Monday, 7 May 2012

Hollande and Ed

Francios Hollande has been elected in France. There are two main lessons that those of us on the Left of politics in the UK can learn from this:
  • Hollande could be described as boring, he certainly isn't charismatic and does not really exude Gallic flair. The lesson here is simple: If your message resonates with the electorate then a candidate, does not have to be celebrity-like to be statesman-like.

  • The French election result also proves that A Socialist party can be elected without having to embrace wholesale privatisation in order to become credible with the electorate.
Ed Miliband is not celebrity-like but the things he is says do resonate with people Shortly after his selection Ed Miliband talked about the 'British promise' the promise that each generation should be better off than the last, is something that Hollande also said in his acceptance speech. As a parent of two daughters this message strikes a chord. I get a sense of how may parents and grandparents must have felt when the mines and steelworks closed under Thatcher ... How will our kids get a job when they leave school? How are they going to cope? ... Will they have to leave the area?

It is the job of the government to run the country so that opportunity is provided and investment is secure. The Coalition have made deficit reduction the only priority, with the staunch, idelogical view that privatisation as the only solution. Government is like a juggling act the Tories have kept their eye on the austerity ball and dropped all the rest.

One of the most interesting results of these local elections was in Chipping Norton, Rebbeca Brooks, Jeremy Clarkson and David Cameron now have Labour councillors, not only is this amusing but it proves that people who can afford to live in an expensive area will not tolerate incompetent, unfair and out of touch government any more than anyone else.

Ed is similar to Hollande in that he is better at policy than he is at celebrity. If you want to vote for a celebrity then there are many TV shows where you can vote by text for a quid. If you want a mainstream Party to provide a clear alternative to bland, centre right politics, then the French result shows that is a possibility too.

1 comment:

David Lindsay said...

Labour is now winning council by-elections with 60 per cent of the vote in Southern villages where it had not previously stood candidates for 30 years or more, if ever.

Like the Marxists of old, today’s Conservatives are driven by a determination to conform reality to theory. Crippling provincial economies by slashing the spending power of public employees far from London. Redefining legal marriage in order to include same-sex couples, which has never been Labour Party policy, and on which Labour MPs are probably going to have a free vote. Deregulating Sunday trading. Devastating rural communities by flogging off our Post Office and our roads to private companies and even to foreign states. Breaking the Royal Mail’s direct link between the monarchy and every address in this Kingdom. Abolishing Gift Aid while drastically reducing the activities entitled to charitable status. Bankrupting the Church of England by imposing VAT on listed building repairs. How many parishioners of the Vicar of Dibley want any of that?

We are in the situation that obtained between September 1992 and May 1997, when everyone knew that there was going to be a Labour Government just as soon as there was a General Election. But we also need a body of MPs, enough to hold the balance of power or at least to be useful in the way that the Ulster Unionists sometimes were, for a price, to John Major, in order to keep the Miliband Government faithful to the mainstream, moderate British politics of those who will have put it in. Economically social democratic, sanely conservative socially and culturally, and non-jingoistically patriotic in all directions: the EU, the US, Israel, the Gulf monarchs, whoever, including separatists in any part of the United Kingdom, and including those who may have imported communalism at local level.

Obvious, though by no means exclusive, places to start are the West Country and the North of Scotland, where the age-old rural Radicalism has been disenfranchised by the Coalition. Labour should identify strong local candidates and stand aside in support of their Independent candidacies, complete with union funding if necessary, thereby creating a healthy mutual obligation. This sort of thing has been done successfully before. For example, Labour’s lead list MSP in the Highlands and Islands has always been Peter Peacock, who had previously made it all the way up to Convener of Highland Council in 17 years as an Independent. I am told that at one time, and for some years, even the mighty Secretary of the Labour Group on Durham County Council was officially an Independent from agricultural Weardale.