What Does Labour Have to Lose From a Left Turn?

by James Kelly

Why the British Labour Party abandoned its traditional socialist policies, and the lessons that can be applied to the party’s current predicament.

When the British Labour Party abandoned much of its socialist ideology in the 1990s, it did so for one reason – the pursuit of popularity, and by extension the pursuit of power. It had been in opposition for almost two decades, lost four general elections in a row, and the question that was being posed more and more volubly was “what”s the point of having the most wonderful policies in the world if you never have the power to put them into practice?’ The moment that came to symbolise this dilemma more than any other was the 1983 election, when Labour was led by its most left-wing leader since pre-war times, Michael Foot, and had a manifesto that made radical party activists purr with pleasure. The party went on to suffer its most crushing defeat since the 1930s, and came perilously close to slipping into third place in the popular vote. Perhaps not unreasonably, the lesson drawn by the “modernisers” in the party – including the young Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – was that Labour’s electoral woes were directly correlated to the party’s ideological distance from the centre of gravity in the country as a whole.

“June 9th, 1983, never again!” was the new leader Neil Kinnock’s battle-cry as he embarked on the slow and painful process of moving Labour onto the centre-ground of politics where it was felt it could achieve electability. The most dramatic indication of the sacrifices the party was prepared to make came when Kinnock himself shifted on one of his most passionately-held personal beliefs, and agreed to support the retention of the UK’s nuclear weapons. In an interview days before the 1992 general election, he even suggested that as Prime Minister he might be prepared in some circumstances to launch a nuclear attack – an extraordinary position for a man who had devoted much of his political life to the cause of unilateral disarmament.

But Labour still lost the 1992 election, its fourth defeat in succession. Did this give the true believers in the “1983 maxim” some pause for thought? Quite the reverse. The fact that the Conservatives’ parliamentary majority had been slashed to 21 was cited as proof that Labour’s ideological repositioning had gained some traction with the electorate. The fact that the Conservatives remained in power simply proved that the process hadn’t gone far enough yet. So “New Labour” was born, and in Tony Blair the party suddenly had a leader who was probably further to the right than many “conservative” political leaders in continental Europe. Yet so hungry were the party faithful for power, and so completely had they bought into the modernizers’ analysis of what was required to achieve that goal, they accepted every move Blair made as being necessary. It was sometimes mischievously suggested that if Blair had wanted to reintroduce capital punishment, the party rank-and-file would have let it through on the nod.

And in 1997, the Labour party did not merely return to power, but recorded the most comprehensive victory by any side in a British general election since the 1930s. Some pointed out there was considerable evidence that if John Smith, Blair’s immediate predecessor as Labour leader, had not died in office, he would still have been able to lead the party back to power from a more traditional centre-left position. But not by anything like the same margin, the modernisers retorted. It did indeed seem to be the final, irrefutable proof that Labour’s level of support went up in direct proportion to how far it had moved to the right.

But fast forward to the present day. Gordon Brown has persisted with the Blairite strategy of tacking to the right, and yet the latest opinion polls show Labour at its lowest level of support since records began, and thus by definition lower than at the party’s 1983 nadir. Gordon Brown is a less popular leader than Michael Foot. New Labour was founded on the principle that if you are shedding votes, you must ruthlessly shed your current ideology to win those votes back. As it is the more traditional Labour voters who have been deserting the party in droves – witness the Scottish parliament election last year – the obvious conclusion to draw is that the party must shift back to the left to regain some degree of support.

The objection to this analysis might be that Labour cannot hope to win the next election with its traditional supporters alone – it needs the entire New Labour coalition of 1997. Unfortunately, the hard truth is that this coalition is long gone, and the next election is almost certainly already lost. To adapt the question that was asked in the long years of opposition to fit present-day circumstances – “if you”re going to lose anyway, what’s the point of having power for the next two years if you’re not going to use it to achieve the things your party is supposed to believe in?’

10 Things Women Do Better Than Men

by MindIt

I am not a feminist, but I am amazed at the number of studies that have found women better than men in various skills. Here is a list of 10 skills where women seem to be doing better than men.

 

  1. Women drive better than men.

    Well this reverses a social myth – that women are bad drivers. Carnegie Mellon University researchers found after analyzing a lot of traffic data in 2007 that men are 77% more likely to die in a car accident than women, keeping the miles driven constant. So next time when your husband asks you to hand over the car keys, just give him this article.

  2. Women remember appearances better than men.

    Some would say, “Why not? Don’t women pay all their attention to appearances?” Well, say what you may, but only a loser complains about somebody for being better than him! Terrence Horgan, research fellow in psychology at Ohio State University, and her co-researchers found in a study that women are more accurate in describing appearances after seeing people once. The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

  3. Women cooperate better than men.

    We can see this everywhere, but still if you want a citation, here it is. A study by Rolf Kuemmerli and other researchers at Edinburgh and Lausanne universities indicated that women cooperate better than men. In the research, based on games played by 100 Swiss students, women cooperated with others almost twice as much as men did.

  4. Women eat better than men.

    This is probably not so obvious, for rarely do we notice gender differences in eating habits. A survey involving 14000 Americans, conducted by University of Minnesota, revealed that men are more likely to eat frozen pizza and meat, whereas women are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.

  5. Women perform better than men in timed tests.

    So if time is precious, women are better at preserving it than men. A study by Vanderbilt University researchers in 2006 found that women score better in timed intelligence tests than men. The study, published in the May-June issue of the journal Intelligence, didn’t find much difference in un-timed tests, which meant women had a quicker mind.

  6. Women perceive their relationships better than men.

    Talk about relationships and most men will frown. Now you know why – they know so little about their relationships! A Hebrew University of Jerusalem study, after surveying 97 couples in the United States, found that women are more perceptive than men in describing their relationships. The study, published in ScienceDaily, reported that women were much more accurate in describing the perception of their partners than men.

  7. Women communicate better than men.

    This is now scientifically proven and acknowledged. Louann Brizendine, neuro-pyschiatrist at the University of California at San Francisco, found in a study that women can process 20000 words a day compared to men’s 7000 words (Louann Brizendine,The Female Brain, Morgan Road Books). This difference, as per Brizendine’s study, is more biological than social, which starts as early as the fetal stage.

  8. Women learn better than men.

    That is why girls get better grades in school on an average than boys in many parts of the world. Dr Simone Kruger of Edge Hill University, UK, found in her research based on remote learners that women learners were more successful in sharing ideas and experiences with each other, and hence learnt more efficiently than men.

  9. Women invest better than men.

    You don’t believe it, do you? We all know fewer women invest in stocks than men do, but the few women who invest in shares do better than their male counterparts. A study by the National Association of Investors Corporation (NAIC) for the University of California found that women earn on an average 1.4% more than men in their share portfolios.

  10. Women cope with stress better than men.

    A study at the University of California, Los Angeles, published in the July 2000 issue of Psychological Review, found some biological and behavioral differences in the ways men and women cope with stress. It found that women tend to seek contact with others and social support when they are under stress, which is a psychologically much better way of coping with stress than the “fight-or-flight” approach of men.

Of course, there are other studies which indicate men are better than women in various skills. The point I want to make is not that women are better than men in everything, but that men should stop underestimating women after being proven wrong time and again.