9 May 2008

Brown’s bloody nose

On 1 May the voters of England and Wales gave Labour 24 percent of the vote, which is four percent less than Michael Foot’s 1983 result. Much of ‘Middle England’ reverted to Cameron’s revamped Tories while swathes of traditional Labour supporters stayed at home. The most prominent issue of the election was the abolition of the ten pence in the pound tax band.

Brown now says he made a mistake over the abolition of the ten pence tax rate. But what kind of mistake was this? Last year Brown announced, without a murmur of opposition from Labour MPs, tax changes, the desired and obvious effect of which would be to increase the rate of tax on lower earners while lowering it on higher paid earners. Brown did this with one purpose in mind, namely to ingratiate himself with ‘Middle England’. He failed totally, and he deserved to fail.

Brown is sinking fast. ‘Middle England’ is ebbing away from New Labour in favour of fresh faces. The working class is alienated from Labour. Brown’s knee jerk response is to charge further rightwards in a hopeless attempt to exploit ‘Middle England’s’ supposed conservative prejudices: forty-two days pre-charge detention, chauvinistic appeals to Britishness and militarism, increasing penalties for cannabis possession. Never under liberal democracy has a once social democratic party become so rotten.