Tuesday, May 11, 2010

End of an era

And with that moving speech from a great man, thirteen years of progressive government in the UK has come to an end. No, not an end, just a pause, for this is not 1997 and we have not been beaten like the Tories were and we have not been reduced to a rump of infighting MPs. Even as I write, the Labour party membership website has crashed, after new members were signing up at the rate of one every 3 seconds. This party will be back. We will revive, select our new leader and return, stronger, fitter and ready to win another term in government. It has been an imperfect 13 years, but there is much of which we can be proud. We have changed Britain for the better and I hope that those changes survive the new administration.

As I noted above, this is not 1997. The sense of joy, hope and change that infused the country following that victory simply isn't present today. Sure, the Tories are happy and the Liberal Democrats shell-shocked, but this is a private party. There were no cheering crowds welcoming Cameron as he walked up Downing Street, just demonstrators getting an early start on their 'Tories Out' chants outside the Cabinet Office.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I shed a few tears tonight, watching that intensely dignified speech, spoken in a voice struggling not to crack with emotion. I'm not ashamed at all, because if anyone says that politics doesn't matter, then they are simply wrong. If you are reading this and want to ridicule me, know that this was repeated in thousands of houses across the country tonight. This matters and it hurts.

For all that, I echo Hopi Sen's words. I wish David Cameron luck in Number 10. I happen to believe that Cameron's policies are wrong and may make things worse for very many people in this country, but I want to be proved wrong, because I don't want my countrymen and women to suffer.

But we will be back. There are people across the nation angered at the shabby deal done by the Liberal Democrats today and they will be watching this duo very closely - the Liberal Democrats have tied themselves firmly to the mast of the Tory ship and will take their punishment for what follows, they will be held to account. Those in the party who think that evicting the coalition partners will be straightforward need to remember our experience in Birmingham - six years and counting of a Tory/Liberal coalition. Although local government is not comparable to national, we have to take note that it will take work to recover, to convince the people that we are electable again. We need a new leader, but we must have unity and a common purpose based upon our principles.

So, farewell Gordon. Thanks for what you gave and for taking the punishment that you did from a vengeful media. I believed in you and I still do.

But now for the future.

What's next?

1 comment:

Bill said...

I got something in my eye watching gordon's goodbye too, John. You're not alone.