Martin Bright

Labour Now Managing the Scale of the Defeat

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I was struggling towards an analysis of the true meaning of the PBR in Friday's post, but a couple of the Sunday commentators were a little closer to the mark. John Rentoul, in an article with the provocative headline Labour is Unelectable Again the Independent on Sunday's chief political commentator has finally announced the death of New Labour. For him, Labour's latest pronouncement on the bankers' bonuses is the final death rattle. Labour sorely needs to move beyond the philosophy that made it so attractive to the electorate for a decade but at the moment it is finding it difficult to put one foot in front of the other.

Matthew D'Ancona gets it about right in the Sunday Telegraph when he says that the PBR was about managing defeat. The Labour Party's class-driven strategy is all about squeezing the size of the Tory majority:

"[Brown's] clear objective in this PBR was not fiscal stringency, but the consolidation of the crude nation that Labour are the good guys who still spend lots of money on nice things, and the Cameron Conservatives are the wicked, greedy Etonians who will force wee children up chimneys, re-open the workhouses and shoot Santa Claus on the grouse moors."

The point is not that this analysis is wrong, but that for a decade and a half Labour didn't need to say it.