The money men have backed the Tories, which in itself is significant as money invariably gravitates to the coming power and vice versa. Historians of New Labour’s spectacular demise will argue that it was not the recession but the cash for peerages scandal that demolished the party’s electoral supremacy, forcing it back into the arms of the unions. The marginalisation of widely popular Blairism in favour of a grass-roots strategy, complete with a smattering of the old antagonisms, is evidence of this change. Beleaguered and fighting a hopeless rearguard, Labour’s chief weapon is the Civil Service. Whilst the Treasury’s assistance in compiling yesterday’s dodgy dossier was not novel, I can’t recall such a brazen example of a moribund government politicising the Civil Service; it was the story of the day. That said, not even Sir Humphrey could win elections by himself.
The corollary of this disintegration is that Labour lacks the resources to campaign nationally on its own terms. Yet the Conservatives persist in expressing many of their arguments (on tax and the NHS for example) in the exact terminology of the preceding 13 years, which rather contradicts the slogan ‘we can’t go on like this’. Not that they will lose, but the Conservatives cannot go on as they are; it’s time to seize the day.