I’m not sure Labour can ever win another General Election, certainly under Corbyn and possibly anyone else.
The industrial and trade union base went long ago. Their traditional working class support is flirting with UKIP or if they are old, voting Tory. Scotland has fallen to the SNP and if the Scots want an alternative, the Tory Ruth Davidson is a better bet than Kezia Dugdale, the latest unknown to lead the Labour Party in Scotland.
Then there are the vicious Tories. Not content with smashing the Lib Dems, they are now targeting Labour with a string of legislative measures that will weaken them like individual voter registration, the reduction in parliamentary seats and the requirement for trade unionists to opt in to paying the political levy.
Then we come to the director of the polling organisation Britain Thinks. I heard Deborah Mattinson speaking at a Labour conference in London last weekend. Delegates had just heard party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking. He was calm, unspun and true as ever to his socialist principles. He gave unilateralism a rest, instead coming up with the idea that companies should be prevented from paying dividends to their shareholders if they didn’t pay the living wage.
He was given a good round of applause and then the delegates spent the rest of the day looking at the mountain, nay the north face of the Eiger, that they would have to climb to win power again. They will need to win an additional 106 seats and 40% of the total vote to win in 2020. Last year they needed a swing of 5% in the marginal seats, next time it will be 10 %.
Now here’s the killer for Labour. In 2015 they could rely on large numbers of Liberal Democrats coming across. Next time 4 out of the 5 new voters Labour will need will have to be people who voted Conservative last time. How likely are Tory voters in Milton Keynes, Nuneaton, Bolton West and Morley to vote for Jeremy Corbyn?
Next the age problem. Older people vote and are increasingly voting Tory whereas the young who are more left leaning are far less inclined to go to the polling station.
Now I want to turn to a man with a low profile but who had a big job in last year’s election, Tom Baldwin. He was Ed Miliband’s senior adviser. He spoke some home truths to the activists, like don’t trash your record and expect to win. He was referring to the way the record of three time election winner Tony Blair has been heavily criticised by Labour activists keen to distance themselves from “New Labour”. Baldwin says that was why the Tories were able to blame the last Labour government for messing up the economy when in fact it was the victim of a global crash.
It gives me no satisfaction at all to write this. I want a vibrant democracy with two or three parties vying for power under a fair election system. But if we are not to face the prospect of the Tories in power for twenty years, what is to be done? Labour MPs who believe in “heart and head” social democracy need to sink their differences with Liberal Democrats and moderate Greens. Then they need to form a new party to represent the centre left where the British people have been in 1945, 1964, 1974 and for thirteen years from 1997.