Thursday, May 12, 2005

Electile disfunction

Always go for the obvious pun, that's my motto.

OK, election aftermath.

I've began reading
The downfall of the Liberal Party : 1914 - 1935 / Trevor Wilson
- the central thesis of which is that the imminent cause of the collapse of Liberalism was the Asquith government's wartime problems over conscription, the party's general opposition to militarism and war itself. That seemed suitable to me to raise some qustions about the imminent fate of the Labour party.

Some points - Wilson's book doesn't really cover the real sociological divisions in Liberalism - save to note the effect the war had on non-conformism as a social/political force. In passing he mentions how the Liberal grip on the Labour movement was weakened during the war, and the extra role given to the Labour party by being included in Lloyd George's overwhelmingly Conservative coalition cabinet (Lloyd George was the only liberal, and he was basically an apostate).

The Labour party was, of course, teh Liberal Party's golem, conjoured into existence as part of dubious anti-tory pacts to help prop up their own vote (back thern, many seats were multi (i.e. two) membered, so the Liberals offered to run on a joint ticket...doh!).

There desn't seem to be any equivilent force nowadays - Respect are not a left opposition, nor have they colonised any part of the Labour coalition's territory. The Liberal Democratshave been able to soak off quite a few votes, but I don't think they'll ever penetrate too deep, they have to watch their Yellow Tory flank in teh South West.

I believe I've mentioned before that Foot/Benn et al. reckoned they could win in 1983 if the SDP/Liberals had split the vote three ways, and it looks like in 2005 that trick has come off, Labour in government with a risible 36% of the turnout, 9.7 million votes in a country of 60 million. I don't think they'll dare pull that off again, proportional repreentation is coming. Let's just hope it won't be the aweful recommendations of the Jenkin's report.


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