Monday, May 14, 2007

A Record to be Proud of....


Would a Labour leader be a success if, over three elections, he had seen his party's vote decline steadily from 13.5 million to 10.7 million to 9.6 million?

What about the fact that this is less than the 14 million won by John Major in 1992, or the 13.9 million won by Clement Attlee in 1951 (when the electorate was 7 million fewer)? Or the fact that his second election saw a popular vote that was less than that gained by the 'unelectable' Neil Kinnock in 1992?

That is indeed Tony Blair's success. He has won a huge parliamentary majority on two occasions with less than a third of the votes of the whole electorate; his most recent victory saw him win just over a fifth of the whole electorate's votes. And they say there's no case for electoral reform?

These ineluctable points and many others are put forward by Geoffrey Wheatcroft in a searing assessment of the Blair premiership, entitled 'Yo, Blair', after President Bush's infamous off the record greeting. This short book is a polemic of unremitting force, and Blair admirers will probably choke on the copious evidence of their hero's duplicity, while his detractors will cheer on Wheatcroft and suffer high blood pressure from bursting indignation at the same time. Though an old fashioned Tory, Wheatcroft is no unthinking admirer of the Conservatives either, as his previous book, 'The Strange Death of Conservative England', makes clear. It may be that there is a good defence of Blair to be made. It's just that I haven't seen it yet.

6 comments:

Chris said...

Not sure Blair alone can be blamed for the apathy among the electorate which means his election victories are based on such a small share. That's the fault of politicians from all sides.

GM said...

Tony Blair has presided, as PM, over a dramatic fall in voter turnout between 1997 and 2005. The sharpest fall has been in traditional Labour strongholds, with high levels of social deprivation and ethnic ghettoisation. In his rush to grab the Tories' political clothes Blair has abandoned his party's bedrock vtoe, and they have abandoned him, without yet finding another home.

Perhaps, too, an electorate that has become wearily familiar with the regular lying of its leader can no longer be bothered to give credibility to such a muddied political discourse. I would agree that politicians of all parties have hardly covered themselves in glory over the past decade, but that doesn't detract from where the lion's share of the blame lies. With the man who heads our political system.

Chairman Mo said...

I know this sounds stupid, but what's so bad about the Prime Minister misleading the public? He's in power and he can do what he likes provided he can get people to accept it. That is, the people who matter. We're not a perfect democracy and that's probably a good thing. The people don't know how to run a country. Not that they're stupid...

GM said...

Oh I don't know, just some old fashioned values about honesty I guess...

Chairman Mo said...

yes but some things its better the public stay out of. most people dont know how to fight wars and dont spend time weighing up the pros and cons of international maneuvring. they just jump on the namby pamby socialist bandwagon and moan about human rights as if such ridiculous things exist.

GM said...

'most people don't know how to fight wars'. Too true - currently they live at No. 10 Downing Street and in the White House, Pennsylvania Avenue, DC