Even the most blinkered Labour supporters are opening their eyes. Jackie Ashley on Labour woes :
It may mean a decade, or more, in the wilderness, with only a fragment of a local party to sustain them; with no real media interest and without the money to run research groups, campaigns or conferences.And if the philosophy of Jon Cruddas is any guide, there are no new ideas to sustain them, just the same old Guardianista/Helena Kennedy platitudes :
We no longer live in communities in which people share the same customs and culture. But the ideal of community with its ethics of reciprocity and solidarity remains as powerful as ever- especially at moments of crisis. We seek a mutual respect that grants self esteem, and creates a sense of belonging.We'd all love a sense of community alright. Well spotted, Jon. But that's just what we haven't got. And who brought that about, Mr Cruddas ?
Yet are the Tories building a mass opposition ? Is Tory Blair pulling in more committed activists ?
One problem is the Grim Reaper. The decent old boys and blue-rinsers (aka frightful racist bigots if you're on the left) are slowly being winnowed away to join their forebears. Along with good Old Labour, the Tory representatives of British culture as it was before the 60s revolution are leaving us.
David Cameron's charm offensive has failed to attract new members to the Tories – or keep hold of tens of thousands of people who were already in the party when he arrived. Local Conservative parties have lost almost a quarter of their rank-and-file members since Mr Cameron took over in late 2005.
Although the Tories have enjoyed a huge opinion-poll lead for several months, they have not been able to translate the surge in popularity into an increase in membership on the scale experienced by Labour during Tony Blair's early years in charge. The total membership in more than 200 constituency associations – barely a third of the overall number – who provided relevant figures to the elections watchdog fell from 185,000 to 145,000 between December 2005 and December 2008. The constituencies experiencing falls include "safe" seats, the bases of shadow Cabinet members and target seats that must be taken if the Tories are to win the next general election. In Mr Blair's first year as Labour leader, his party's membership rose by over 100,000 to 320,000.
And what will British politics look like in the future ?
UPDATE - Paul Anderson is gloomy :
Outside its upper echelons, the parliamentary Labour Party has never been shorter of talent – and that is before the departure of 100 or more retiring MPs and goodness knows how many others who will lose their seats at the general election. Labour MPs’ morale is by all accounts still at rock bottom after the expenses scandal. At the grass roots, Labour is in a terrible state, its membership dwindling and disillusioned and its local government representation weaker than for 30 years. The trade unions are worse led and shorter of cash and activists than at any time in living memory. There is little sign of intelligent life among the left-leaning think-tanks ...
What’s worrying today is that the never-say-die spirit is so notable by its absence. At every level, Labour seems tired, resigned and confused, and there’s no new generation of activists waiting in the wings.