by Peter Franklin
Monday, 20
April 2020
Response
17:09

If Britain is becoming a ‘one-party state’, blame Labour

From Gordon Brown (L) through to Jeremy Corbyn (R), Labour lost four elections in a row. Credit: Getty

The average Briton is now more likely than not to be a Tory voter. Most polls have the Conservative Party at 50 per cent plus. It’s all beginning to look a bit… Hungarian.

The blue ascendancy isn’t just a function of the corona-crisis. The Tories have won the last four elections — each time with an increased share of the vote.

Now, with a majority of 80, a death-defying Prime minister, effectively unlimited spending powers and carte blanche to do “whatever it takes”, this is one of the most dominant governments in British history.

Writing in The Guardian, Andy Beckett is worried:

…the UK may be moving closer to becoming a one-party state. Not a totalitarian one, but a democratic one, like postwar Italy or Japan, where one party is in power for decades, on its own or in coalitions, absorbing ideas and policies from rival parties, shamelessly moving rightwards or leftwards according to circumstances, and winning the pragmatic support of ever more interest groups.
- Andy Beckett, The Guardian

Even if this doesn’t lead to Orbanesque over-reach, there’s something horribly incestuous about such a state of affairs — or, as Andy Beckett puts it: ‘The life of a single party – its ideological trajectory, factional struggles and leadership contests – becomes almost the whole of politics’.

Yet as much as I agree with this diagnosis, Beckett’s argument is infuriating. That’s not because it’s written from a Left-wing point of view. Nor is it that he bashes the Government throughout. After all, it’s his opinion and his job to express it. But if the Tories really are that awful, then why have the opposition made so little headway? Beckett provides no clue. There’s not a hint anywhere in his article that the Left — and the Labour Party in particular — may be in some way responsible for the current state of British politics.

It wasn’t the Tories who chose the wrong Miliband brother, or who elected Jeremy Corbyn (twice), or who forbade Labour from cooperating with other opposition parties, or who ordered the EHRC anti-Semitism inquiry, or who promised to call a second referendum on (and campaign against) their own Brexit deal.

As for Beckett’s contrast between “amateurish Tory figures” and “New Labour’s bland but often competent and hard-working ministers”, would these be the ministers who tried to push Britain into the single currency, or who plunged us into the second Gulf War, or who lost their own supporters’ trust on immigration, or whose ‘tripartite system’ of financial regulation so completely failed to prevent the banking crisis, or who sacrificed vital public sector reforms to a decade-long feud between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Labour, whether under Brown, Miliband or Corbyn, has lost four elections in a row. Surely at some point they have to stop blaming the winners.

Comment


  • April 25, 2020
    In one respect the Conservative governments from Cameron forward have certainly been inferior to previous Conservative governments. The Major government, which introduced inflation targeting to the Bank of England, recognized that the BoE’s target inflation indicator should differ from the RPI... Read more

  • April 25, 2020
    Could not agree more Read more

  • April 25, 2020
    They don't need to run to the state for money, because the self-regulating BBC are funded by a tax which is 100% hypothecated, while Channel 4 is also independent of any customer choice. Read more

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