I watched Question Time on Thursday night, but this particular quote from Hazel Blears eluded me until I read it in The Independent this morning:
"It might be that the electorate have decided to send us a pretty powerful message but the last thing they want is the Labour Party to turn on itself and be obsessed with our own affairs and not what the public want."
1. It's the same old 'sending a message nonsense', insofar as she cannot see the message is a resounding 'go away' and not 'listen to us'.
2. When a party turns on itself, it is a sign that a fundamental dispute, either over personality or policy, has arisen. What Blears seems to be advocating is that the Labour party should sit on any internal squabbles for the sake of winning an election. It is fair to say that disunited parties simply do not do well at elections; it is one of the things that cost Major so dearly in 1997. But her comment is unpleasant because, far from denying that the rebels have legitimate grievances, it actually suggests they might have a point, but should shut up anyway because it will cost them at the ballot box. People might not like parties fighting amongst themselves, but they dislike being lied to about party unity even more.
3. It's the 'what the public want' slogan again. The problem is that the Labour high command thinks what people want are loads of platitudes about listening and plenty more taxes. It's the old nanny knows best attitude; the people of Britain are just simple infants waiting to suckle on the Labour teat.
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