view on a referendum. Six labour MPs backed James Wharton EU referendum bill and the upper echelons of the labour party have refused to rule in our out an EU referendum. Then we come onto this decades election hot topic; the economy! Once again on a key policy area the Conservatives are pulling mostly in the same direction, if not 100% unified, but there are deep divisions over how Labour would run the economy if they win the 2015 General Election. The ‘Brownites’ want to follow traditional socialist values and increase borrowing and spending, where as many in the Labour Party have told the ‘Brownites’ to get real and follow the ‘Blairite’ ideology, which would mean matching spending cuts and continuing with the current governments public service reforms.
Whilst Conservative spats have been fairly frequent and well covered by the media the fundamental divisions in the Labour party have resurfaced and bubbled in the background. The leadership of Ed Miliband has inflamed the situation and the longer he stalls on showing Labours card the more restless his party become and its voters become. As the date of the next General Election draws closer the ‘Old Labour’ Vs ‘New Labour’ dispute will gain greater attention and Miliband’s leadership will come under increasing scrutiny. Miliband will have to pick a direction and all those associated with the Labour party will have to fall in line and follow him to the General Election. Despite a poll lead of 8 (YouGov poll 7th August puts Conservatives at 31 and Labour at 39) overturning almost a 100 seat deficit will not be an easy feat and unless Labour find a state of relative harmony the electorate may have a difficult time backing a Miliband led Labour to take the keys of Number 10.