Sunday, May 08, 2005

New Statesman May 9th 2005

The post-election issue of the New Statesman has Tony Blair on its front cover, in an expanse of water, up to his eyes, one hand raised... but headlined 'Waving, Not Drowning'.

Highlights include the editorial, which basically says 'Labour is still the only political show in town' and makes the point that Labour needs to pay attention to its working-class support and urges that Labour maintains traditions of universalism in welfare provision. By way of contrast the Liberal Democrats 'propose to revive the old middle-class welfare state... policies, if implemented would result in an enormous shift of resources from poor to rich..'

Peter Kellner's 'Can Brown recover lost souls?' poses two 'central truths' about the election: this is the first three-times consecutive victory for Labour and Blair deserves credit for this, secondly, Blair deserves blame for the sharp fall in its share of the vote since 2001. Iraq was the main reason for the swing from Labour to the Liberal Democrats: YouGov found only 16% voters taking this as a key issue, but for many of them that was the decisive issue and without that issue Blair would have had a victory on the scale of 1997 or 2001. Labour still has 44% identifying with them (as opposed to 32% for the Tories, 15% for the Lib Dems), but they 'underpolled' its natural vote. The Tories poll their natural strength, but fail to go beyond that. While the Lib Dems are in the frustrating position of being stuck with third place in an electoral system that punishes the third place - they need the Tories to either recover somewhat more or to implode.

John Kampfner in 'Blair's departure should be speedy' analyses Labour politicking after a campaign in which Blair was a liability and how Labour veterans will be attempting to smooth a transition from Blair to Brown. Kampfner was clearly writing this on Friday morning - he thinks Michael Howard would be staying - and the transition row is already public.

And finally John Gray glooms mightily on 'The Big Picture' about the future. The key issues are global warming and the peaking of oil supplies and none of the parties have a clue. Gray supports nuclear power on environmental grounds.


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