Grave Moribund and his brother, Ded

So Grave Moribund has decided that he doesn't want to be involved in front bench politics with his brother as leader. That's understandable. He has suffered from being too closely associated with the failings of the previous Labour government, and he'd carry that baggage with him at a time when Labour want to present a new image.

But it is clear to me that his brother has embarked on a risky course, particularly by setting the benchmark that the current ConDem government should only last for one term. History isn't on his side. Thatcher and Major ruled for 18 years, and Blair and Brown for 13 years after them, so a one term government doesn't look likely. Grave's best bet is for his brother to fail at the next Westminster election, rely on Labour to knife him, and to then emerge from the old Grave as the new un-Ded leader of his party, untainted by his brother's failure. If he's lucky, Labour might win in 2020 ... but I'd still put his chances at only 50%.

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The big picture is that politics in the UK as a whole shifted to the right under the Tories, and Labour then did nothing to shift it back to the left when they had the chance to. They didn't want to. Many people in Labour hoped that this was just because of Tony Blair, and that Gordon Brown would move things back. He didn't.

Now those very same people in Labour believe that Ed Miliband is somehow more to the left than his brother would have been. But after all, he was Brown's acolyte, as Dave was Blair's. And just like Brown before him, he isn't. Labour's traditional supporters are just hoping that he is. That's why Labour's MPs, MEPs and their membership voted for Dave, they know that they cannot shift politics back to the left. Middle England won't wear it. England is a conservative country.

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So what hope is there for Wales, where we still hold to the idea that society is more than something to be privatized? A Wales where those who used to vote Labour were dismayed at Blair, but lived with it; hoped for better from Brown, but didn't get it; and now hope for Ed Miliband to be different.

What choice does he have? To be Red is to be Ded ... or at least consigned to the opposition benches at Westminster.

If we want a better society in Wales, we have to make it for ourselves. We have to decide what matters to us ... and build a society that's prosperous enough to pay for it. It means taking responsibility for ourselves. There is one thing—just about the only thing—that particularly drew my attention during the Labour Party's leadership contest. I wrote about it here in July. It was about what Ed Miliband said when campaigning in Scotland:

Miliband says Scots Labour must make own policy

Labour leadership contender Ed Miliband says the party has to embrace differences north and south of the Border.

On a campaigning visit to Holyrood yesterday to meet MSPs he backed the idea of the Scottish Parliament going its own way from Westminster on legislation, and of the party in Scotland having complete control over policy.

"The policies in Scotland for Scottish Labour should be decided in Scotland – that should not be controversial," he said. "Under my leadership we would lighten up about difference.

"The whole nature of the devolution settlement is accepting that within a United Kingdom we can learn from each other and there will be particular policies and ideas which would be appropriate to Scotland and that Scotland should be able to pursue."

The Herald, 1 July 2010

Now he's leader, he can make it happen. So now it's up to Labour in Wales to make sure they get the same independence as Labour in Scotland. I realize that might be a tough ask with Kinnock and Hain standing so close to him ... people who have fought tooth and nail to resist Wales getting more autonomy. But the choice is simple: in Wales, there is every chance of pursuing more left-leaning policies than in England ... providing we have to power to decide for ourselves rather than accept the one-size-fits-all model offered by Westminster. By focusing on Westminster, how can any party really claim to be working in the best interests of Wales?

If Labour can make that shift of focus, there is every chance that Plaid can work with them again to build a society and economy that is tailored to suit Wales. If not, we'll just have to do it ourselves, even if it takes a few years longer.

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3 comments:

Siônnyn said...

I do agree! Welsh Labour have to become distinctly Welsh, with a separate, more left wing, identity from their London masters!

Now that they are out of government in London, this might well be easier. But do the Labour leadership in Wales have the guts, or even the ability and vision to do it? I doubt it!

I truly hope they prove me wrong - because it will be good for Wales, even if a little more difficult for Plaid.

Plaid also need to sharpen up our act, and get our leftish agenda to eclipse the support for the language, which seems to be getting far too many headlines at the moment for the good of the party.

New leadership? I would say yes - Elfyn being the obvious candidate as he has grown in stature over the years, and is now highly respected even by his political opponents.

MH said...

Siônnyn, I realized after I'd posted it that the link to the Herald article was no longer live. As I was hunting for a copy of Ded's article (there's one here, I found this article in the London Evening Standard in which Grave talks about the Labour Party needing to become more English.

At first sight, these look like opposites, but in fact the two brothers were saying exactly the same thing, on exactly the same day, but for different audiences. Both realize that in order to win a Westminster election, Labour must align itself to the values that matter to middle England because England has 85% of the population. Those values are to right of the values held by most people in Wales. If Labour move to the right in England it doesn't much affect their electoral chances, because there is no other party of the left the English could vote for instead (although I hope that changes soon, and that the Greens will be the party that benefits from Labour's shift to the right). But in Wales and Scotland, we have two parties that have benefited, and will benefit more, if Labour continues to move to the right.

Therefore the only hope for Labour is for their politicians to develop different policies for the different countries of this island. They can and will remain in close alliance, of course, in just the same way as Labour will happily ally itself with the Australian Labor Party, evidenced by Julia Gillard's message at the Labour conference.

Siônnyn said...

What these articles - along with 'Call me Dave's' various utterances suggest is that there is a significant 'seismic' shift occurring in the way the English parties are thinking about the UK.

Far too early to tell exactly what that means for us, but with a bit of luck it means that Labour Taffia behemoths like Paul Murphy and Wayne David are on the way to extinction! Even peter Vain will have a lot to think about, should he get elected to the shadow cabinet!

However, it does indicate that the inevitable tide of history is on our side, and with more deep strategic and tactical thinking we can expect to do well!

I repeat that I think we should move our focus from the language - which thank god has a momentum of its own these days, but which still makes us an easy target for those who attack us as being just a language pressure group!

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