I think that there are three main reasons why people vote for right-wing parties at the moment:
a: the flood of propaganda in the media, not just Mike Hoskins style blatant partisanship, but the more insidious narrative of division that we are continuously fed, even from ostensibly liberal sources (imaginary roofers, boat people, etc)
b: the tendency, driven by that propaganda, for the middle classes to identify with the small cohort of the very affluent, often under the delusion that they have the chance of joining them. See also house porn.
c: property price inflation giving the illusion of wealth to a segment of the middle class (like any Ponzi scheme, this is dependent on them not withdrawing any of their 'wealth')
There isn’t much the Left can do about much of this immediately (not paying for media is one thing) but it’s pretty clear that one day, property prices will collapse. That’ll create a window for a Left government to get elected – and to do so, it needs to present a clear and better alternative to the right-wing solution (austerity, mostly). Once elected, they’ll be in a position to undermine the mass media (they’re already suffering and to some extent existing on bailouts from a grateful state) and hence break the cycle.
It’s whether we get parties that offer an alternative or merely minor mitigation of austerity that’s in question – and whether if the parties don’t step up, an alternative grassroots movement can supplant them.
I don’t see how you work that out.
Tories 330 – 1 in Scotland
Labour 232 - 1 in Scotland
If Labour had done better in England, they could have chosen to bury the hatchet with the SNP and form a government, or sulk in opposition to a minority Tory government. It was failing to get English votes that lost them the election, not Scottish people voting for what they believed in.
Taken in isolation Scotland is rather a contra example to the idea that only centre-right parties can win power. The Scots voters first threw out all their Tory MPs in the 1990s, then threw out all the Labour ones at the last election. At Holyrood, they have enacted free university education amongst other policies that the English have been told are impossible.
UK Labour (possibly in coalition with the LibDems) would almost certainly have won in 1983 if it had not been for the Falklands War, or if the Argentines had won said war:
That's probably the best post of yours I've ever read on here, Tom.
1945? Attlee could have gone to the electorate on a platform of similar policies to Churchill, keeping the mines and railways in private hands, no social security, no free education, hanging on in India as long as possible, etc.
Also, can I ask a question of Nick (and anyone else of that alignment)? Why, if you think that broadly centre-right policies are a good idea, do you support Labour? Why not just vote/join/support National?
(I'm not snarking, this is a genuine question that I'd like to hear answers to?)
To clarify, I referred to the Wilson/Callaghan governments perceived failures in the 1970s, and the subsequent election of Thatcher.
Blair won 3 straight general elections
How did he deliver different policies to those which John Major would have pursued in those years? If anything Major might have been less likely to ally himself with the United States' most extreme right president since the 1930s to take part in an illegal war? Or to criminalise teenagers for arbitrary offences on the whim of a magistrate?
The only difference between New Labour and the Tories is one of tone. In return, as I said upthread, British voters are denied any practical choice in their government.
I grew up in England in the late 70s and early 80s.
So did I. I got a free university education, just as one thing I wouldn't get today.
Sure, it wasn't the easiest place to become very rich, but the working and middle classes were somewhat better off than today.
Where Labour failed was that they applied authoritarian, top-down policies instead of empowering people. If they'd turned the mines into co-operatives where the miners chose their managers and worked out a strategy, they might have turned out a lot better.
In my view, for as long as the currently perceived benign economic and political environment continues, Labour won't win an election.
Received wisdom is that there is no support for their moving to the left.
It's unlikely, given ACT's poor showing, that they could usefully move back to the Roger Douglas era and position themselves to the right of National.
And it's hard to see how they can compete with John Key-led National on the same ground as better managers of capitalism.
However, economic and political conditions are rarely steady state. China is going downhill fast - we'd expect to see the economic impacts from that eventually hit the consciousness of the average Auckland breeder at some stage.
The question for the NZ left's leaders is thus not what policies they favour just now, but what they'd do about a banking collapse / house price crash / Fonterra bankruptcy etc.
Attlee was elected immediately after WW2, with the UK finances in dire straits. He managed to create the NHS, a free education system, nationalise coal and railways, implement social security and build houses for the many who’d lost them in WW2 bombing. He did this mostly by taxing the rich - when you go to the UK and get to visit stately homes now belonging to the National Trust, that's why - the government took the money from the people who lived in Downton Abbey style houses and gave it to the ordinary people. That is the answer to people who say such things are impossible in today's (much richer) world.
That’s what I call a successful left wing leader (the problem they had was an excessive authoritarianism – they didn’t give ordinary people any more control over their employers, suppliers and institutions than private ownership had).
All Blair did was to remove from UK voters the ability to choose between left and right, replacing it with a choice between a rurally based right wing party and an urban based one. In many ways Blair was worse than his Tory predecessors, because he had no effective opposition.