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The Labour Party's cunning plan to lose in London

By Adam Bienkov
13 April 2012, 08:42

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Time is running out for Labour’s campaign in London.

It’s not totally run out. If they stop contemplating each other’s navels and focus on the man they’re actually running against, then there’s no reason why they can’t win back City Hall.

But the fact is that right now, there’s nothing that the Labour party enjoys more than tearing chunks out of each other.

On Twitter, blogs and newspaper columns, hardly a day goes past without one barely distinguishable, but for some reason bitterly opposed faction of the party, fighting against another barely distinguishable, but for some reason bitterly opposed faction of the party.

And what exactly are they fighting about? I’m sure there must be something but as somebody not versed in the indecipherable management speak of Purple Labour versus Blue Labour versus Black Labour, I’ve yet to figure out exactly what it is.

The best that I can fathom is that one faction of the party wants their candidate in London to win, and another faction wants him to lose.

Why this second faction wants their own candidate to lose isn’t entirely clear but as far as I can work out it’s because:

1) they don’t like him
2) they don’t like their party leader either
2) they think that a loss in London would force the party to change so that it’s better able to win elsewhere.

Sacrifice London so they can win Gravesham, appears to be their oh so cunning strategic plan.

The Tories on the other hand have a different view of elections. Their view is that it’s quite nice to win them. Every time.

This is despite the fact that over the past four years Boris Johnson has been a major disappointment to many of them.

Far from instigating a Tory revolution in London, he has mostly accepted the settlement left to him by the man he describes as a “barely reformed Marxist.”

The agenda at City Hall has hardly changed, and Boris has devoted much of his time to implementing policies which are total anathema to his party.

Meanwhile he has lost several deputies to scandal, many of his flagship programmes have ended in failure and all the while he has passed up no opportunity to undermine his own party leader.

And yet despite all of this, barely a word has been spoken against Boris by his own party in the last four years.

According to Sonia Purnell’s brilliant biography Just Boris, there are plenty of prominent Tories with a strong dislike for Boris and no shortage of ammunition ready to use against him.

But they don’t use it. Why is this?

Well this may seem a little strange to the cunning foxes with a first class degree in cunning from the University of Labour Strategy, but it may have something to do with the fact that they like to win elections.

In their view, and yes I know this may seem a little bit too simple, winning elections is better than losing them. Even when they’re not 100% behind their candidate.

And it’s not just in London.

Nationally, the Tories have a leader who failed to win a majority against Gordon Brown, forced the party into a coalition with a party his members despise, and who has managed to turn an almost universally sympathetic press against him.

The Labour party meanwhile has a leader who is presiding over consistent leads in the polls and is following an agenda most Labour Party members agree with. Can you guess which of the two party leaders is in trouble?

The Labour Party are showing every sign of enjoying opposition. The only problem is that the opposition they enjoy most is opposition to themselves.

Adam Bienkov
Adam is a reporter for Politics.co.uk You can find links to his other work at AdamBienkov.com.

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