Thursday, May 22, 2008

Labour deserves to lose Crewe but Conservatives don't deserve to win

It is over an hour to go before the close of polls but I would be in need of a reality transplant if I were to deny that the Conservatives will win. Frankly, Labour deserve to lose today. The byelection is not just about sending Gordon Brown a message about his performance. It is a message to the whole Labour party. They all sucked up to Brown (okay a few honourable exceptions) and handed him the Labour crown. And on issues such as the 10p tax, they backed it. They cheered it last year. They voted for it. The Labour party is as guilty as sin. Their attempt to back off from the 10p tax is nothing other than panic on a vast scale.

The revival of the class war message may excite the old Labour hacks who will dribble and drool at the prospect of being able to trot out this rubbish but it is a symptom of the lack of a decent, clear message Labour can offer. Class war fills the gap but it shows them up to be devoid of ideas and with nothing positive to say.

Labour therefore deserve the thrashing they will get tonight. Brown won't resign as a result however and no one will want to oust him. After all, the likelihood of a Labour revival sufficient to win the next general election with a majority is small. Which aspiring Leader from the younger generation will want to take over at the helm of a ship already holed below the waterline? They will wait for Labour to go down to defeat then try for the leadership after Brown has been disposed of. Why carry the stigma of defeat? Leave that to Brown.

But what of the Conservatives.? It seems to me that the Vote Blue, Go Green slogan was the first to get the chop. Whilst Labour's stealth tax on older, larger vehicles is unreasonable (the tax was meant to change behaviour - ie to encourage people to buy cleaner vehicles) imposing it years after the decisions were taken is simply a new tax to raise revenue, rather than an attempt to go green. Introducing higher VED on more polluting vehicles bought after the higher VED is introduced is reasonable. People will know what their liabilities are. But the Conservative response to this? Throw out the whole of the green tax. So much for going green. Their first opportunity to back green action, and they abandon it in the pursuit of a by-election victory.

I have seen the Tory leaflets in Crewe which completely misrepresent the VED changes. Their calls to scrap the tax is in direct conflict with what they were calling for last year - a shift in taxes onto pollution. They surely can't with any shred on honesty now say "Vote Blue, Go Green". I suspect if they were to continue using the slogan, it would be a case of Vote Blue go red faced with embarrassment.

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