Saturday, 5 July 2014
Snakes in the grass...
What’s that I hear? The Labour Party is in disarray? Who would have thought it? Ten decades after its birth for all the honourable reasons this is now a party without a mission, except possibly a visceral desire to drag us back to their glory days of post-war euphoria and an end to… and end to what, exactly? For all the former might of the trades unions, the poor are still poor, at least partly as a result of thirteen years of Labour government from whose shadow we seem to be finally emerging. And by many measures the poor of today are far less satisfied with their lot than before they expected so very much. Such a cruel trick, to dangle aspirational baubles in front of people’s eyes only to snatch them back just as they come within reach.
So no wonder this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions seemed to be devoted entirely to the NHS. The only thing left in the boy Miliband’s armoury and it went down like a five-bob whore; a deeply uncommitted and unsatisfying performance, all over so quickly and leaving only the aftertaste of shame. The NHS is the fourth largest employer on the planet and so vast is it that its internal momentum is as incapable of reacting to one-term government quick-fixes as a super tanker is of performing an emergency stop.
And of course, despite the fanciful, bleeding heart imaginings, the NHS is far from broke. It consumes a vastly disproportionate amount of our national resources because of its cumbersome bulk. But for every confected sob-story of waiting lists and supposedly preventable deaths, for every genuine grievance brought to the dazzling glare of publicity, there are a thousand perfectly satisfied customers. And unlike many countries throughout the world nobody dies just because they can’t afford healthcare.
Labour did nothing to tame the monster, so what makes Ed think their sentimental worship of the sacred National Health cow will convince voters otherwise? As he spoke in the Commons his cabinet cringed behind him. Not a thing to say on the economy, the cost of living crisis forgotten, and employment figures making a laughing stock of their pretend-job guarantee, Ed was way out on his own, banging on about the NHS. Again. Meanwhile his party briefed against him in snippets of leaked reportage.
And then at the end of the week they let him talk about business – something he knows nothing about – to businessmen, who know quite a lot about it. Their verdict? Ed knows nothing about it. Forgetting, perhaps, that business people are also ordinary men and women with views on international trade and partnerships and exports and balances of payments and politically rigged marketplaces, he once again misjudged his audience and their interests. It is not just Unite who favour a referendum on the EU.
But wait, how did this happen at all? Wasn’t this supposed to be Labour’s NHS – the only thing we have left – week? Dan Hodges certainly thought so and rolled up a copy of his Telegraph blog with which to beat the errant Miliband from behind his own lines. The real horror though, is that as disorganised as they are, as poor a one-nation leader-figure as Ed is, there is still a chance that Labour have enough people too stupid to realise that if they vote Labour they’ll get a man they’ve already decided isn’t up to the job they would vote him into… and then what? A Miliband government would be torn to shreds in weeks and maybe they secretly admit to this.
Daddy was a Marxist so, yah,
I know all about business...
Could it be that Ed’s team is playing a longer game? A leadership challenge now gives too little time to regroup behind a new figurehead; besides which, who is there left? But putting Miliband in number 10 is too dreadful to contemplate unless you’re a big fan of collective bargaining and one out, all out. Also, the longer any government is in power, the less popular they become. So maybe the strategy of Labour’s real leaders is to sit this one out, let Ed lose and thus give themselves another six years from now to think up a policy. Let’s face it; it’s taken them four years to come up with absolutely fuck-all.