The results of the recent local elections, where Labour added a few councillors but crucially lost control of more councils than they gained, led me ponder just what makes a party electable.
I concluded that we are still operating in the shadow of two powerful Prime Ministers: Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.
Mrs Thatcher came to office at a time of ‘managed decline’, where the policies of both red and blue governments since the war had failed. The Thatcher governments had no alternative but to apply monetarist policies that were needed to tackle the great inflation of the 1970s, and our restructured economy now competes with the best the world can offer. Failing to increase social capital, her unpopularity increased.
The Blair government inherited a ‘golden’ economy, expanding at a sprightly pace, from the Conservatives, but spent its bounty attempting to buy popularity. When the great Labour recession hit in 2008, they found that they had massively overspent. The incoming Conservative/Lib Dem coalition was forced to rein in spending, again increasing their unpopularity. Life, for a Conservative, sometimes just isn’t fair!
The Labour Party in Brighton and Hove has been claiming that the local elections next year will bring them massive gains and must have been ‘stunned’ last week when hard-left policies promised across several councils did not produce the predicted Labour surge. They must now surely see that the Conservative Party has been successful by opting for common sense policies, and not through dogmatic social experimentation mixed with extravagant spending promises.
Labour should also now appreciate that, no matter what the media might say, the majority of you reading this will, in all likelihood, believe that although you sympathise with many Conservative’s policies, yet believe ‘nobody else does’.
I write here to confirm, however, that you are not alone: you are in good company. Most reasonable people were desperate for the Conservatives to recover their ‘Mojo’ and take the fight to Jeremy Corbyn: the most unsuitable person to have ever been one election from being Prime Minister. Last week we witnessed the start of that fight back.
Tony Janio is the leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council.