Monday, April 11, 2005

In British Politics, Be Careful What You Wish For

A few posts back I discussed how torn I am about the upcoming British general elections. My central issue is the judgment that Tony Blair deliberately misled the public about the evidence on which the war in Iraq was based. Max Hastings, a "wet Tory" by his own description, has a comment in today's Guardian in which he argues that it may not even be in Labour's best interests to win reelection in May.

His argument is based on a mix of historical analogy and current political analysis, but boils down to the idea that people eventually get sick of being governed by one party, that the party in power uses up all its good ideas, and that winning a third term can result in a deep dislike for a party rather than a two-term itch. As Hastings sums up
"Our system of parliamentary democracy cannot make provision for limiting party terms. But, just as the Tories today lament that they did not lose the 1992 election before the public grew lastingly sick of them, so some younger Labour MPs may find themselves boring colleagues in the 2010s with their regrets about failing to drop the 2005 one."
I can't say I completely buy the argument. I don't think it's inevitable that a governing party will run out of ways to keep a country moving forward. However, this feeling does rely on the electorate being capable of making a reasoned distinction between the differing ideas of opposing parties and not giving in to political ennui. OK, when I put it that way it's easier to see what he means.
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