Denmark shows a clear alternative can win at the polls….
A social democratic led coalition has swept a Liberal-Conservative government out of office. No, your not dreaming, it really has happened…only sadly not in Britain (yet) but in Denmark. Helle Thorning-Schmidt and her ‘Red Bloc’ are poised to end 10 years of center-right rule in a result that should gladden the heart of every left-winger across the continent. Victory for the center/left is especially sweet because it ends the involvement of the anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party in government. Far from enhancing the position of the far-right, it looks like Anders Behring Breivik has damaged (hopefully fatally) it’s political credibility in Norway’s near-neighbours as well as Norway itself.
Although Denmark is in nowhere near the economic pain that other European countries are, it does have a mounting deficit problem – it is forecast to climb to 4.6% of GDP next year. Thorning-Schmidt argued for more investment in education, welfare and infrastructure as opposed to the incumbent coalition which proposed austerity and cuts. So, Denmark is now likely to become a beacon for those who favour a socially just method of reducing the deficit.
Redistribution however will have to go hand-in-hand with restructuring of the economy to be effective in the long run. If it isn’t then it’s more a sticking plaster than a real, lasting solution to the world’s economic woes. This is the fallacy of the position of our own government which is neither effective in the short, nor the long-term. However, the Danish result can’t help but increase frustration with the position of the Labour Party in this country which is fighting shy of establishing itself as a force for real and lasting change. The leadership, which promised such a vision in it’s election campaign, has been found cruelly wanting now it is in office.
This lack of a compelling narrative to offer as a alternative to the government is the root cause of the weakness of our polling position (be under no illusions, it is weak). At our upcoming conference, Ed Miliband is going to have to send a clear signal that he knows how to change this, after all, he ran for the leadership using the justification that he was uniquely placed to lead the Party on from New Labour and fashion the alternative to the government that the country needs. If he can’t do this then what is the point of his leadership, what is the point of the heartache he endured in running?