Monday, September 03, 2007

More new comrades

Our government is lucky enough to be getting advice from comrades Patrick Mercer, John Bercow and Matthew Taylor.

Apparently this is very clever politically and helps to wrong foot the opposition. I'm a little bit sceptical about this - there must be a significant risk that all of our new friends decide in a few months to resign as advisers and slag off Brown for not listening to them and just being a power-obsessed control freak.

There are plenty of cheerleaders in the press for the strategy of 'dominating the centre' by bringing Tories and Lib Dems into our big tent while picking fights with the unions about pay cuts and forcing lone parents out to work with threats of benefit cuts. But while we can win an election without the support of people who think like Patrick Mercer (as we did in the past three elections), we can't possibly win without the enthusiastic support of public sector workers and people working hard to bring up a family.

The increase in support since Brown took over has come from people switching back to us after voting Liberal Democrat in 2005, and Labour supporters being more likely to report that they definitely intend to vote for us next time. Securing the support of both of these groups is absolutely key to winning the marginal constituencies in Southern England on which Labour's majority depends. No Labour government has won an election while cutting pay in real terms for public sector workers - twenty-nine years ago doing just this triggered the 'Winter of Discontent'.

If politicians from other political parties have something useful to say about a particular issue, then fine, but since July it seems like there has been a lot of attention paid to courting people who are actually never going to support us, and not enough to the people whose support put Labour in power and who we will need to win next time. Hopefully this autumn and the upcoming spending review will change this.


At 2:31 pm , Blogger Gracchi said...

Good article- I can see how Mercer could help on security- afterall he is an ex army officer but I can't quite see what expertise Bercow has- apart from being a fairly leftwing Tory MP- that many Labour MPswouldn't have!

At 3:35 pm , Blogger el Tom said...

All points excellently made. Especially agree aboout pinching Lib/Lab voters.

At 11:31 pm , Blogger grimupnorth said...

I'm appalled. End of story.And, as for his praise of Thatcher, well, I have commented on this on my blog.

At 12:49 pm , Anonymous Tom said...

Gracchi - John Bercow's expertise on children with speech and communication difficulties arises from the fact that he is the father of a child with such difficulties. He's chair of the APPG on the subject, and frequently speaks in parliament on related issues.

That's not to say that it's necessarily a good idea for Gordon Brown to bring him in as a government adviser, but I think he's at least as much an expert on the subject in question as Patrick Mercer is on security.


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