May 13, 2015
Last week’s electoral win by the Conservative party has marked the Labour party’s fall from political grace in Britain. The victory was obtained through political manipulation (as opposed to political leadership) and electoral wizardry first tested in the land down under. Alas, Britain does not have Australia’s natural wealth, nor China as a huge, close-by market.
Labour lost its way a long time ago, in the mythical times of Tony Blair & co. What happened on the 7th of May was but a sad epilogue to the decay of a party grown unsure of its values, which had been the first to replace true leadership with political manipulation of the electorate in order to win. Thus, progressive political intellectuals were marginalised in favour of spin doctors, who bent the truth at will and manipulated voters with a reputation of being all-too-gullible. For the last five years, the Labour party has even fallen prey to the re-enactment of a Cain vs. Abel biblical fight for the top position, a development that had nothing to do with the real expectations of the party’s traditional electorate.
The future of the Labour party does not lie in a return to the centre of the political scene, as Peter Mandelson is only too quick to advocate. Again, abandoning its values in favour of winning elections was New Labour’s main claim to fame and also the chief reason for its subsequent demise. In order to prevent the Conservative party from taking over the working-class electorate with its new “ blue collar agenda”, however, Labour’s next leaders will have to combine Podemos-like grassroots activism with a progressive agenda similar, if not identical to “Rewriting the rules” , as proposed by Bill De Blasio, senator Elisabeth Warren and economist Joseph Stiglitz in the United States. Failing this, the Labour party will lose again at the polls, pushing its traditional electorate to vote for the English conservatives and nationalists.
To be sure, this Conservative victory matters only to England. The party’s austerity policies and its drive to renegotiate EU treaties to suit the agenda of English nationalists have alienated the Scots and the Irish. Consequently “Britishness” has, now more than ever in the past, become a notion which no longer reflects in any way, shape or manner a historical reality.Florian Pantazi