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Sunday, November 07, 2004

The danger for the Democratic Party

OK, I know no one is really interested in this observation, but I thought I'd offer it anyway.

In 1997 the Tory Party lost to the Labour Party. It was a rout of gigantic proportions. In the previous few years Labour had slowly adopted many of the more centrist Tory positions, and there was a demand to create "clear blue water" between the parties. This pushed the Tories further to the right (when they had already been pushed right by Maggie Thatcher).

In 2001 the Tories remained in the Wilderness. Barring something spectacular I cannot imagine a substantially different result this time about.

In 1979 the Labour government of James Callaghan lost to the rejuvenated Tories of Margaret Thatcher. The margin wasn't so great, but the party closed in on itself, and became more Socialist. In 1983 and 1987 they were hammered at the polls. In 1992 lingering doubts over those Socialist days helped lose them an election they should have been able to win. It took another 5 years before they could return from the Wilderness.

I have a sense at the moment that the Democratic Party are in a place similar to that the Labour Party were in 1979, and that I remember the Tory Party were in in 1997. Maggie Thatcher and Tony Blair are transformative politicians, but it is the quality of their opponents that allowed and allows them to command the huge Parliamentary majorities that they did and do. Their opponents in effect conceded the elections by putting themselves into the comfortable cocoon of political wilderness.

There are parallels here that I think the Democrats need to be aware of, and take on board.

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