John Rentoul: why a Miliband government would be likely to be a disaster

John Rentoul has an interesting article in the Independent - not the most Tory of newspapers - on why if Ed Miliband wins the next election "we have to take seriously the likelihood that his government will be a disaster."


I don't agree with everything in his article, which you can read in full here, but he makes some very powerful points. Here are a few extracts from the article:

"Winning by default creates problems, as Labour discovered in 1974. Someone who was active in the party at the time advised me to remember “what happens when a Labour Party consisting of former ministers who have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing come to power after a Tory interlude government, which after a strong, interesting start just froze up”.

"It wasn’t that the voters thought Edward Heath was wrong to challenge the power of the trade unions; it was just that they thought he had made a mess of it, and that the other lot couldn’t be worse.

"That could be the situation in 2015.

"So we have to take Prime Minister Miliband seriously. And we have to take seriously the likelihood that his government will be a disaster. It is not just the parallel with 1974, or even the much-cited example of what has happened in France since last year. Fran├žois Hollande, whose election was hailed by Miliband as evidence that, in these straitened times, the left is finally answering the public mood, has become more unpopular even faster than the other Fran├žois, Mitterrand, did when he tried “socialism in one country” in 1981.

"There is another historical parallel that is even more relevant. And that is what happened here in 2007. The Brownites thought that all they had to do was to change the face at the top and make the Labour Party feel good about itself again. This rediscovery of authenticity would inspire a grateful nation, a nation that had been confused for 10 years by Labour people forced to say things in which they didn’t believe.

"As Janan Ganesh, the Financial Times columnist and biographer of George Osborne, pointed out yesterday: “Labour – its front bench and back rooms alike – is now led by people who spent a decade believing that Tony Blair was a problem and Gordon Brown was the answer.” This was a problem in 2007. When they took over, they had no sense of direction, except to tack a little to the left, which is what they had been doing for years to ensure Brown’s succession.

"But it will be even more of a problem in 2015 – because Miliband was in charge of the policy preparation when Brown took over, and in charge of writing the manifesto for 2010, which was so weak it had to be rewritten at the last moment. And he has done nothing to prepare for government this time either, except to say that Labour would have cut slightly less in the past but that it cannot say anything about the future.

"Perhaps the economy will pick up, in which case this won’t matter. But I feel that the worst outcome of the next election would be for Labour to win it so ill-prepared."

These are some extracts: you can read the whole article here.

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