Dr Jim McAloon teaches History at Victoria University, and in today’s DomPost has some valuable history lessons for Labour.
In the wake of the Labour Party’s dismal election result last year, and its recent internal review, some commentators are suggesting that Labour’s in terminal decline.
Reports of the party’s death are, however, decidedly premature.
No political party enjoys going backwards in Opposition, but last year was not the first time this has happened to Labour.
In 1949, the first Labour government was tossed out with 47 per cent of the popular vote. In 1954 Labour’s vote fell to 44 per cent, but the party won government in 1957 with 48 per cent.
Labour also lost ground in the 1960s, with its popular vote falling from 44 per cent to 41 per cent in 1966, the party’s first election with Norman Kirk as leader and after six years in opposition.
Six years later, Norman Kirk was prime minister.
I am not suggesting that the Labour Party should simply wait for the pendulum to swing.
While that might in due course deliver a spell in government, without a clear vision of why the party exists, there is little point in being in office.
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