01 January 2008

Greetings, Team '08

Happy New Year to all and sundry...

Hope everyone is doing well. I'm well aware that 2007 was not a majorly productive year for giroscope, most of the time. Posts were often sporadic and pithy, the Friday evening blog review project was abandoned, and everything seemed to lack focus.

In short, by the end of the year, giroscope was looking at bit like the Brown administration.

So the objective for '08 is to Do Better in almost every conceivable way... at least 2 decent posts a week for starters, some action (finally) on the "Golf Ball" blog (first proper post planned for Sunday 6th), and also more contributions to Dilate, BHappY... more of every damn thing really, and less falling asleep on the job. We'll have a look back at the end of this month and see how things are going but I feel quietly confident I can get my shit together this year.

Whether Gordon Brown can do the same remains to be seen. To paraphrase a lyric from a band I was in back at school, "he had it/ and he's lost it." One of the greatest absentees from the blog over the last few months has been a proper analysis of what the hell went wrong for 'Newer Labour' between September, when they looked on top of the world, and December, when things had collapsed to such an extent that I was wondering if Iain Duncan Smith was moonlighting as Gordon's chief political strategist. (The quiet man advising the clunking fist... strange days indeed).

There is little doubt in my mind that the idiotic build up to the 'ectopic election' of October was the major mistake that Brown and the so called "creche team" of Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander made. These guys marched the troops up to the top of the hill, banging the drum loudly, expecting Cameron and Osborne to simply fall over, and then, when the opposition showed some last ditch bite and balls, cut and ran - leaving the impression of being (a) cowards and (b) completely green incompetents. Which they probably are. It's quite probable that a November election would have been a toughie, although I think it's unlikely Labour would have lost. It's a much bigger possibility that they could lose in '09 or '10 now. The polls, for the first time under New Labour (bar about a week during the 2000 fuel protest) are pretty damn awful. Of course governments have come back from being this far down before (the 80s Tories spring to mind), but the election-that-never-was precipitated such a wall of adverse publicity, with bad news for the government arriving virtually every day and from every quarter, that one was left wondering what the f*** was left to go wrong next. Northern Rock! Discgate! David Abrahams! Vince Cable correctly identifying Gordon as a cross between Stalin and Mr Bean at PMQs!

Meanwhile, Dave Cameron, who had been in all kinds of trouble in July and August with internal dissent and complete confusion over policy, suddenly started to look like a possible election winner. He was partially assisted in this by the continuing freefall of the Lib Dem's electoral prospects at the tail end of the Ming Campbell era - culminating, of course, in Campbell's quiet assissination by Lib Dem MPs desperate to recover some chance of actually saving their seats (those guys must be REALLY pleased there was no election last year).

So what can Labour do to get the initiative back? In some ways, not doing too much would be good. I can't think of anything LESS guaranteed to dig them deeper in a hole than another wave of bullshit policy initiatives designed to cover up the fact that the extra public spending money has run out - without producing sufficient improvements to convince the public it's been worth it and what they have left is an economic straitjacket that no-one wants to wear, particularly with a recession probably around the corner. Rather, they need to get health, education and transport policy sorted (admittedly a pretty tall order), whilst abandoning plans to destroy our civil liberties with crap like ID cards. If a cabinet minister would go on the TV and it were to look, even for a minute or two, that they weren't lying through their teeth, it would be a start.

Gordon Brown needs to stop being a neo-liberal who talks a lot to Irvin Stelzer and Alan Greenspan, and start behaving like the progressive social democrat that he has spent the last years telling the Labour party he.is He's never going to be a Bill Clinton style communications expert but if he could at least act like a man who's held a conversation a few times before when he gets up to PMQs, it would be a start. Failing that, a well placed sniper with a tranquiliser gun and instructions to fire if Gordon starts to flail too badly would at least ensure damage limitation. This guy has dug his own grave and looks increasingly ready to walk into it... salvation is still possible, but there needs to be a complete change of tone from the last ten years, and pretty damn quickly. Doing a hatchet job on Tony Blair similar to what Kruschev said about Stalin at the 1956 Soviet Party Congress would be a good start. If Brown isn't prepared to say Blair was a disaster then Dave Cameron, or indeed Nick Clegg, will be quite happy to, as the public increasingly comes to realise that it has been sold a pile of doo-doo over the last decade.

More on this rather soon. Hope everyone's recovered from the hangover by now!

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