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I think Labour may be over

May 22, 2015

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I don’t say this lightly. It seems to me that Labour is about to make such a fundamental strategic flaw, it will make itself irrelevant for the next election, the one after that and, possibly, forever. I have seen this in Greece with PaSoK.

Simply put, Blair’s strategy would not be successful today. Attempting to emulate it will be disastrous. Blair worked from a completely different voting base: he knew he “had” most of the North, Wales, Scotland and a strong base of working class votes everywhere else. All he needed was a little help from the Home Counties; a little push from floating/undecided voters in the centre.

Labour today does not have most of that base any more. Its vote is under serious threat in all those areas. It is largely seen as having betrayed working people and this is being exploited by UKIP, SNP, even the Conservatives. It needs to, first and foremost, fight to secure that base again. Nobody at a strategy level appears to get that. They think that, just like Blair, they can leave their homestead entirely undefended and forage for votes on the centre-right.

If we’re lucky, a new entity – possibly a coalition of progressives a la Syriza – will challenge from the left. And I say “if we’re lucky” meaning everyone, wherever they are on the political spectrum. The political landscape needs balance. Enlightened voters, wherever they sit politically, instinctively understand that a strong centre-left, keeps the centre-right honest and vice versa. If we’re less lucky, a party like UKIP will continue to shift in a populist direction and become the party of opposition.

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34 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2015 8:50 am

    I fear you may be right – Labour is no longer about representing the people, it’s all about focus groups, branding and being on-trend. That they are even contemplating a break from the unions is just about the finish.

  2. Paul Wheatley permalink
    May 22, 2015 8:53 am

    I completely and utterly, and regretfully agree. The Labour party is now boxed in so tight between swinging right for middle England and left for the north that they can do neither with credibility. Without the working class vote, they are utterly pointless, but Blairism is now so desperately entrenched that the entire concept of a ‘Labour’ party seems adrift, motionless and doomed to internal wrangles and feuds for the coming years. It no longer knows what it is.

  3. May 22, 2015 10:03 am

    I am beginning to think that the Greens may be a good alternative to Labour. If they get some more ‘photogenic’ leadership they could make some headway with the working class. I do like Natalie Bennett, but she does not seem able to carry the party much further at the moment.

    • May 24, 2015 9:33 am

      In passing, I’d like to point out they don’t come much more photogenic than Caroline Lucas.

      • The London Upstart permalink
        May 25, 2015 7:13 am

        Photogenic in Brighton maybe. Can’t see Caroline Lucas hitting a chord in Basildon or Thurrock

  4. May 22, 2015 10:44 am

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  5. May 22, 2015 11:02 am

    I Glinavos, if you think the most likely way to get votes is to thrust some pretty people into the limelight, you’re missing the point entirely.

  6. May 22, 2015 11:05 am

    My husband predicted this when Gordon Brown ploughed into the referendum, along with the coalition, with the lie that was” The Vow”. That is when Labour lost the Scottish vote. Traditionally the Labour vote in Scotland is both from the working and middle classes.. The SNP are a progressive, left of centre party, which is largely misrepresented and misunderstood by my birth nation. Labour was who I was. Sadly I could not have voted for the party in Scotland

    • Tom permalink
      May 23, 2015 10:02 am

      I just can’t understand this kind of comment. How are the SNP more left-of-centre, when they only adopted redistributive policies (already held by Labour) within the last year, and have previously been vocal about reducing corporation tax and income tax, and their record has often redistributed money from poor people to the middle class?

      • May 28, 2015 9:17 am

        The SNP have been pursuing progressive policies since they came to power in 2007, hardly “last year”. The fact that you put “already held by labour” in your comment rather gives the game away as to your political affections. The Labour party in Scotland was NOT pursuing these policies, that’s why they no longer run Scotland. Either you missed the point that pabu46 made, ie that the SNP is often misunderstood and misrepresented or you are one of the dwindling band of labour supporters who seem to believe that the actual implementation of progressive policies by the SNP is somehow less authentic than the seemingly endless broken promises made by the labour party. The Scottish electorate know better.

      • Tom permalink
        June 3, 2015 8:39 pm

        Yeah, ok. The SNP have simply aped many policies within the last year that were already Labour party policy. E.g. 50p tax rate. Feel free to list what *redistributive* policies (not simply trot out the rather meaningless *progressive* line [progressing to what…]) the SNP have enacted.

        They’ve talked left, but acted centre-right. The SNP are classic Tony Blair.

      • Arthur permalink
        June 5, 2015 12:05 am

        Labour also borrowed policies from the SNP, so what? The SNP may have talked about reducing corporation tax, but Labour actually did reduce corporation tax (twice, if I remember correctly?). Did you forget that? And Labour removed the 10p tax rate which redistributed money from the poor to the middle class. It’s quite easy to appear left of Labour these days. And in the case of the SNP, they are left of Labour.

  7. May 22, 2015 1:28 pm

    Profoundly depressing that Labour has so lost its way it is unlikely to provide an adequate opposition let alone stand any chance of winning at the next GE. Cameron is the new Blair and we are stuck with him and his party sadly with nothing to feel optimistic about. Today’s politics and politicians have morphed into a career class of people that simply no longer inhabit the persona of a real person with real life experiences.

  8. lesley permalink
    May 22, 2015 2:38 pm

    It makes me sad, but I totally agree. There is no-one willing to speak up for the low paid workers, unemployed or indeed anyone who isn’t part of a ‘hard-working family’ Moving towards the right will more or less leave a huge number of people with no-one to represent them.

  9. May 22, 2015 2:58 pm

    There are some fantastic comments in here. In all honesty, I fear for the Labour Party. No matter which way it swings it comes into difficulty. For me it’s about heart and soul. If Labour has the heart for government it will have to attempt rekindle the Blair principle and recapture ‘Mondeo Man’ leaving behind their working-class soul. Likewise, if they go soul searching for the likes of Andy Burnham then they lose their heart and electability for government. In my opinion the only way the UK can look forward to future left of centre governments is through PR whereby Labour’s principles can be firmly kept in check by other like minded political parties.

  10. May 22, 2015 3:05 pm

    Syriza’s success wasn’t just spontaneous, it arose from the massive grassroots anti-austerity efforts of ordinary Greeks. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/23/greece-solidarity-movement-cooperatives-syriza

    If we want similar for the UK we have to do the same.

  11. Sue permalink
    May 22, 2015 4:35 pm

    Thanks for the link, Becka. I had read the Guardian article back in January, but it’s really relevant to the UK now. There is a lot of work being done by volunteers, sometimes organised by churches, charities etc. in Britain, but it never gets reported in the press. During the life of the new government, I think there may well be opportunities to spread a political message amongst these helpers and those they are helping – who will seize that opportunity?

  12. Charlie permalink
    May 22, 2015 7:49 pm

    This doesn’t seem right. Labour’s share of the vote in London, Birmingham, Manchester is strong. It is increasing its vote share in the NE of England. At the 2015 election, it conceded – in effect – no seats to the Tories or to the Lib Dems. It has a strong base. Except … in Scotland. At the very least, any reasonable analysis needs to account for how Labour can simultaneously do well in English cities and poorly in Scottish ones.

    • May 22, 2015 7:56 pm

      You see, to me this analysis is flawed. It seems to include elements of denial. First, because it uses as a baseline Labour’s performance in 2010, which was its worse since 1983 and from which it lost seats and second, because it fails to take into account five years of austerity. Governments which have applied austerity policies in Europe have not fared well – all of them kicked out after one term (some sooner). The galling fact remains that Labour would have to win nearly 100 seats to be in a majority. That requires a very clear strategy and a very charismatic leader. I see neither in the current field. Hence my pessimism. I hope I’m wrong and you’re right.

    • Arthur permalink
      June 5, 2015 12:12 am

      Because people in Scotland have a credible alternative. If the Greens get their act together in England, Labour are gone. And quite rightly. They are no longer a party of principle. I have no idea what they stand for, but I know they don’t stand for me.

  13. May 22, 2015 9:40 pm

    LABOUR HAS LOST ITS REASON TO EXIST

    The precariat – a whole new class of people too temporary staff, part time, low waged, are not able to join a trade union. They are rising, whilst the old permanent salaried class has been reducing.

    This is why trade union membership has reduced by the millions.

    The rise in employment has been of rubbish pay in rubbish jobs.

    Not least with zero hour contracts that means a family ahs to fall back on foodbanks to feed the kids.

    Labour ignored the precariat, the disabled, the sick, the terminally ill, the starving sanctioned even babes in wombs to grannies denied state pension payout by raised retirement age, poor pensioners and the new poor pensioners facing the abolition of the state pension from the biggest con in UK history of the flat rate pension next year,
    where everybody gets different amounts for decades to come and a great many will get NIL.

    http://swansengland.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/did-government-hoodwink-us-all-as-far.html

    LABOUR ISN’T WINNING, IT JUST ISN’T LOSING IN ITS ENGLAND SEATS

    Labour’s Tristam Hunt was on telly this evening, dropping out of the leadership race, because his Stoke Central voting area had the lowest voter turnout of all seats, with up to 51 per cent not coming out to vote for any party.

    If you look at so-called Labour safe seats, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy in England and Wales, by most of the voters not coming out to vote at all.

    SOME LABOUR LOST TO TORIES

    After Mr Balls spent all his time saying Labour would not reverse Tory spending cuts and not change anything in the last Tory budget before the election, it was no great surprise his lost his seat to a Tory MP.

    THE SWANS NEW PARTY

    The SNP predict this tiny majority Tory government will not last 6 months.

    It certainly will not last much beyond, when the Tory wives discover how much less than even current pension money they will get out of the flat rate pension. Flat alright. Flat as a pancake.

    I am half Greek.

    A SYRIZA fan, who watched them grow from 4 per cent of the vote to 30 per cent of the vote in one month of twoi general elections, and then this landslide victory.

    PASOK died in the same way that Labour has died.

    So I have written up an England version of SYRIZA.

    A party written up from the people, after my listening to them for two thirds of a century as part English.

    The Swans new party is only needed in England, as the SNP have saved the Scottish and Plaid Cymru is also an anti austerity party for Wales, having saved its devolved NHS.

    See more about The Swans through my web page

    http://www.theswansnewparty.org.uk

    Only your young feet can give The Swans new party legs to walk into reality.

    • The London Upstart permalink
      May 25, 2015 7:22 am

      Trouble with starting from scratch with a new party is that you split the vote on the left, which can be murder in a first past the past system. I think the best bet is ‘Entryism’ (or seeing that it was ours in the first place ‘re-entryism’) within the Labour party. Take it back from the Blairites and make it left of centre again

  14. May 23, 2015 12:05 am

    True true, Labour didn’t support the nurses, firemen. The working class, Do many “working class” think of them selves as working class any more, aren’t we all wanna be wealthy, and home owning, shiney car driving cap doffing, (but we don’t get that bit) selfish empathy lacking swill ?. Labour has not convinced us that the Tories really do think of us as plebs to be milked.Despite the bank bailouts, Thatcher’s peado parilament,and subsqent inquiry debacle, Food banks, Zero hour contracts, snoopers charter, NHS sell off, energy prices going through the roof, tax dodgers, the huge increase of wealth to a small minority, in fact the huge transfer of wealth from public purse to private pocket et al et al. labour had enough ammo to hang the Tories out to dry, but didn’t, why? because the Iraq war, expenses scandals,house flipping, we think they are one and the same.
    As Rory Bremner put it the other night, we voted for more money (wait for a VAT hike) and a new car.
    It all went wrong when channel 4 replaced an informative, international morning news for I Love Raymond.

    • May 23, 2015 12:06 am

      Oh yeah and we are stupid enough to fall for bonking Boris’s act.

    • The London Upstart permalink
      May 25, 2015 7:26 am

      This is the trouble – working classes don’t consider themselves working class anymore when they clearly are. A working class vote for the Tories is considered ‘aspirational’. There’s a huge need to point out that a working class person voting left wing is aspirational too. People who voted for Clement Atlee in the 1940s were aspirational, they voted against the austerity which Churchill wanted to continue

      • Graham Hughes permalink
        May 28, 2015 11:17 pm

        Aspiration should be to aspire to a better society for everyone so we all benefit from living in that society, not to aspire to appropriate more off society’s wealth at the expense of our fellow citizens and end up with a divided society that ultimately benefits nobody except those who have accumulated so much wealth they can isolate themselves from the rest of society.

  15. May 23, 2015 7:01 am

    Sadly, Alexis, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

  16. May 24, 2015 9:48 am

    I suspect the Tories will split (we can see this beginning over Human Rights) into Neoliberal and anti-Neoliberal factions, and so will what’s left of Labour, all of the leadership contenders having declared themselves varying shades of Neoliberal already. New political parties will form based around both elements, probably within this Parliament. Really, Right vs Left is so last generation; I don’t know why we’re still talking about it. Time we moved on!

  17. May 25, 2015 6:46 am

    Reblogged this on Sid's Blog and commented:
    labour less

  18. May 25, 2015 4:59 pm

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

  19. YESGUY permalink
    June 3, 2015 4:03 pm

    We said LIEbour would die after the referendum. People were angry not just because they stood by the Tories, but for the abuse and smearing of half the people of Scotland . Standing outside asda and b&q smiling at the threat to up prices or move away.

    Throw in milliband laughingly telling us Scots our votes don’t count as he would refuse to work with the elected mp’s from Scotland. he would prefer a Tory Govt.

    I bet Cameron chocked on his champers. The working class people of England turned away in disgust.

    No way back in Scotland. Liebour cannot be trusted . That’s at least 40-50 seats. Scots are gone for good.

    The ruk will end up with a tory copy. just wait and see.

    Epic fail .

    As a new SMP member and former Labour voter, and i am one of so many will keep the SNP right. We have input and will never be used again.

    Radical Indi Party or Commonweal will take up the slack from Labours demise.

    Folks down south have to organise and get the party YOU want not what WM offer

    • June 3, 2015 5:57 pm

      Sorry – I switched off in the first sentence on the word “LIEbour”. I know of no better way to announce to the world that you haven’t got anything original to say.

  20. Arsenal Highbury permalink
    June 4, 2015 11:16 pm

    Labours problem was that they tried to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, and their traditional voters recognised this, Scotland especially.
    Without the Scottish and Welsh vote Labour are fairly insignificant, on their own they will not be able to gain power and will always need to go into a coalition government.
    They could get hammered in the local elections especially in their heartlands in England, UKIP could deal them a big blow in the traditional working class areas and their relevance will diminish even more so.

    What will be interesting is if UKIP continue to poll well, if so then the tories could be seen as more moderate and acceptable to some voters who would otherwise shun them, thus driving the nail firmly into labours coffin.

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