I must admit that I have been a bit downhearted when it comes to the immediate future of British politics.
Labour have proven themselves to be centralising authoritarians without any understanding of economics, the Tories are more europhobic than ever, the SNP are irrelevant in Westminster, and the LibDems are not likely have any influence in the next parliament, either, given that they’re likely to lose seats and the Tories are likely to gain a huge majority.
But then Daniel Finkelstein wrote another excellent, original and thought-provoking article.
He basically says that the important thing is not what happens now, but what will happen afterwards:
In 2012, in all likelihood, there will be a Conservative government struggling with a huge fiscal deficit. The Tories will be cutting public spending, and the public may be turning on them. It having been assumed that cuts can be made merely by efficiency savings, the ferocity of the reductions might surprise voters. At the same time, it is quite likely that Labour will be moving left, possibly under a weak leader. The governing class of the centre Left, the people who served in ministries or ran quangos, will be feeling uncomfortable, disenfranchised, perhaps insulted.
In other words, it is likely to be an excellent opportunity for the LibDems to replace Labour as the main opposition to the Conservatives.
I do disagree with him in one regard, however:
Strategy demands that they become the main opponents of the Tories in the South, not the main opponents of Labour in the North. Even at this difficult time they should continue targeting the Tories in the South rather than Labour in North.
Obviously, the LibDems should not give Labour any chance to become the main opposition party in the South.
However, if they are to supplant Labour, they will have to become serious contenders in the North. This will probably involve beating Labour first and then wait for the Tories to push Labour down into third place.
I really hope they’ll get their acts together.
Without a serious and credible opposition party – something which Labour will be unable to be for at least a decade – the Tories will have free rein to destroy Britiain’s (and by implication, Scotland’s) place in Europe and the World.