My alter ego spent last week roaming the Guardian political threads on the Eastleigh bye-election trying to discover the difference between the three 'main parties' and just how New Labour supporters saw themselves as 'different' to the other two right wing parties in the bun fight.
I suggested as a local newspaper poll already showed the NHS Alliance with an 18% poll share against New Labour's 10% - and this was before the NHS Allaince announced a well known local GP was their candidate - that New Labour should 'jack their hand in' and back the NHS Alliance candidate. The New Labourites response was there was no point in wasting their vote on a 'protest vote', a response I found rather strange as New Labour are polling alongside UKIP in Eastleigh and are, according to local election wonks, likely to lose their deposit this time round.
Next up I suggested Milliband was unlikely to notice a socialist policy even if it bit him on the backside. There were the usual straight forward bluster's of denial and little evidence forthcoming of Ed's socialist credentials. The next track was to suggest that when New Labour returned to power at Westminster then we would see a move back to the left by New Labour and that Ed's playing to London and the south was just a political tactic. There were a number of responses on the 'we are going to change New Labour from the inside' line which failed to comprehend just what happened last time some one tried this track and brought about the rightward shift of New Labour firmly to right of centre, tight up against the Tory Party. The history of New Labour is clear, it is embedded deeply in the removal of 'Militant' from the Labour Party in the 1980's. The problem is New Labour went too far the other way into to authoritarian, regressive, right wing, conservative politics and never returned back to the centre left, leaving in England and Wales a political void that the Greens remain ill equipped to fill at present.
What did strike me as I roamed the Guardians comments sections was just how sick fed up a fair percentage of the posters were with Westminster in general. Many were suggesting the biggest 'vote share' in 2015 will probably go to folk who do not vote at all - none of the above seemed popular. there was also a distinct trend amongst posters that the Scots were smart in seeking to get out from under a failed Westminster and a clear wish for a centre left party like the 'SNP' to be available for their vote - if nothing else simply to send a message to the 'main parties'. Very few on the comments threads had a pop at me about being a Scot. In fact one of my posts questioning New Labour and Ed's socialist credentials picked a 50+ recommend. The two poster that did have long been pinged as being New Labour HQ bloggers who tend to 'troll'.
We talk about a democratic deficit in Scotland with regards to being governed by parties at Westminster we did not elect but it appears a democratic deficit exists equally in England as there is no voice for the centre left - except to disenfranchise themselves.
It is clear that New Labour and Westminster as a whole is failing to meet the democratic ambitons of the UK. The failure is writ large in such regressive systems as the 'bedroom tax' and the ATOS Incapacity Benefits scam . Government is about balancing the needs of the economy and the people. Westminster is not interested in the people anymore as it is far too interested in itself, its status and its wealth.