In the wake of the US mid-term elections, at least we'll all be spared hyped-up accounts of the new media wonderworld that catapulted Barack Obama into power in 2008. I'm not sure that Seumas Milne got the message right in his piece headlined 'Obama needs a Tea Party of his own to deliver change' in today's paper.
My uncertainty stems from what appear to be profound differences between grassroots politics here compared with the other side of the pond. What's missing there is any apparent follow through from the organisational revolution that underpinned Obama's victory through the primaries, onto the Democratic Convention and eventually the White House.
Milne acknowledges that, writing:
Obama also encapsulates the dilemma of how centre-left politicians can challenge entrenched centres of power in a period when countervailing pressure from labour and other social movements is weak. The mobilisation of supporters that propelled him to office two years ago was allowed to dissipate.
The lesson for Labour remains as it was in 2008. How can we mobilise and sustain an organisational and campaigning capacity on the ground to ensure a majority Labour government in Westminster? There will be electoral tests in Wales and Scotland next May, where Labour is not as strong as it needs to be to do much more than benefit from revulsion at the ConDems / incumbency.
If there is a lesson from across the pond, then surely it about the electorate itself and political education. If we need a skilled workforce to compete in the global economy, don't we need a better politically educated electorate to understand when government is acting in the public as opposed to private/sectional interests?