Is Blair right that the Labor Party needs to be demolished?
“ JOB Won Local Election – Front Bench Mistakenly Redesigned ” almost seems like Martin Kettle’s subtext recent article in the Guardian. Entitled “ It wasn’t quite the resounding Conservative election victory it seemed, ” Kettle attempts to advance a theory that these elections were “ unique ” in some way and, as that such, the prospects for Labor are not as bad as they appear. It seems to be in the minority in this regard. Tony blair has a long article in the New Statesman this suggests that Labor’s time is up unless the party is rebuilt from the ground up, saying that “the Labor Party will not revive itself simply by a change of leader.” It needs total deconstruction and reconstruction. Anything less will do ”.
Blair is right. Under Corbyn, the party’s membership has grown and shifted so far to the left that it no longer represents a mainstream of popular opinion. While his cheerleaders plaintively repeat that his policies were popular, there is a difference between popularity and eligibility; people may love the renationalization of the railways in a warm and hazy way, but it is not enough for them to change their votes. There is also the problem that the sampling methods used by the work to assess public opinion seem self-serving and therefore were simply wrong.
However, there is one more factor that Kettle and his ilk seem to ignore. Politics are returning to normal after a five-year Brexit interlude.
Go back to 2015. The Labor Party had a collapse in the polls as it was assaulted by UKIP south of the border and the SNP in the north. While Ed Miliband saw an increase in the Labor vote in terms of percentage, the Socialist Maginot Line, or the Red Wall as it has since been called, was overrun Guderian-style by David Cameron as the Tories cannibalized the seats of their former coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, to create their majority. Anti-conservative voters in these seats appear to have voted tactically and sought to punish the incumbent president for his collaboration, leaving the Conservative candidate to go through the middle. Two general elections later and the Liberal Democrats have not been forgiven. There was also the problem that the Tories were standing on a platform of an in-out European referendum, which Labor explicitly rejected.
There was another factor at play in Labor’s demise in 2015, which was increased support for the Green Party. For example, Ed Balls lost his seat to Conservative Andrea Jenkyns by just 422 votes, a majority that represented one-third of the votes cast for the Green Party with 1,264 votes. Multiparty politics was at stake in the 2015 general election. The 2017 general election in England and Wales reverted to the bipartisan politics of the 1980s and before. In 2015, the Green Party of England and Wales fielded 538 candidates, while in 2017 and 2019 it fielded just 472, possibly because the party’s war chest had not accumulated enough money to present more.
Anyone who voted green voted not only against the Conservatives, but also against Labor. In the last two general elections, the Labor Party policies of Corbyn and the Greens were so close on so many issues that a Green voter could vote tactically. The Greens did not show up at Jenkyns headquarters in Morley and Outwood in 2017, but she took advantage of an increase in turnout to see her majority five-fold to 2,104. When the Greens returned in 2019 the a combination of Corbyn’s toxicity, the dubious promises of the Labor manifesto, and Brexit saw its majority increase by another five-fold to over 11,000. The green vote of 1107 was lower than that of 2015.
The local elections indicate that the direct struggle is coming to an end and that the multiparty system is returning. It hurts Labor in England more than it does the Conservatives. Now that Sir Keir Starmer is tacitly repudiating Corbynism, Green voters have no reason to support Labor and have secured council seats. There’s also the fact that Greta Thunberg actually aired the Greens Free Party political shows on news channels over the last year. At the same time, Brexit means the UKIP / Brexit / Reform Party chameleon will no longer significantly eat away at Conservative support. The Labor Party has not made an explicit break with its Corbynite past to encourage moderate voters to change allegiance, especially when Labor activists still use the term ‘centrist’ as a term of abuse.
While some Corbynist MPs have been exiled to the back benches and Corbyn himself has been suspended from the parliamentary Labor Party pending the outcome of a court case, voters fail to recognize that the Labor Party has changed enough for the vote is sure, validating that of Blair. thesis. They are also not tired enough of the conservatives holding power even after more than a decade and, despite the government’s controversial responses to the pandemic, it has yet to be seen as equivalent to blackouts. 1973/4, The 1990 tax riots, or Black Wednesday in 1992, caused widespread support to collapse.
The resumption of the fragmentation of the anti-Conservative vote on the left in England, and the virtual banishment of Labor from Scotland, has led to renewed calls for Labor to support electoral reform. Labor supporters now appear to believe the party will only return to power in Westminster if a proportional representation system is introduced. It’s a sign of desperation, wanting to change the rules to secure a victory after a never-ending losing streak. All Labor has to do is present leaders, candidates and policies that attract more voters, which they are currently unable to do. Labor has also been very silent on the anti-Semitism of its members. There are toddlers who can walk and talk who weren’t even conceived when NEC member Pete Willsman was suspended for making anti-Semitic remarks.
There are calls for Labor to form a progressive “ Popular Front ” alliance, which Clement Attlee resisted in his last proposal in the late 1930s. By the way, the Popular Front governments were elected at the time in France and Spain. In France, politics left the country unprepared for war with Germany. In Spain, Popular Front policies led to an army mutiny, civil war and fascist dictatorship for nearly four decades. A modern version of the Popular Front would suggest Sir Keir go to bed with the boring person, a vision I apologize for sharing with you. It also shows why it would be toxic to the Labor Party. Standing out in Scotland, where the Labor Party has only one seat to defend anyway, would make the Labor Party the ‘SNP south of the border’.
The good news therefore seems to be that after the dislocating interlude from our Brexit-anxious political class, British politics are returning to a form of pre-EU referendum normality, if not also pre-UKIP. This may not be such good news for the Labor Party. And as for the writers of Guardian, and those who read the newspaper sincerely, they are just never happy, no matter what the news.