That wasn’t an election result, it was a 5-year prison sentence

This election has coincided with me being more ill than I can ever remember. A dose of real flu, the sort of uncontrollable-shivering-sweat-dripping-eyeball-aching-nearly-passing-out kind of flu which has made me, perhaps for the first time, genuinely question my mortality. As a result, I suspect I’m quite unique amongst non-Tories in that the election result couldn’t make me feel worse than I already did.

Still, it is now starting to sink in. I’ll be 50 years old before there’s another chance of getting rid of the Tories, and with the boundary changes they’re about to force through, plus the likely departure of Scotland, it’s actually quite hard to see how that’s going to happen. This is terrible news for me, of course, as I’m a teacher in a state school, and the education policy changes the Tories are about to impose are horrific. The changes to A-Level and GCSE exams, SATs “resits”, the enforced Ebacc, the death of vocational qualifications, these will all hurt my own children, and many thousands of other children. That’s before we even get to the big budget cuts on the way (I heard that the Pupil Premium might be in Tory sights now those pesky LibDems aren’t there any more), and the enforced privatisation of schools into private companies. Frankly, it couldn’t be grimmer. I was no fan of Tristram Hunt’s timidity, but it would have been a thousand times better than this forthcoming nightmare. It says something that my best hope now is that, as a teacher near the top of the pay scale, I’ll be offered redundancy as a cost-saving measure by my school. If I am, I’ll bite their hands off.David-Cameron-Election-2015-273938

DC : “And I’ll be in charge until you’re in secondary school….”

Child : “Shit. SATS resits here I come.”

I see the post-mortem has already begun of why we’ve ended up with this situation, and positions are already being drawn up. From the right of the spectrum comes the Tory argument that “Red Ed” was too much of a lefty, and by adopting such appalling marxist policies as imposing a 50% tax on very rich people, he lost the support of middle England. From the left comes the argument that the huge increase in votes to the SNP and Greens suggest that a more explicitly left-wing anti-austerity stance by Labour would have won sufficient anti-Tory voters to claim victory. In a sense, this is the difference between a position of despair or hope, I guess. The former position says that the 35% of the electorate who don’t vote are unreachable and not worth the effort – the only people who count are those swing-voters in a handful of Lab-Tory marginals. The latter position says that there are millions of voters out there who used to vote Labour, who could be persuaded to do so, if only there was a coherent message which chimed with them. This has been the argument in Labour now for a decade. I don’t see it ending any time soon. The right will point to the absence of a swing in Swindon, Nuneaton and other battleground seats, while the left will ask which of those millions of Green, SNP – or indeed, UKIP – voters didn’t vote Labour because they saw it as too left-wing ?

My natural inclination is towards the latter position, and I’d point to the Green voters, the no-shows and the disenchanted Ukippers in Lab-Con marginals as the people to target with a convincing narrative that Labour isn’t just a red Tory party which doesn’t speak to them. But I understand why those on the right will feel that this result vindicates their belief that only by returning to Blairism will Labour return to power, even if few of them (see arch-Blairite Martin Kettle in the Guardian for an example of this) have yet come up with a convincing explanation of how one wins back seats in Scotland by moving further towards the Tories.

Scots

Tony Blair’s suggestion that Labour simply needs to be more like the Tories to win back those lost voters is embraced enthusiastically north of the border

To a certain extent, though, I feel this all misses the point a bit. My old politics professor at university used to say that we only have two kinds of elections in this country : “steady as she goes“, and “kick the buggers out“. Effectively – and this is a general principle I continue to subscribe to today – Opposition parties don’t win elections; Governments lose them. The history of post-1945 British politics is one of Governments being maintained in power up until the point when they’re either derailed by some sort of economic crisis (eg 1974, 1979, 2010), or when they lose their reputation for basic competence, either in handling the economy, or in terms of the honesty or competence of their members (eg 1964, 1970, 1997). Heath didn’t lose in ’74 because voters thought his Selsdon Man Agenda was too right-wing; he lost because of power-cuts and the 3-day week. Callaghan didn’t lose in ’79 because he was seen as too far left (he was actually moving the Labour Party to the right at the time); he lost because of the Winter of Discontent. Elections are fundamentally judgements on the perceived competence of sitting Governments, not assessments of the relative merits on a left-right scale of Opposition parties. They’re also often very short-term judgments, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to draw a parallel between the Tory “stop-go” economics of the 1950s and Osborne’s last 5 years – a pre-election “go” happily wipes out memories of an early-cycle “stop” for plenty of voters.

There’s only one election which I’d argue is an exception to this general rule, and that was 1983, when Thatcher was going to the polls on the back of an economic meltdown which her Falklands victory had only partially obscured. She lost 700,000 votes in 1983, while the opposition added 500,000, and in any other election she would have been out. The saving grace for her then was the catastrophic split of the anti-Thatcher left into not one but two large parties in the SDP/Lib-Alliance and Labour, which duly split the increased anti-Tory vote almost evenly. The British electoral system (as we’ve just discovered again) does not reward multiple parties trying to occupy similar ground, and Thatcher effectively won that election by default.

Apart from that, the rule holds. Blair and Mandelson made a lot of hay arguing that they won in 1997 because of the changes they made to Labour. I’ve never bought that argument at all. Major’s government was exhausted after 18 years, tearing at its own entrails, and had developed a reputation for incompetence and corruption. John Smith would have won that election without any Blairite changes. Hell, Neil Kinnock would have won that election. https://www.ipsos-mori.com/newsevents/ca/96/10-Myths-About-The-1997-Election.aspx It was a kick-the-buggers-out election, and in my view – and the view of plenty others – the Blairite claim that Labour “won” only because it jettisoned anything remotely approaching “left-wing” policy was always inaccurate, and is the basis for the Blairite arguments which are now being dusted off and rehashed today.

Following this argument, one arrives at a couple of conclusions :

  • On Thursday, the Tories hadn’t done enough wrong to lose the support of those who voted for them last time. I personally don’t think I perceive much of an economic recovery, and I live in one of the most affluent parts of the UK. But clearly enough people in enough seats believed the economy was doing ok that they were willing to vote to retain the current government. You and I might know it’s all built on sand, and we can nod along to Krugman as much as we like, but many voters just don’t think that way. Or, perhaps, even if they accept that analysis of an economy which isn’t working for a large number of people, they just don’t care because it IS working for them. For that third of the voters who are doing fine, there was no reason for them to change horses. Exactly the same happened in ’55, ’59, ’66, ’87, ’92, ’01 and ’05 – an economy with underlying weaknesses for sure, but which on the surface seemed to be delivering increased affluence to sufficient people to return the Government.
  • Arguments about left and right are very interesting for political anoraks like myself, but as most commentators and political organisers know, most voters simply don’t think about politics in that way; I’d be very surprised, for example, if most of the 20,000 UKIP voters in Sunderland were fully supportive of UKIP policies on the NHS, or education, or income tax rates; so to describe that vote as a clear shift to the right would, I think, be a mistake. Those UKIP votes, representing a disenchanted group of largely white working class people who feel hammered by the economy and unrepresented by the main political parties, are probably more amenable to being won over by Labour than the Tories, if Labour can construct a narrative which appeals to them – certainly not easy given the current importance of “identity politics” to the Labour party. This isn’t an outlandish view, and certainly one which Blue Labour-types have explored in depth.

0111554 Wilson

As the only way Labour can get elected is to replicate exactly what was done in previous victories, I suggest all Labour leadership hopefuls learn to smoke a pipe, fast.

So where does this leave us ? Well it seems to me to undermine the Blairite argument that what Labour needs to do is visibly shift to the right in search of those swing voters in marginal Tory-Lab seats. Because fundamentally, those voters are simply not free-floaters approaching each election completely as a clean slate, and comparing the specific policies in Tory and Labour manifestos on a left-right slide-rule. We know, for example, that plenty of Tory voters really liked the plan to end Non-Dom status, and quite a few supported the mansion tax and higher income tax rate proposals. Some pollsters have found a majority of Tory voters in favour of renationalising the railways ! Yet they still voted Tory. Similarly, we know that the bulk of big business is horrified at the prospect of Brexit, yet that didn’t stop them doing everything in their power to get the party elected which is most likely to make that happen. This is why I think it’s a bit illogical for Blair et al to now claim that by adopting a few more Tory policies, more voters will come over. Labour already has a number of policies preferred by Tory voters and funders to the policies of the Tory party itself. They still didn’t come. It wasn’t the Labour Opposition which hadn’t pulled those people, it was the Tory Government which hadn’t pushed them. I suppose one could go the whole hog and adopt the entire Tory manifesto, as Labour Party policy, but then one might – not unreasonably – ask what the point of not simply voting Conservative was in the first place ?

So the same people who voted Tory this time are going to go to the polls next time and vote, not on what they think about the Labour Opposition, but on what they think about the Tory Government. If the economy is still working for them, and the Tories haven’t eaten themselves over Europe, then they’re going to vote Tory again. If the economy has nosedived, or major scandal has risen to the surface, or the party seems chaotic and incompetent (say, pulling itself apart over Europe) then they’re going to vote for someone else – again irrespective of the actual policies Labour put forward. In other words, those votes are not Labour’s to win – they’re the Tories’ to lose. The good news, as Blair found out in ’02 and ’05, is that once they switch to Labour, as long as Labour oversees a perceived effective economy competently, then they’re unlikely to switch back to the Tories.

Why am I so confident about this, when we already have talk about how it was Ed’s personality which lost it, or those communist plans to cap energy prices ? Well, because of the reasons the polls were wrong. Effectively, this election saw the return of the “shy Tory”, or voter who plans to vote Tory but is too ashamed to admit that to a pollster. If the reason why those voters were reluctant to vote Labour was because they thought Miliband looked a bit odd eating bacon, they’d say so – there’s no shame in saying you don’t rate someone – plenty did on all sides. If they weren’t going to vote Labour because they thought they were too left-wing, then again, why would they disguise that perfectly shame-free position which plenty of Blairite Labour members themselves would agree with. No, the only possible reason why people would hide their intentions is because they believe that their choices are not ones which they want to be publicly associated with – essentially, they’re knowingly making a selfish choice which they don’t want to advertise. What this means is that their votes are not up for grabs by Labour, as long as the Tories keep delivering for them. This seems to me to make the whole Blairite argument irrelevant. They can move as far right as they like, they could appoint Mandelson leader, or they could swear fealty to the Great God Mammon Himself in a ceremony in the City, but they won’t win those floating voters unless the Tories lose them first.

Which is why I come back to the idea that the only way forward for Labour now is not some retreat to a Blairite comfort zone in the hope of a rehash of ’97. The fact is that we probably can’t do much about those 11 million voters who voted Tory this time. They’re not up for grabs. Yet. The people who are looking for an excuse to vote Labour next time round are not those the Tories currently have stitched up, but those who are already opposed to a Tory government, but who, for whatever reason, have gathered under a range of different banners : Lab, SNP, PC, Green, and yes, UKIP. If the economy is still delivering for those 11m Tory voters in 2020, then the only way of booting out this government will not be by winning over a handful of Tory voters, because they won’t be willing to be won over, but by mobilising the non-Tory voters behind a Labour Party which speaks for far more of them than it currently does. Now hands up who thinks those people who voted Green, SNP, PC or UKIP (or those many millions who felt so unrepresented that they didn’t even bother to vote) did so because they wanted Labour to be more of a right-wing conservative party ?

Now, I’m off back to bed. Bleurrrgh.

Edit :

https://shaunjlawson.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/the-polls-and-all-but-one-of-the-forecasts-were-wrong-ed-miliband-was-nowhere-near-becoming-prime-minister/

This is an interesting read. A little more conspiracist than I would normally go for, and I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s certainly well-argued, and he argues a similar line to me that the Tories hadn’t done enough to lose the election at least as much as Labour hadn’t done enough to win it. I absolutely agree with this quote :

“That huge bloc of traditional support (the latest chunk of which voted SNP and Ukip last night) must be won back; the sense of alienation they feel must be listened to and engaged with. Their aspirations – as well as those of small business or bigger business – must be met: a much larger, much more coherent coalition of Labour support than is ever generally appreciated is out there, but has been almost entirely neglected for a whole generation.

Further edit :

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/05/06/moving-to-the-center-can-be-costly-for-left-wing-parties/?postshare=8221431199057937

I see my thoughts have already been described as “utterly delusional” by those who take the more right-wing line. I wouldn’t really expect any Blair supporter to agree with me, and I suspect the unpleasant playing of the man not the ball is an indication of the quite serious battle which is already beginning within the Labour Party. But really, chaps, while I disagree with your arguments, I don’t find them “delusional”, and indeed said so in this piece. I just disagree with them. More to the point, screaming “delusional” at anyone who disagrees with you, as if they’re somehow so far outside mainstream opinion that the author must be mad, requires people not to be aware of such articles as the link above. You need to keep it civil. Otherwise you do nothing to counter the belief that some Blairites seem an awful lot more comfortable joining the Tories to attack people to their left, than they do joining the people on their left to attack the Tories.

Further edit :

http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/LORD-ASHCROFT-POLLS-Post-vote-poll-summary1.pdf

This link is quite interesting. Bearing in mind my first edit, take this with a pinch of salt, as it’s Ashcroft’s. However, on the face of it, what this seems to show includes :

  • Miliband attracted slightly more 2010 Tory voters to Labour than made the return journey, which certainly seems to give the lie to the “left-wing policies frightened floating voters” narrative a whole host of Blairite leadership hopefuls are currently treating us to.
  • He also seems to have attracted a remarkable number of 2010 LibDem voters. Given these voters deserted the LibDems because they felt the party became too similar to the Tories, there are questions to be asked there about why Blairites think those voters will stay put if a New-New Labour follows the same Cleggite trajectory.
  • Labour lost a lot of 2010 voters to the Greens and SNP (fair to describe both as adopting positions to the left of Labour), and a good number to UKIP (see points above about not assuming these are right-wing voters). One could argue that the shift to UKIP and Greens in England is very analogous to the shift to the SNP in Scotland – previous Labour voters feeling their party no longer represents them and thus choosing a less small “c” conservative option.

Now a Blairite would undoubtedly respond that if the Labour Party went chasing after those lost voters, it would automatically lose voters on its right-wing to the Tories. Well, maybe, but the evidence of this suggests that even after what the Blairites seem convinced was a shift leftwards matched in scale only by the Bolshevik Revolution, Labour actually made a net gain from the Tories. Moreover, I suppose I would say to the Blairites that there’s rather more evidence that if they go chasing after more current Conservative voters, they’ll lose far more existing Labour voters to other parties. And even then, unless that economic or political crisis arrives before 2020, those Tory target voters will still back the horse which is already delivering for them.

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22 thoughts on “That wasn’t an election result, it was a 5-year prison sentence

  1. Interesting post. Your suggestion that the Tories have the pupil premium in their sights is profoundly depressing. At my children’s primary school, the disadvantaged pupils have made remarkable progress as a result of targeted interventions funded by PP. In fact, many of them are now doing better than their peers. The prospect of a Tory cut (in real terms) to education funding is bad enough, but what a nasty, elitist, short-sighted policy it would be to single out the pupil premium.

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    • I wouldn’t give up hope yet, Betty. There are a lot of paranoid rumours swirling around. Yesterday several people told me in all sincerity that they thought Cameron was about to re-appoint Gove to education!

      But even without the PP issue, school funding is in a terrible place right now. The unfunded increase in school pension liabilities, the sixth-form funding cuts and stationary total budget as student numbers rise, are all contributing towards what will be a pretty awful situation very rapidly.

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  2. Personally speaking, for me, Labour were nothing more than Tories in disguise. I’m sure many of those who would usually vote Labour but didn’t, thought so too.

    But fact is, if you should take a serious look at policy, then the Greens have some great ones. The problem is, apart from David Malone who authors the excellent http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/ blog, they don’t have the personalities.

    If the Greens had a Nicola Sturgeon or even a Leanne Wood, I believe they would do a whole lot better.

    Yvette Cooper CANNOT be the next leader – anyone who has stolen from the public (by flipping their house) – (I don’t care it was within the rules) doesn’t have the moral compass to be a leader.

    But then I don’t believe the Labour party can (or wants) to change significantly enough to win the next election.

    What I would like to see is some collaboration between SNP, Greens, UKIP, Plaid Cymru and even the Liberal Democrats if they reverse their decision on tuition fees (because charging a child for and education is simply abhorrent) – then we might actually get somewhere.

    Don’t think this will happen either…..time to leave the sinking ship.

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    • What makes you think the Labour party changing to be eg more like the Greens would win an election? All the evidence is against it. Middle ground and credible personality wins elections as Tony Blair showed. Labour were unelectable in the early 80s, I mean Michael Foot as leader? Then Ed Milliband? You might not like Blair but the facts speak for themselves. What I find surprising is how many people moan about all the doom and gloom but then when the incumbent government says to teachers jump, instead or refusing and doing something better they just say “how high” and then wring their hands about the evil Minister. The fact is there is not enough professional consensus to direct an organised professional rebellion. It doesn’t require strikes, it requires professional action. For example, taking the initiative and implementing a proper national baccalaureate. It could easily be done around A levels, Tech Levels, Applied general, Tech Awards and GCSEs. We already have the on-line systems to do it at minimal cost but the profession is so dependent on the DfE now it simply can’t get its act together well enough to initiate a change that would have more beneficial impact than anything any government has done in the last 30 years. So I think talking of prison sentences is total exaggeration. For me any mainstream elected government beats prison so let’s quit the hyperbole and transfer the energy to changing things, not worrying about party politics.

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      • I agree that perceived leadership plays a much more important role than we might like it to do. Clearly Miliband simply did not persuade enough potential Labour voters to bother to come out. It’s a shame for him, but probably indisputable. I’m not sure David Miliband would have done much better though. However, one can still overstate the leadership angle. Wilson won in ’64, ’66 and ’74, but lost in ’70. He didn’t briefly become a different bloke in one election. Likewise, John Major recorded the Tories’ highest ever vote of modern times, but you’d have to go a long way before you found many people who’d rank him as one of the best political leaders of the 20th Century.

        I think also there’s some history re-writing about Blair. Ultimately, he was pushed out/the party allowed him to go, because he had become toxic after the Iraq War. It’s arguable the Labour Party won in 2005 despite him, rather than because of him. Which brings me back to my central thesis : Governments lose elections, Oppositions don’t win them.

        Our best chance of getting rid of the Tories next time is thus either an economic collapse (which is hardly good for anyone), or a Tory Party collapse (which I think is actually quite likely over Europe). But in the meantime, the Labour Party should be doing all it can to try and win over those non-Tory voters, in all their different guises, who were not persuaded to vote Labour last week. And having a charismatic leader who can eat a bacon butty is, sadly, probably a necessity.

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        • All leaders from Churchill through to Thatcher and Blair have a shelf-life and are subject to contextual factors, Thatcher and Blair are two of the most long-serving PMs so they had something that Foot, Kinnock and Milliband did not, context is part of it but on its own its not going to work. I think economic collapse is highly unlikely. If you look at global cycles, it was never realistic to get the economy massively growing in 5 years after a severe low whichever party was in power. However I predict that if they last 5 years, the economy will be in a significantly healthier shape not necessarily because of any spectacular action, but because you only have to extrapolate the “boom and bust graphs”. Europe is more likely the issue of destruction, however I’d expect Cameron to leave the referendum to the last minute so that on it’s own is less likely to shorten the term. Best hope for a lot more Labour MPs is to re-take Scotland from the SNP. Difficult as Nicola Sturgeon again shows the power of personality.

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  3. Hi Jon

    I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. While Miliband’s platform certainly wasn’t as radical as I’d have liked, I thought there was a genuine difference between his offer and the Tories’ offer. I voted Labour (well, I voted Green in my safe Labour seat because I swapped my vote with a Green supporter in a Lab/Con marginal) not because I thought they were everything I’d want – although I liked some of it – but because they were a hell of a lot better than the only real alternative- the Tories. I think we now have 5 years to discover just how correct that assessment is.

    Bottom line is that however much we’d like to be able to give full expression to our views – the Greens were almost certainly closer on most issues to my views than Labour – the fact is that the FPTP electoral system absolutely canes any kind of division on the same side of the political spectrum, unless that’s effectively a geographically-based one like the SNP. The Tories benefit enormously from effectively having complete ownership of a broad swathe of the right, while Labour suffers from seeing the left divided between several different parties. For much of the last 5 years, UKIP have been seen as a right-wing party threatening the Tories, but while UKIP policies are certainly right-wing, I’m not sure how many of their voters would consider themselves to be right-wing on issues such as the economy or public services. Nigel Farage on election night made a particularly pissed-off sounding comment when he attacked the Mail and the Sun for claiming that UKIP was splitting the Tory vote. I suspect UKIP did more damage on the night to Labour.

    I haven’t got the numbers, and I’m too ill to even try to find them right now, but I wonder how many seats the Tories took where a combined or separate Green/UKIP vote was greater than the difference between Labour and the Tories. And that’s before throwing in the few hundred votes of the TUSC and suchlike. The Greens ran under their slogan of “Vote for what you believe in”. I think that’s admirable, but only applies in a proportional system. Under our system, we may as well add “…and get what you most hate” to the end of that slogan.

    I agree, by the way, about the importance of leadership. While I stick to my argument that a shift to the right under a different leader wouldn’t have necessarily won over any more existing Tory voters for Labour, I do think that part of gathering those non-Tory voters who don’t currently vote Labour is offering them someone they can identify with to vote for. I liked Ed Miliband a lot. I think he’s a thoroughly decent guy and would have made a great Prime Minister. But he was a charisma-free zone, and he clearly had insufficient appeal to persuade the less committed non-Tories to vote for his party. The next leader needs to be someone who can connect with those who have drifted away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s where I go wrong – I want full expression of my views…..probably because I think I am right.

      It’s an odd thing to consider yourself right, while knowing you can never be right about everything…..but I don’t want the TTIP yet I don’t see anything wrong in an Aussie style immigration system.

      I certainly don’t want fracking and nuclear energy systems, esp when Germany are leading the way on green self-sufficient energy homes – EDF have left the country and they will be 35% green in the next few years.

      I do want electoral reform and reform of our monetary system – and I can’t believe there wasn’t a debate about bailing out the banks…..as if it was the only option??!!

      Regardless of that, it was such a large transfer of money, the people really should have had the opportunity to have their say.

      I can’t seem to get all I want, yet I’m damn sure what I want would be the best for everyone……apart from those who want it all.

      I don’t even like politics because I don’t like anything that separates people – religion is my pet hate although I don’t really hate anything or anyone.

      I was never sure about Ed, but then, I have never been sure about millionaire, LSE politicians.

      For what it’s worth, I’ll be 53 by the time we get the chance to get the Tories out…..but I’ll probably have to work until I’m 85 by then!

      Thanks for the reply…I do agree with you, kind of…..which must mean I disagree with myself somewhere along the line.

      I’ll see if I can figure it out….

      Get well.

      J

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    • While I agree that a good proportion of the UKIP vote is basically racist – certainly you don’t have to think hard before working out where the 2010 BNP vote went to – I don’t actually see UKIP’s voters as fundamentally motivated by xenophobia.

      All the analyses of voter characteristics suggests that UKIP voters are on average less well-educated than those of other parties, live in more deprived areas, and generally feel marginalised. These people are people who have not been served well by the post-industrial UK which Thatcher constructed and in which Blair papered over the cracks. UKIP come along like so many nationalist parties historically, and offer simple solutions to their ills, telling them that someone else (the foreigner) is to blame. This isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last, that an electoral demographic like this has been prayed upon by ugly nationalistic forces who aren’t actually interested in working for their voters’ genuine interests.

      I see the bulk of the UKIP vote – especially in those traditional Labour heartlands, as basically a cry of rage at their own marginalisation by people who are not thriving in our cock-eyed economy, much more than it’s some sort of conscious shift to a package of extreme-right policies ranging from privatisation of the NHS to reintroducing grammar schools. The UKIP vote is, to me, why the Blairite argument is so badly misjudged. These are people who are victims of the Thatcherite settlement, and desperate for change, but who already don’t see Labour as offering anything different to that offered by the Tories. I can’t for the life of me see how explicitly shifting to the right to appear closer to the Tories is in any way going to bring those people back in from the cold.

      When Blair launched his project, his assumption was that there was nowhere else those people could go to. New Labour could move as far to the right as it liked, because those who disagree with, or were not served by Thatcherism had no alternative. The problem is that they do : they can either stop voting altogether, or they can go and vote for other parties, whether that be pre-2010 LibDems or the Greens and UKIP of today. Any solution which doesn’t aim to regain support from those groups is doomed to continued failure in my view, and yet the traditional Blairite mantras “wealth-creators, aspiration, non-statist” etc seem to me to be utterly irrelevant to those groups.

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      • I was specifically referring to traditional Labour voters voting UKIP, not UKIP’s vote in general. Neither did I say racist. Xenophobia and racism often overlap, but are distinct phenomena. Whereas racism usually entails distinction based on physical characteristic differences, such as skin colour, hair type, facial features, etc, xenophobia implies behaviour based on the idea that the other is foreign to or originates from outside the community or nation. (UNESCO). The point I was making was that these people are not in tune with general Labour philosophy as devised and presented by middle class professional politicians. I think this is a big problem for Labour. It would seem very unlikely that a niche party pedalling left wing niche policies would attract many if any Tory voters in the same way as UKIP has taken Labour voters.

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  4. I’m not even sure how Labour would go about regaining both its Green Defectors and its UKIP Defectors. To appeal to the UKIP defectors they’d have to convince them that the pledge on Immigration is a true one whereas many of the Green defectors left because they like the Green’s pro-immigration stance. (And not all Greens are natural Labour voters. I voted Green this election and I’m not a former Labourite. There’s no way I’d ever vote for Labour. I don’t trust them to do what they say.)

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    • While I accept that some people do decide on a single issue, I think many/most of us have a range of beliefs of different priority, and all the main political parties to a certain extent involve people with very different priority lists. For example, I’d be delighted to scrap Trident, but I voted for a party committed to keeping it because my other priorities were higher. There’ll never be a “Disappointed Idealist Party” which only adopts my views, and I’m comfortable with that.

      On the immigration point though, I guess the question about UKIP voters is : to what extent do they vote UKIP because they just don’t like immigrants, or to what extent do they vote UKIP because they hold immigrants responsible for low wages, few job opportunities, decreased affordable housing for their children? A Party with policies which address that fundamental economic insecurity may well draw that particular thorn. Of course, having those policies and having them heard and understood are two different things!

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  5. Enjoyed reading this, food for thought.
    Anecdote – On the morning after the election my T.A. came in and commented that she had voted Labour but hadn’t been happy about the vote as she just couldn’t visualise Ed Miliband as having the ability/strengths to be Prime Minister. Now if a life long Labour voter thought that how many undecideds were swayed by thoughts like that? Cult of personality plays a part…
    I work in special ed. Horrified at how the next five years will be for the kids in our school who need the support services accessed through the nhs. Occupational therapy, physio, mental health, behavioural support ertc will all be hit.

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  6. Share your feelings about the result. I am still wrestling with the statistics of voting : 63% of the electorate voted against the Conservatives, yet they have been given more than half the seats in Parliament ie 51%.
    Time to push for electoral reform – P.R.

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