On this blog yesterday I commented on how far the Tories have declined from being the "natural party of government" in the 1980s to a rump of a party becoming increasingly irrelevant to the electorate. Well, what lessons have New Labour learned from that decline? The Conservatives, with an arrogant leadership became increasingly alienated from their grass roots supporters, and an ageing membership found itself unable to motivate themselves for the fight. Tory attacks on local government, where the numbers of Tory controlled councils slumped drammatically also further reduced their party activists. A number of sleaze scandals meant the road to power was opened to N.ew Labour, who could probably have won the 1997 election with a chimp as leader, the Tories were so demoralised.
But have the Blairites learnt anything? An arrogant leadership, alienated from the mainstream party? Definitely. An ageing and declining membership? Certainly. Council control being wrested away in whole swathes of the country? Yes. As Peter Kilfoyle, once the hammer of militant on the party right, points out in today's Guardian, the Blairites have either being listening and not understanding, or much more likely, not even bothering to listen.