8 May 2015

Thatcherism vs. Thatcherism Lite: Why It Makes No Difference Who Won


David Cameron and the Conservatives shocked everyone by storming out victorious with a majority government. All along, he was adamant that they would be in this position even with the polls being neck and neck throughout the campaign. Everyone laughed when he suggested such a triumph. Even Nick Clegg was dogmatic about the fact that the Tories wouldn’t secure a majority. So, we are facing five years of a Conservative government and an apparent ’£12 billion’ worth of cuts. But, would it have mattered if Labour came out victorious and secured a majority?

Miliband was elected by the unions as leader of the labour party because he wanted to move away from New Labour. Whereas his brother was firmly fixed on the idea of continuing with Blair’s philosophy. Ed Miliband lost this election incredibly. He had no choice but to step down as leader. Why did he lose? I think there are four key factors in play here: the working class vote, the not so distant past of Labour, nationalism and Ed Miliband himself. The working class vote was clearly split at this election between Labour and UKIP. This helped the Conservatives steal marginal seats where they may not have expect to do. Labour’s economic record under Brown was simply awful. Voters don’t forget easily and as Miliband and Balls were both part of Brown’s cabinet back in the naughties, the Tories used this to scare voters. The SNP won all but three seats in Scotland. If Labour were to have any chance in winning the election, they would have had to have kept Scotland red. Again, the Tories scared voters into suggesting that the SNP would back-up a Labour government and suggested that if you don’t vote Tory, this will happen. Lastly, Ed Miliband isn't a leader. Yeah, he’s a nice guy but he can’t run a country. Even his own party felt this when he was first elected.

Miliband wanted to rebuild Labour and take them into a new direction. (Back to the left in fact) However, the progressiveness of his policies was weak. Nicola Sturgeon named Labour, Tory lite as they weren't progressive at all. Miliband may have wanted to be seen as left wing but he was far from it. I would argue that on a political spectrum, Labour and the Conservatives would be on top of each other. Labelling Labour as left wing is simply unjust. They haven’t been leftwing since 1994 before Blair took over the leadership. Blair, who he called himself right wing was as Owen Jones put him, “one of Thatcher’s greatest achievements.” Blair was as right wing as a Labour politician could get and Miliband really isn't that far off. So, whether Cameron or Miliband was elected, you’d still have had right-wing, pro-capitalist, pro-business policies. It wouldn't have made any difference. And, to that suggest Labour would have wrecked the country through unrestricted borrowing isn't doing their homework correctly. The Conservatives borrowed more money in three years of their first premiership than Labour did in all 13 under Blair and Brown… (That’s including the money borrowed to bail out the banks…)

Why vote then? There was actually a real choice at this election, as much as Miliband liked to say. The choice was stick to what we know with Labour or the Tories and watch them control our Orwellian lives or, vote for something new. Vote for a change. That other choice was what Scotland did fantastically. UKIP, the Greens, Plaid or even the Respect party, was the other choice. Old guard or fresh blood. The establishment or the new kids on the block. We chose the liars, cheats and Murdoch influenced establishment to continue ruling our country. But, at least, the feeble and cautious nature of the old guard means that it won’t affect any of us. Britain needs radical change. Not frail policy making about zero hours contracts, bedroom tax or hospital parking fees. The last reform in the Commons was in 1918 with the introduction of votes for women. Don’t you think it’s time for real reform? 

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