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Labour disarray helps put Lib Dems on cusp of power

PUBLISHED: 15:58 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 07 September 2010

No doubt the Labour hierarchy in Haringey will object to the use of our word meltdown to describe their current predicament, but less partisan observers may regard it as something of an understatement. With local elections just three months away, every

No doubt the Labour hierarchy in Haringey will object to the use of our word 'meltdown' to describe their current predicament, but less partisan observers may regard it as something of an understatement.

With local elections just three months away, every week seems to bring more evidence of a party in disarray - at odds with itself to such an extent that even before the elections take place, it is now at risk of losing overall power for the first time in decades. If this isn't meltdown, what is?

It is one thing in politics to be beaten by your opponents. It is more wounding altogether to be driven from power by internal party wranglings. Just ask Margaret Thatcher.

It is now extremely doubtful that Labour in Haringey can recover from this string of reverses in time to rebuild the level of public confidence that is needed for a party to remain in power.

The puzzling thing about many Labour defections, including that of the most recent refugee, the highly-respected Cllr Sheikh Thompson, is the fact that it has taken so long for the penny to drop in terms of the seismic shifts the party would inevitably take under Tony Blair's leadership.

To any astute mind, it was never going to be the same. Did not the cynical insertion of the word 'New' into the title and the democratically-suspect ditching of Clause 4 provide sufficient clues to the eradication of its core values?

'New' Labour's desertion of its traditional place in the political landscape was evident to many back benchers, including men of unquestionable integrity like Tony Benn. And if it was not obvious to many rank-and-file members, it was certainly clear to the thousands of voters in Haringey who ditched their Labour MP in Hornsey and Wood Green at the last General Election and whose continued support in local elections has taken the Lib Dems to the very cusp of power.

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