Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Tipping point

Today is budget day, so I guess the ‘loans for lordships’ scandal is just about dead as a story for the time being, at least as far as broadcast news and the nationals are concerned.

So the issue now becomes, will the revelations of the past week have any long-term political impact?

At first glance, the answer would appear to be no. The alienation of much of the electorate from the electoral process has reached such an extent that these disgraceful goings on will further reinforce the popular idea that ‘politicians are all the same’.

Speaking as someone with two political science degrees and 25 years of activism under my belt, I reckon Joe Voter has just about got that one right, at least as far as the establishment parties are concerned. So the most probable beneficiary will be the Apathy Party.

Yet I’m still mulling the implications of the Lib-Dem win in the Dunfermline by-election. New Labour spindoctors write off the loss to local factors. An Old Labour MP I was chatting to this morning pointed to complacency, resulting from the party having held the seat for decades.

On the other hand, my spies north of the border speak of a collapse in the bedrock working class Labour vote in pit villages surrounding the town, who have secured very little from nine years of government from the party that once purported to represent their interests.

Now it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that Labour are a bunch of corrupt nogoodniks, cheerfully flogging seats in the House of Lords to fill party coffers, it’s just possible a tipping point has been reached. Just maybe the Blair Backlash starts here.

The forthcoming local government contest will be one of the first pointers. Although I regard Respect as a disasterous project for the left in general, it is obviously in with a shout of winning some seats in Muslim areas.

I also reckon the Lib-Dems will do surprisingly well, and we could even see the green shoots of recovery – hey, remember Norman Lamont? – for urban municipal Toryism.

But the real worry is how many council seats Labour sleaze will win for the British National Party. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and for once hope that mass abstention fortunately triumphs.

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