Fears that Labour could slump to fewer than 150 seats at the next election are a “very serious warning” for the party, one shadow minister has said, after a Fabian Society report said it could get less than 20% of the vote. But it seems that is of no great concern to many in the PLP.
John Healey, a minister in Tony Blair’s government, said he agreed with the Unite union general secretary, Len McCluskey, that the party’s standing in the opinion polls was “awful” but said the answer was not building alliances with other progressive parties, such as the Liberal Democrats or the Greens. Labour will find it near to impossible to take back seats from the SNP so therefore have a 50 plus seat loss in Scotland.
“It’s a serious warning, it’s a very serious warning,” Healey told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “Quite rightly, the Fabian Society say the roots of Labour’s problems pre-date Jeremy Corbyn. They were there in the 2015 election and in the 2010 election.
“These are big challenges for Labour. But I do not see the answer to Labour’s challenge being to team up with the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and a ragtag of other parties.”
So what do you suggest Mr Healey? This is his answer as printed in much of the press.
“The challenge for me now, and all of the shadow cabinet and Jeremy Corbyn as leader, is to demonstrate we can be a strong opposition and a convincing alternative to the Tories and that we can win over and win back public opinion, particularly voters we’ve lost in recent years.”
He said further internal division would not help the party’s cause with voters. “Our task now is to turn attention outwards, stop arguing amongst ourselves and win trust back, bring people back to Labour,” he said.
OK stopping the constant in-fighting would be a good start but with so many in the PLP staunch Blairites aided and abetted by Blair himself and the likes of Mandelson the chances of ithappening seem pretty remote. Add to that the Tory gerrymandering of the electoral system (individual registering, boundary changes), the 95% right-wing foreign owned press, the biased BBC and the way the socialist vote is split across so many parties as apposed to the ‘loyal’ Tory voters, it seems the Labour Party’s attitude of ‘going it alone’ is dooming the country to a 2020 Tory victory. A Tory government voted in by a minority of perhaps 35%+ of the electorate through our now failed FPTP system. So we will endure another five years of a right-wing uncaring totalitarian government that up to 65% of the electorate did not vote for. But that will not be too bad for people like Mr Healey with his salary plus perks, his very good MPs pension and probable ‘investments’ and other income. For most politicians it’s just a game. Win or lose there’s still plenty of cash in the trough. It’s the poor, the disabled, the have not’s, the working people that pay the price.
So I would say let’s have a proper and democratic system. That is the only truly twenty-first century answer. FPTP only really works if there are two competing entities. One needs more than 50% to win. A system where there are so many entities (parties) will always mean the majority will be denied democracy with a minority being declared the winners and seizing control. In fact calling it FPTP is nonsense as the winning party never actually reach the post. But let’s be realistic, a system based on PR will never be introduced whilst one of the two big parties have a chance of getting power.
OK so we cannot have a proper democracy in the UK. The Labour vote has never been more fragmented which means the Tories are in a position to take elections under our undemocratic FPTP system for at least another election, probably two unless we embrace an alternative.
Therefore I would argue that Mr Healey and his like sitting in the House of Commons think again. We should have a progressive alliance of the parties on the left and so called centre-left. If they truly believe in democracy then let’s take the first step to ensuring that in 2020 the majority of those voting are represented by the government of the day.