You can hear the wringing of hands and tearing of cloth all the way down Farringdon Road. Dismayed by the local election results, convinced that Labour will be crushed in Thursday’s byelection, afraid that this will presage disaster in the next general election, my fellow columnists are predicting the end of the civilised world. But I can’t understand why we should care.
Yes, I worry about what the Tories might do if they get in. I also worry about what Labour might do if it wins another term. Why should anyone on the left seek the re-election of the most rightwing government Britain has had since the second world war?
New Labour’s apologists keep reminding us of the redistributive policies it has introduced: Sure Start children’s centres, reductions in child poverty, raising the school leaving age, the national minimum wage, flexible hours for parents and carers, better conditions for part-time workers, the decent homes programme, free museums, more foreign aid. All these are real achievements and deserve to be celebrated. But the catalogue of failures, backsliding and outright destruction is much longer and more consequential.