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Day: June 1, 2012

Why Labour are the backup Quarterback of politics

For those who us who grew up on cheesy American teen sitcoms and/or films we got that perception that the most popular kid in high school was all the quarterback on the football team. He got the girls and he had the looks. At high school that might be the case but once these young people moved on to university then everything changed. The most popular kid on campus is rarely the quarterback – it is the backup quarterback.

Over in the states college sports are nearly as big as professional sports – certainly when it comes to football and basketball. I’m not just talking about the buzz around campus I am talking about really being under the national spotlight. Casual sports fans in California will know the college Quarterback of most of the big colleges on the east coast and they will know who Anthony Davis is and who Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is. They will know about the quarterback battles at various colleges and then of course there is recruiting and where 17 year-old kids decide to go to university is big business and kids make decisions on live television. It is the most bizarre concept to anyone who has never seen it before.

So why am I blabbering on about this? Well when it comes to college sports it is very rare that a college has no issues at quarterback. Last year LSU was undefeated going into the national title game but still no-one knew who should be the quarterback and fans despite winning wanted the backup in because the starter wasn’t playing very well. So when you consider most teams weren’t winning every week you can see how their fan base wanted someone else is. It is a bit like in 2010 when Gareth Barry became the greatest midfielder ever because he was injured and out of the team. When he got back into the team he was as distinctly average as ever but absence made the heart grow fonder and absence gave us hope that he could actually make the difference.

Labour spent 13 years in government until 2010 when they were voted out of office by the electorate. No-one was really voted in to replace them but the people wanted change. Two years later and the polling suggests that the electorate are desperate for Labour to return to office but it isn’t because anyone trusts them or likes Ed Miliband – it is solely because they have decided the incumbant isn’t who they want. It is the same as the backup quarterback – they don’t actually want the backup quarterback it is just that they do not want the starting QB.

People aren’t saying they will vote Labour because of they believe in their policies. They are saying they would vote for them because they just don’t like the policies of the current government. So I think Labour activists who are predicting landslide in 2015 and that the country has once again ‘gone red’ should take a bit of a step back. The country has most certainly not gone red but it most certainly has cooled off from the colour blue and the colour yellow is certainly not as fashionable as it was two years ago. People see red as the best of the three options not because they believe in red but because they disbelieve so strongly in blue and yellow.

There is one big problem though that Labour have yet to face. When the backup QB comes in they often don’t match up to the hopes and aspirations of the fan base and quickly they want the next backup QB to replace the new guy. This is part of the ebb and flow of college football and it is the same in politics. Labour won three successive elections not because they were popular but because of two simple things – firstly the economy was booming and secondly the backup QB wasn’t one that the electorate liked the look of.

David Cameron was the highly touted backup QB who has now stepped up to the job of QB and is making a pigs ear of it. Ed Miliband was the walk-on who got the backup job over the popular and highly recruited David Miliband and now he is thought of as a better option than Cameron not because of anything he is saying or doing but because of Cameron’s mistakes. There was another young QB called Nick Clegg but he’s not in the running any more after he decided he could play Running Back with Cameron and even though that got both he and Cameron on to the playing field at the same time which seemed on paper to satisfy the fan base/electorate in reality they are not happy with this arrangement at all.

Ed Miliband may win the job in 2015 but not because the country are fully behind him. They are just pissed off with the lot of them at the moment and he is seen as the best of a bad bunch. With such a disillusioned and unrestful fan base Ed would need to start strong or they’ll turn on him quickly.

It is a very hard job being the Quarterback of a team that can’t play all it’s star men and it’s even harder being a Prime Minister in turbulent economic times both at home and abroad. Cameron isn’t doing a great job that is for sure. Osbourne his long time to go guy is also having a stinker but they are not being helped by off the field issues regarding neighbours economies that are creating issues for the home team.

The fan base aren’t calling for Cameron’s head just yet but they aren’t far away. Unless he can turn it around soon then they’ll do anything just to get rid of him and by do anything what I really mean is give Ed Miliband a chance. He has shown nothing. Wasn’t recruited by anyone and wasn’t highly touted coming in to the Labour party but now he’s the only alternative and it is getting to the point where an unknown alternative is better than the known incumbent.

Labour and Ed Miliband are like the backup quarterback. They are wanted by the electorate not because of who they are and what they stand for but because they just aren’t who we have at the moment and people don’t like what we have right now. It is a bit like a girl leaving a boyfriend who treats her badly and just getting with a nice guy who’ll respect her but after a while realising that isn’t exactly who she wants and then moving on again. If Labour are going to win in 2015 and grow after that then they’ll have to have some substance and not just say ‘well we aren’t them’ and sit back on that.

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