The reverberations of defeat

Labour and UKIP continue to tear strips off themselves...

The Government has now settled down following its shock victory at the last election, but the reverberations of their defeat continue through the opposition parties.  Contenders for the Labour leadership fall over each other to say what went wrong with Ed Miliband’s premiership, and how they’d put it right.  This is all the more difficult a position to put forward convincingly, since battle appears to be opening up between two old hands who worked alongside Miliband throughout his leadership. Andy Burnham, tacking slightly left, and Yvette Cooper, not yet sure what she stands for, are moving ahead in nominations.  Whilst both are well known and a safe pair of hands, as senior Ministers under Gordon Brown, they will inevitably face the melodrama of ‘did Labour spend too much’ as soon as they are elected.  How they handle that question in the months to come could set the context for the next five years of attacks on Labour by the Conservatives, and shape whether they stand a chance of winning in 2020.

Despite being only a minor parliamentary force, UKIP’s recriminations are hitting the headlines, with the fallout from Nigel Farage’s ‘unresignation’ (hashtag) still being felt.  Last night their economics spokesman resigned from that position having called Farage ‘snarling and thin skinned’, and their head of policy Suzanne Evans will be replaced.  If UKIP have the same internal tensions as other parties with only one MP, it’s not clear how their fratricide would manifest itself if they were a bigger force.  Meanwhile spare a thought for the Liberal Democrats, who have suffered defeat largely in silence.  So much so that when it came to the debate around the election of the Speaker on Monday, John Bercow forgot to call them and so Alistair Carmichael was forced to speak last.  Politics can be a cruel sport.


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