David Blackburn

Labour’s historic mistake

Labour’s historic mistake
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I’ve already mentioned George Osborne’s interview with the Telegraph, but it certainly merits another. As Ben Brogan says, Osborne is in a rich vein of ‘election that never was’ form. As befits the inveterate schemer, Osborne’s tactical grasp is impressive. He is quietly vociferous about Labour’s ‘historic mistake’ in electing Ed Miliband. Revealing senior Tories’ continued respect for the electoral tenets of Blairism, he says:

"They have chosen to move off the historic centre ground of British politics. I've seen more pictures of Neil Kinnock on television in the past week than I've seen in 20 years. That's old politics."

The old politics is the preserve of captive minds, wedded to ailing methods if not a defunct ideology. Osborne damns Labour as moribund:

"The intellectual pulse is not there. They're flatlining."

In the coming months, Osborne will hint and intimate that Ed Miliband is vacuous: a thoughtless disciple of Gordon Brown and a union placeman, a shelled pea’s pod for vested interests seeking to subvert the national interest.

Thatcher’s rhetorical delineations are relevant once again even if her policies are not. Miliband denies the existence of left and right in black and white; but on tax, public service reform, spending cuts, crime and foreign policy he stands to the left of Tony Blair’s dispositions and maybe Gordon Brown’s too. There is a gap to exploit and the Tories have the chance to hold power for a generation. Their success will depend on Osborne’s ability to convert those who still speak New Labour’s progressive low tax creed: that constituency of middle income earners living deep in Middle England.