The Fabian Society has released a report entitled “How Labour is too weak to win, and too strong to die” which outlines in gruesome detail the situation the Labour Party currently finds itself in (it is well worth reading the whole report, which can be found here). The title summarises the paper perfectly – that Labour can’t possibly win the next general election from its current position, yet it is too big to allow another party to take over its place in the two-party system. It says that given Labour’s position in the polls, the party could slip to below 150 seats at the next election, whenever it should come.
The report’s prognosis is correct in terms of Labour’s electoral prospects; if anything, it is slightly too optimistic. I see their point about it not being possible for Labour to fall below 140-odd seats due to First Past the Post and all that. However, they would have said the same thing about seats in Scotland before the 2015 tsunami, and the situation in England with Brexit is eerily reminiscent. Sure, UKIP is no SNP in terms of organisation or structure, but that still does not mean that Labour couldn’t still be destroyed in the north of England – by the Tories, for instance, although this seems unthinkable still in leftist circles.
What the report is wrong about is that the answer to Labour’s problems is to make electoral pacts with other parties. Major Labour figures have come in to back up my view on this.
“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,” says John Healey.
The reason for this is simple: once Labour goes down this road, they may as well just break up as a party. Labour’s strength has always been its religiosity; for the way its members and activists see it as a holy vessel through which to create a better world. Once you start admitting that other faiths might have an equal claim to the truth, you by definition give up your own monopoly on the same. Therefore, an essential part of Labour would be destroyed forever.
What neither John Healey nor the Fabians are ready to admit is that the game may be up for Labour anyhow. But without question, getting into electoral pacts with other parties will only hasten the end, not avert it. Labour’s only hope is that the loss at the next election is only as bad as the Fabians think it will be and then Corbyn steps down immediately afterwards. As I’ve spoken about previously, I’m not so sure either of those things will end up being the case.
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