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Lesson of 1983: not madness but marginalia

John Rentoul

foot 300x199 Lesson of 1983: not madness but marginaliaGood by Stephen Bush, who wasn’t even born then, on the 1983 election:

Amid all the chaos on the night of 9 June 1983, an MP was elected for an obscure constituency in County Durham who would eventually hit the Tories so hard, Benjamin Disraeli felt it.

His conclusion:

The lesson of 1983 isn’t just to make sure that the hard left is never allowed to run anything, ever, and the biggest problem with the 1983 manifesto isn’t that it’s a far-left document. The problem is that it’s a fringe-left document: 700 pages of non-sequitur in search of an argument. It is impossible to imagine the Labour party now disgracing itself with a full-speed tilt to the hard left; but all too easy to imagine the Labour party spending the best part of a half-decade talking about things of interest only to itself. The real risk to Labour today is not madness, but marginalia.

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  • newfriendofed

    But i just read the Bush piece and it offers clear-cut praise for last week’s two speeches. These are the very ones J. R. treated with something close to derision.

  • Junius

    Much-acclaimed, scrupulously impartial and thoroughly disinterested Radio 4 recently devoted its Saturday evening not-to-be-missed Archive on 4 with an object lesson in political even-handedness, an analysis of what went wrong for Labour in 1983. While the longest suicide note in history was considered a major factor, admirable presenter Denys Blakeway intimated that dreadfully amateur campaign management was as much to blame.

    Poor old Michael was literally run off his Feet with an exhaustive programme of state-of-the-ark speaking engagements to the party faithful up and down the country, when he should have been concentrating on re-connecting with the wavering and uncommitted majority through radio and TV and suchlike.

    Canny Neil Kinnock effectively did his own thing, although he stopped short of admitting it was every candidate for himself. Although of course Lord Kinnock went on to get clobbered, not once but twice, predictably in 1987 and astoundingly in 1992. We’re all right! We’re all right! We’re all right! Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

    That cove who would eventually hit the Tories so hard, Benjamin Disraeli felt it. Is he the one who got the Julius Caesar treatment? Et tu, Ed!

  • greggf

    “….on re-connecting with the wavering and uncommitted majority through radio and TV and suchlike.”

    Perhaps the second half of the third paragraph of Stephen Bush’s piece is relevant here……as well as that other more recent stone in Cameron’s shoe.
    (Disqus/Indy precludes a quotation)

  • Pacificweather

    I think he lost because he was seen beating his dog with a stick.

  • Junius

    It is disgraceful that this scurrilous comment has been allowed to remain. Saint Michael is clearly about to throw the stick for Clem to chase, as the Indy’s Andy McSmith* will doubtless confirm.

    *Mr McSmith was Labour press officer during the 1983 general election campaign.


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