Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The government thrashed the opposition on Thursday

What a strange title for a blog post you are thinking (yes, I am arrogant enough to assume I know your thoughts by the way). Surely it was a triumphant day for the Labour opposition in the local elections last Thursday and the Conservative and Lib Dem parties are licking their wounds?

Well that depends how you look at it. Yes, the Conservative party's share of the vote was only 31%. And the Lib Dems did as poorly as last year during the local elections and only ended up with 16% of the vote. Labour got 38% and are very pleased with their performance.

But let's take a couple of steps back here. For the last 2 years, Labour have done all they can to paint "the government" as being regressive and ideologically driven to implement the cuts agenda. They have berated "the government" as unfair to the poor and out of touch with ordinary people's lives.

That's right I hear you say (I'm doing it again), Labour have done that and they've done a good job hence your extremely poor showing last week you Lib Dem loser (I'm still doing you talking to me in case you're losing track).

But it strikes me that two different yardsticks are being used here. When Labour want to attack the government they attack it collectively. No quarter is given. No dispensation for the possibility for example that the Lib Dems might have to compromise in any way. No, they are fully complicit in every decision and hence fully culpable. And yet when it comes to the elections, Labour suddenly separate out the Tory and Lib Dem vote. But if we apply the same criteria as Labour normally do, lumping the governing parties together then suddenly the story is very different. In the middle of a parliament, with the government implementing the biggest cuts in several generations and having just tipped back into a recession the governing parties between them got 47% of the vote. The Labour opposition got just 38% of the vote.

Now just hang on a minute you say sharply (a bit too sharply for my liking to be honest), the Lib Dems are always going on about how they are a separate party. Yes indeed we are always going on about that and we are a separate party. But Labour never seem to make that distinction themselves. They are claiming that these local elections are a terrible verdict on the government*. If that was truly the case and the public agreed and enthusiastically wanted the alternative on offer from Labour wouldn't we have expected to see their share of the vote dwarf the combined share for the governing parties?

That didn't happen. Therefore it is hugely stretching credulity to claim that the elections last week prove that the coalition is on the ropes. It might be and there are doubtless lots of problems but the narrative that is being spun is just that, spin.

The reality is that using the criteria Labour usually use when it suits them, the government thrashed the opposition last week.

*I am well aware by the way that they were local elections and I get as annoyed as anyone that the results are automatically extrapolated into a picture of national reflection but hey ho, that's how everyone else interprets them and it would be like urinating into a hurricane to attempt to counter this.

1 comment:

Emma Burnell said...

Yep totally as predicted:

and yet another indication that the Lib Dems will accept a coupon deal at the next election.