Saturday, 24 September 2016


Listening to predictions and reactions from the Labour leadership election, I've been impressed by the many weasel words explaining how British 'democracy' needs an effective opposition. Nowhere in any of those discussions did I hear anyone even mention that the current government, with its Parliamentary majority, commanded the support of 36% of the voters in the last general election, and that the other 64% opposed them.

Look (to borrow a form of address oozing sincerity from the former Labour PM): Bliar won three elections because he could be sure of the Scottish vote and the vote (albeit decreasing in each election) from the Northern Industrial Wasteland (aka Powerhouse), and then he was able to draw away some (again, a decreasing number) of the disaffected voters in the otherwise solidly Tory English south.

Neither Brown nor Miliband could hold that English vote, and lost (Brown) the NIW and ('Red' Ed) the Scots. Labour's first task now, regardless of the leader, has to be to win back their core support from the SNP and UKIP/Tories, not try to become a more serious LDP. There is little middle ground available for them in southern England outside the cities.

They have to do this with policy first, presented in unity, fighting the Tories on areas where they should be vulnerable: offshore wealth, Brexit, the NHS, schools. By time the next fixed election comes (thanks again Nick Clegg for that one), to be fought on newly gerrymandered boundaries, and  without proportional representation (thanks again Nick Clegg for that one) Labour ought to know not only if they are in with a chance, but also who should lead them....

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