PASOKisation in Britain

PASOKisation in Britain

The once mighty PASOK has been reduced to the smallest Party in the new Greek Parliament. In 2009, it won 44% of the popular vote and formed the Government; earlier this year, it won a under 5%. Its decision to join the New Democrat led coalition in 2010 had led to a split, with much of the left of PASOK leaving to support its eventual replacement, Syrizia. PASOK has been killed by its own austerity policies and walking away from the hopes and causes of their political base.  …

About Political Strategy

About Political Strategy

Neil Foster writes that polls prove that it’s policy and the offer which determines the way most people vote. We need to remember that polls only measure what’s happening today but Foster’s corollary is that the offer needs to be sound and also that the government’s record is put under intense scrutiny. I should add that the policy offer needs to be believable. I have written a personal manifesto against triangulation and in favour of leadership and collective honesty by the political parties in my blog article “If only”. The poll is one piece of evidence that most agree.

I feel that Labour’s European campaign missed the opportunity to oppose austerity, and in doing sp failed to confront the ideology behind the Tories economic policies. We failed to engage in any vision as to the future of either Britain’s future or that of Europe. We have some way to travel.

The fact is that strategy must follow values! Triangulation legitimises your opponents politics and is not believed. No-one now believes that the NHS is safe on the Tory’s hands, and no-one really believes that Labour will be tougher on welfare or immigration. The policy offer and mandate must be based on an honest and truthful conversation with the electorate. It would seem that’s what they want. …

If Only

Last weekend, I went to see “If Only”, a play by David Edgar about the politics surrounding the formation of the coalition and a subdued appeal for the political parties to rediscover their identities; identity destroyed by triangulation.

If Only

Triangulation is a political strategy used mainly by social democratic parties and the US Democrats, of moving to the right and forcing your opponents to differentiate themselves by moving further to the right. It’s extremely cynical and extremely dangerous. However, if it’s just about winning, it clearly worked for a number of years for the Labour Party, isolating the Tories under the leadership of Major, Hague, Howard and Duncan-Smith. The danger in this strategy is that many of those who genuinely agree with the policies abandoned have no-one to represent them in the national political debate; the left in society become politically voice-less. A further danger is that neither the acolytes of triangulation nor their supporters believe in what is being said and promised by politicians, it reinforces the slur that all politicians are liars by making it the truth. …

On Triangulation and the Aircraft Carrier view of Labour’s policy

The Green Benches blog asks ex-Labour voters why they stopped. It’s one of the most popular threads he’s run with 73 comments in under 36 hours. Not one of them says it’s because of increases in public debt, or that they didn’t privatise more, or they introduced a bankers bonus tax or introduced the 50% super tax rate or the minimum wage was too high. Every single comment is based on a left criticism of the Labour Party and its leadership, both past and current.

In the “Refounding Labour” discussion document, published by the Labour Party in 2010, the point is made that Labour lost 5m voters between 1997 and 2010, 60% of these had deserted us by 2001. It’s hard to see what left wing policies would have scared off the New Labour voters before 2001, and while the UK’s interventions in the Balkans started during this time, the drive to war in Iraq had not, neither had the Labour Government set their top up fees to £3,000 p.a.

Some in the Labour Party leadership accuse Ed Milliband of seeking to “retreat to a core vote” and that Labour needs to retain its “Aircraft Carrier” policy straight jacket, where turns to the left or right lead to disaster. Others of course, including many of Eion Clarke’s correspondents reckon that he’s not fulfilling his Red Ed promises. I reckon our 2010 vote is our core and that attacks on trade unionists, the unemployed, the young and the disabled will only weaken us. Standing up for them might begin to win back that decent majority that have left Labour.

The problem with “Triangulation” is that your enemies define your politics. (Look what’s happening in the USA, and that’s what happened in the 1990’s to Labour, and its where some in the right of the Labour Party still are). Labour has a huge left wing hinterland that wants a fairer society built to serve the interests of the majority. We should stand by or return to that vision.

One of the most important tasks for a political party is to persuade people that your ideas are right, not to merely adopt popular ones.

End Triangulation ; people do change their minds… our strategy should be to tell the truth.


I wrote this early in 2012 and for some reason failed to publish it. Obviously some of the thoughts here went into the “If Only” article on this blog. I am tidying up the blog drafts list and decided to publish this, but have back dated it to the time I started it since that’s my usual policy to make the blog a diary. …