It is with regret that Chairman Nick has not been writing of late, but all the vitality of the Scottish referendum has woken me from my slumber. We are now some seven months from the next general election, and it seems to me that politics has become interesting; to me it is always interesting, but perhaps it is getting interesting to many others as well, or will become so in coming months. The high turnout in Scotland’s referendum has shown that if the passion can return to politics, then people will become passionate about it too.
…..So back to today’s thoughts……..
This week has seen the annual Labour Party conference, and in between the impassioned pleas for a return to a mythical NHS (that appears to be the Labour equivalent of the Conservatives/UKIPs village England that never really existed) and attacks on such modern bogeymen as hedge fund managers and Russian oligarchs, it has struck me that there is a tension bubbling just below the surface in a way that I cannot remember since my own political awakenings in the 1980s. Now I may be wrong (it does happen occasionally), but just maybe the Labour Party is becoming the Labour Party again?
It is not bursting forth like a tiger pouncing on its prey, just as the Labour party of Michael Foot and Tony Benn didn’t turn overnight in to the warm and cuddly New Labour of Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson, but more like a pack of Jack Russells, taking bites at its target, gradually getting collectively braver as time advances.
There is still appears to be some lack of self-confidence amongst the leadership as to whether the public will go along with more classically socialist (if that is not an oxymoron) policies, but the signs are there. We have a 50% top income tax rate, a new property tax on houses valued at over £2m and conveniently forgotten paragraphs regarding the need for continued spending austerity to address the budget deficit and a tougher approach to immigration.
Now with the Conservatives taking similar baby steps back towards Thatcherism to neutralise the threat of UKIP, the next election could offer the biggest policy differences between the major parties since 1987.