|Since the 'Iron Chancellor' Gordon Brown began his premiership he has shifted himself and Labour ever closer to the blast furnace. Labour has effectively transcended political divides, by angering almost everyone in some way. To highlight just a few: the repeated lost of important confidential public documents (with less than 11 percent trusting the government with data), illiberal policy on ID cards and the 42-day terror limit, failure to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, stealth taxes, persecuting motorists, the 10p tax debacle, and most importantly a crumbling economy. The prime minister's 'it is just an international crisis, not my fault, but of course the years of prosperity were my doing' attitude is doing nothing to help and with the threat of stagflation, rising costs and falling house prices the poorest are being hardest hit. Understandably these issues have tarnished Labour's image and have been followed by almost unprecedentedly plummeting polls. (See below: Voting Intention trends from ukpollingreport.com). Even in the Labour heartland their support is dwindling. The party is also strapped for cash, divided between old and new, and lacking direction.|
Whilst a leadership challenge resulting in a Miliband victory could conceivably reverse this trend, 44 percent say that replacing Brown with “a younger, fresher, more charismatic alternative" would not improve Labour's situation. The latest YouGov poll shows voting intentions favouring Brown over Miliband. (Amusingly, the Labour leader people would be most likely to vote for is... Tony Blair!)
A change of leadership would also fail to address underlying issues within the party or take into account future challenges, and without some mastery of economics and lots of luck, Miliband wouldn't be able to turn around Britain's economic prospects. This leads party pessimists to foresee disaster.
However, it is still much too early to confidently that the death of Labour and a fundamental realignment of British politics is upon us. Only a couple of years ago Geoffrey Wheatcroft published 'The Strange Death of Tory England' – something which has clearly failed to materialize under David Cameron's leadership. John Major was also able to scrape back against the odds in 1992. With a change of direction, Conservative crisis, and/or economic revival Labour may yet make it to a 4th term; complacency is, as ever, ill advised.
Nonetheless, Labour is already to some degree dead. With New Labour, the traditional socialists saw their ultimate vision betrayed in favour of a compromise, a 'Third Way'. Now all that is left to be seen is whether New Labour has run out of steam. The current evidence suggests that the reds are not quite out, but dangerously close.