Labour are unelectable with or without Corbyn
In that bastion of Labour values, the Daily Mail, David Blunkett has explained why Jeremy Corbyn can’t win a general election.
The Labour Party under Corbyn is not electable. I am at a loss to understand what the 313,000 members who voted for him believe they can really achieve in the next three years, and what the eventual outcome will be, other than annihilation at a general election in 2020. They have shown that they are completely disconnected from the broad electorate and, when that happens to a party, it ceases to be relevant. That’s my worst political nightmare – a Labour Party that doesn’t connect to the lives of ordinary working people.
When politicians use the meaningless phrase ‘ordinary working people’, what they really mean is the small number of centre right voters who will swing a marginal seat.
Those areas where the voting is tight, are by their very nature won by policies that are closest to the median of political opinion.
This is the mindset of the Labour stalwarts who have spent so much time trying to undermine Corbyn. Twenty years ago the tactic of chasing the centre got them elected and their current analysis tells them they can only win by stealing votes from the Tories.
Problem is, regardless of the direction Labour moves, they are going to find it difficult to get re-elected in the near future.
In Scotland they lost seats to the SNP who are perceived to be on the left of them. In England they lost seats to the Tories who are to the right of them. Whichever direction they go they alienate one set of voters. What is centre ground in Scotland is left of centre in the South.
Last election, Labour were seen by Conservatives as weak on the economy and defence, and they were seen by their traditional supporters as weak on socialist principles.
Tony Blair was a unique character, who managed by a combination of charisma and spin, to convince the electorate he could be a conservative and a socialist. He won by enthusing the grass routes at the same time as appealing to the middle classes. Corbyn is not the type of man to pull off this trick.
However, the problem people like Blunkett have is that, even if someone as influential as Blair was available to lead Labour, the public are not going to fall for the mirage as easily this time around.
When you factor in the forthcoming boundary changes the plight of Labour gets even worse. They are set to lose more safe seats than the Tory party which means they need to win more marginal ones to get elected. Rolling this together it means that any strategy will be difficult to pull off for Labour going forward.
However, Corbyn’s policies could on paper get him the top job.
What is considered the centre doesn’t factor in the opinion of those who don’t vote. The actual centre could be moved left if disenfranchised left wingers were energised.
Thirty percent of the electorate just don’t vote. There is an untapped mine of potential out there waiting to be invigorated. That disenfranchised branch of society who were enthused by the Brexit referendum could be tempted by voting reform, a safe NHS, stronger welfare and fairer tax laws.
He would probably not win an outright majority but he could win enough seats to form a loose coalition with the SNP.
On the flip side of that, it is probably pointless to chase Tory votes as the threat of an SNP coalition will put them off. Even if a right wing Labour MP ruled out a LAB/SNP pact, the fear of one will be used against them by the Tories. Besides, moving right will destroy the chances of finding common ground with the SNP.
That said, there are massive barriers to Labour getting elected under Corbyn.
The first is that Corbyn isn’t a natural leader who will struggle to reach those disenfranchised voters. The professorial metropolitan style doesn’t really appeal to the traditional supporter.
More importantly though, the establishment, including most of his own party will continue to attack and ridicule Corbyn. This fact is inescapable. You can’t win an election when every day you are being crucified by the tabloid press. You can’t win an election when even those who should be on your side are stabbing you in the back.
A Labour party that got behind him might have half a chance. They won’t though, they will continue to try to get rid of him in order to move back to the current centre.
Of course things change, but what is ominous for Labour is that they are trailing the Tories at a time that party has led us to the worst political crisis for decades.
As things stand, it is hard to envision anything other than decades more of Tory rule outside of the EU. This should be food for thought for any traditional Labour supporter in Scotland as a second independence referendum looms.