History, we are told, is always repeating itself - and it feels to me like we're currently in an early '80s-lite period, at least in politics. David Cameron will certainly hope so as he seeks a Conservative majority in 2015; for Ed Miliband there are big risks lurking, which could split voters away from Labour.
To be more specific, British politics now feels a bit like a watered down version of 1981/1982. We've got recession, unemployment and cuts, albeit that the economic situation in Britain isn't quite at a 1981-style low. We had riots last summer and have dispute with Argentina this year. The unions and the government are spoiling for fights, bringing to mind the early '80s as well (though none of these events is as extreme or dangerous as their 1981/82 equivalents).
The cabinet has hawkish and wet elements arguing about how to get economic recovery, but they aren't quite fighting out an ideological war - just yet. And meanwhile the Labour Party is fighting itself, albeit not to the point of anyone storming out - just yet.
David Cameron will be hoping that history does repeat itself inasmuch as he wins some kind of workable majority in 2015 - even if a Thatcher '83-style 144 seat majority looks impossible.
The risk for Ed
There is a risk for Ed Miliband. He's no Michael Foot, but some of his party is doing its best to repeat those turbulent days of the early '80s. The GMB union wants the Blairite think-tank Progress thrown out of the Labour Party. Unison joined the attack this week, calling Progress "intolerable" within "our Labour Party".
This could make autumn challenging for Ed Miliband. A fractious party conference in early October could let the Conservatives and right-leaning media reopen the 'Red Ed' attack, painting Labour and Miliband as patsies for their union paymasters.
Later that month, a march and rally in London by unions will ratchet up their rhetoric and get the media paying attention. If this combines with an autumn and winter of more strikes, Miliband will be once again in a difficult position, being able to neither fully support nor fully oppose strikes that will be unpopular with voters.
The return of 'Red Ed'
The 'Red Ed' tag could be back, and stick this time - making Miliband unelectable to many floating voters, and giving the Government valuable breathing space to build a case for the 2015 election.
So Miliband needs to act decisively and early to stop this happening. If he can nip the Progress/union row in the bud it will help him greatly.
Who's in the new Gang of Four?
Just as an aside, imagine if Milliband doesn't act. What if pro-Progress people were thrown out of the Labour Party or left of their own accord? It's pretty unlikely and arguably they'd be too right-wing for many disaffected Lib Dems to follow and form a new SDP. But you could end up with a split in the left/centre-left vote in 2015. And then we really would be back in the 1980s.
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