Labour’s Greatest Defeat since World War II

, by Mark Seychell

Labour's Greatest Defeat since World War II

Labour suffered its worst post-war election result as it gained just 15.3% of the vote, even worse than party bosses had feared, and was beaten into third place by UKIP and the Conservative Party. Labour also suffered a historic defeat in the recent local elections.

Voter apathy was reflected in the historically low turnout of around thirty three percent. In Scotland voter turnout was only twenty eight per cent. In the local elections, Labour finished third place behind Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, with Labour losing control of the four councils it had held prior to the election. In a vote widely considered to be a reaction to the expenses scandal, the share of the votes was down for all the major parties; Labour was down one percent, the Conservative share was down five percent. The beneficiary of the public backlash was generally seen to be the minor parties, including the Green Party and UKIP (UK Independence Party). Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, was quoted in the press as having said that the results were “a painful defeat for Labour”, and that “too many good people doing so much good for their communities and their constituencies have lost through no fault of their own.” Critics go as far as saying that what is happening now makes John Major’s government look like a triumph.

The dismal results for Labour, coupled with the shockwaves of the expenses scandal that rocked the nation, will intensify Mr. Brown’s leadership crisis and could trigger more ministerial resignations and demands for him to step down. We do not need to rehearse here the litany of disasters affecting Mr. Brown and his administration, but let us anyway: the continuous resignation and botched reshuffling of cabinet ministers, the demands from backbenchers that he step down with immediate effect, the withering contempt of former colleagues, the abuse from the feminist “sisterhood”, the all too obvious inability to handle the expenses scandal, what has become of the shattered wreck that is the British economy, a backbencher walking out and forcing a by-election, a slaughter in the local and European elections.

After all that has happened during his brief but all too painful term in office, how much more encouragement does his party need to boot him out, and to live up to their ideal of doing what is right for the country?

After all that has happened during his brief but all too painful term in office, how much more encouragement does his party need to boot him out, and to live up to their ideal of doing what is right for the country?The reshuffle was one of the most disastrous in modern political history, since the days of Margaret Thatcher and her removal from Downing Street. It was claimed that the reshuffle would re launch the Government. Needless to say, it failed in every respect.

The worst part of it all is that unfortunately, the Labour Party remains as delusional as ever. For example, during the expenses involving scandal there were no subsequent expulsions, no removal of whip, just the banning of four heavily involved MPs from running for the next general election under the Labour ticket. Here is the irony however; three of them had no intention of standing at the next election anyway. As the recent local and European election results showed, this simply will not suffice. Yet, Mr. Brown sees no need whatsoever for a general election, for he has already elected himself. During a Downing Street press conference on the 5th of June, Brown stated, “If I didn’t think I was the right person leading the right team… then I would not be standing here… I believe in never walking away from people in difficult times.” Surely, a noble statement from the under-fire Prime Minister. Yet, was this Brown’s rebuke to the growing number of ministers who have resigned? Are cowards who have run away from their responsibilities? Or just ministers who were fed up of being pawns of a government that was always doomed to fail what with its lack of popularity from the start?

The question floating around the UK at the moment is wonder and how Brown can continue to put his head down and go on. Astonishment at how Brown could continue to sit in his office while his Cabinet ministers head out the door? “This Government is collapsing before our eyes,” David Cameron taunted in the Commons on June the 3rd, and that is certainly how it looks. However, even though storm is clearly and continuously building up, prime ministers still hold the keys to the founding laws of democracy, one of the strongest being the ability to reshuffle. Maybe, hopefully, another reshuffle can lead to a breath of fresh air in the House of Commons and in the Country, a Country which throughout history has proved an important and ever present friend watching over not only Europe, but also the World.

Image: Brown walking away from a press conference after a landslide defeat in the local elections, source: google images

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