The Last Post…

…under a Labour government. Probably.

I’ve not blogged here during the campaign – this isn’t really that sort of site. Not really even a regularly-maintained blog – just somewhere for me to think aloud about politics when I feel the need.

The polls close in just over twenty minutes as I type this, and frankly I’m not expecting a particularly good result tonight. For the record, my prediction is that the Tories will get between 310 and 330 seats: minority government and/or a small overall majority. And I strongly suspect this is therefore the last day we will ever have of a solely Labour government: the future is electoral reform (even though the Tories will put that back a few years) and coalition governments.

I’m not sure I regret that. Most of the bad stuff done by Labour over the past twelve years (Iraq, civil liberties, that sort of thing) has resulted from the arrogance and complacency that an absolute parliamentary majority, particularly a landslide one, inevitably engenders. Perhaps this government’s “original sin” was turning away from the idea of electoral reform and working with the Lib Dems in 1997: after all, the system had shown it could deliver Labour government, so why change the system? Now, as we face the prospect of Tory absolutism on 36-38% of the vote, Tony Blair’s decision to cut Paddy Ashdown loose takes its revenge upon us.

But enough of such gloom. As far as I’m concerned, the credit side of the ledger for the last twelve years outweighs the debits. Read John Battle on what happened in his Leeds West constituency during that time. Check out Progress’s “100 achievements” list: minimum wage, shorter waiting lists, more teachers, Human Rights Act, Sure Start, civil partnerships, Freedom of Information, increased employment rights, the hunting ban. This is a better country than it was in 1997, and not all of that will disappear under the Tories (though far too much will).

So, thank you, Labour. We had our ups and downs over the past decade-and-a-half, and I may even have wandered away from you into some dark places, but we got through it. Perhaps you’ll pull one last surprise out of the bag over the next few hours. Perhaps. But whatever happens, British politics continues to need the values which Labour at its best represents, as summarised in the “new” clause 4:

The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

La lucha continua, and all that…


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