Labour’s New Year Resolution
So, 2012 is nearly upon us and our glorious leader has spoken, no I don’t mean Kim-Jong Un but Ed Miliband. He struck a deliberately optimistic tone and although I have seen reservations expressed about this, I think its broadly speaking correct. We don’t want to be signing Shiny Happy People when most people are suffering but nor do we want to slip into accepting what Ed rightly described as the Coalition “counsel of despair”. Measured optimism is the way forward.
Nonetheless, Ed’s strong suits illustrate his glaring weaknesses. It was all fluff and fuzzy feeling. Talk of “good” capitalism, for example, makes me cringe, as if our problems were the result of metaphysical evil not Labour’s manifest stupidity in failing to regulate, early, harshly and often.
This leadership is based on emotion – the flight from Blairism – the god that failed and hurt us deeply. Many hate Ed because he isn’t Blair while for others this is his decisive saving grace. This shows that we have yet to emotionally process and move on from Blairism – its still central to the conscious actions of the Party, ie, electing Ed and many of the subconscious undercurrents that trouble our collective psyche. Now, as anybody who knows me personally will gladly tell you, I’m a emotional person but I’d like to think, apart from passion and conviction I keep that out of politics. Emotions are often bad political guides.
Ed fails to excite passion and conviction even in his own reflection many times. As Francis Urquhart said of Henry Collingridge “his overwhelming desire is to be liked” and, as Urquhart observed, this is “admirable in a cocker spaniel” but not a Prime Minister. People don’t want a cuddly teddy bear as their leader – they want somebody who inspires them with guile in their words and deeds. Sadly, after its emotional traumas all the Labour Party wants to do is grip its cuddly leader tight – better that than deal with the horrible real world.
Some of Ed’s words are fine and display evidence of an inner guile that never quite shines through. However, the message is being swamped by the personal flaws of the messenger. The half-heartedness is symptomatic of a retreat by the Party into its own comfort-bubble of warm fuzzy feeling and its journey along the path to electoral hell, paved, of course with good intentions.
So, our New Years resolution should be simple. It should be to say now is the time to move beyond emotion and start to confront the bitter cold realities of our political landscape. If we do that, then there is no reason why 2012 cannot be a very prosperous one for Labour indeed.