They had nothing to fear

One of the most memorable and powerful party political broadcasts of the campaign last year had to be ‘Memories’ . You know the one – images from the dark, cold Thatcher years. Unemployed miners, poll tax riots all underscored by the vocalist mournfully singing ‘do you remember… the way we were?’. All too well, the memories came back. The subtitles reminded us of how Michael Howard had been a part of it. The message was simple, and powerful: you might not have thought much of Blair and the recent performance of his government. You might be furious about Iraq, but if you don’t vote Labour, you’ll get something much, much worse.
Many tried in vain to spread the word that the Tories couldn’t win – but it didn’t matter – the fear of a right-wing, Howard-led government was a haunting spectre. It is that fear that gave Blair a third term. Across the length and breadth of this country, good honest people voted Labour. Not as an endorsement – but because they feared that the alternative was much, much worse.
In Dunfermline, the voters had nothing to fear and plenty to say. They could have sent Blair a genuine endorsement, had they been so minded. They were not. They had nothing to lose and they voted the way they saw it. In a Labour heartland like Dunfermline, that says a lot. It says lifelong Labour voters are sick to the stomach about what their party has become.
What’s more, they clearly don’t seem excited about Blair’s annointed successor either. It seems that if Gordon Brown is to inherit the good ship ‘New Labour’, he will do so just as the funnel slips below the waterline.

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