Saturday, October 03, 2015

Thoughts on the Party Conferences

They are quite different tribes, Labour and the Tories at their  Conferences. Whilst there are some observers who understand this this is rare. There is little general comprehension of the Labour Tribe by most Tories and certainly vice versa. Tony Blair quite brilliantly nabbed lots of previous Tory voters to win three General Elections, but he didn't persuade any of the Conservative Conference attendees. Look back to Conservative commentators' reports on Labour Conferences during the Blair years and you'll find vitriol not far short of that being hurled at Corbyn. Tory commentariat admiration of Blair was of his political skills never of his policies and rarely of his performance. And yet, and yet! 

The coining of the phrase "LibLabCon" by UKIP will be this gruesome bunch's only useful legacy. In office there is a continuum from Major, through Blair and Brown, to Cameron which is pretty much seamless. For Labour Corbyn breaks this continuum as IDS and Howard once did for the Tories. They were unelectable and Corbyn is the same. After flirting with the Right as the Conservatives did in Opposition Labour is now flirting with the Left in Opposition. The parallel is precise. But the gravitational forces always pull to the centre be it the pragmatism of the Fabian Society on the Left or of "The Good Right" in Tory ranks. 

In my lifetime only Attlee and Thatcher were radicals and even their conviction politics was tempered by the reality of power. The tribes at their annual rallies will huff and puff, but they won't blow the house down. We Brits are too sensible for that !
Part of this consensus is the acceptance of the fact that Britain today is not a world power – at least not in the 19th Century meaning of the phrase. The nostalgia for the days when we were is quite sad really. There is nothing wrong with being a major player in the world’s largest economy (the EU). There is nothing wrong with being an important partner in military alliances (like NATO).  As early as 1945 it was quite clear that only by partnership with others could Britain play a useful role in world affairs. The Commonwealth is an irrelevance. The “Special relationship” just nostalgic baloney.  The “Anglosphere” a figment of imaginations. It does take us a while to wake up to the new realities sometimes but we get there in the end!


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