Throughout the prolonged and ultimately ugly Labour leadership contest, a line in the sand was crossed that will be difficult to roll back from again. Those on the left of the party went beyond using the word “Blairite” in a pejorative sense for those on the right they disagreed with and began using the “T” word about their own internal candidates. Liz Kendall even had a mock website of her done up by someone as if she were literally running as a Tory, with the Conservative logo and a blue rosette.
Yesterday I wrote about political parties and said that some of the people on the right of Labour I’d been speaking to of late wouldn’t defect to the Lib Dems if they were going to leave, but rather the Conservatives (and again, in a rather joking manner as you will see from the article in question). I got some predictable social media feedback along the lines of “All the Blairites should move over to the Tories asap, good riddance.” I’m here today to ask the Left to think about the consequences should this supposedly desired exodus of their own party’s Right take place.
For what would occur should key activists on the right of Labour join the Tories? What if encouraged by that, some MPs start defecting over? After all, if the Right feels like it’s being purged anyhow, why not? If this starts to happen, what will follow is corporate interest and money flowing out of the Labour Party and even more into the hands of the Conservative Party. Many on the Left may see this as a good thing. But now that the Tories are making it more and more difficult by law for trade union money to go to Labour, just how is the party supposed to fund itself? Even if the party had a million members (which it won’t) that’s still nowhere near enough money, particularly if Corbyn follows through on his promise to make membership ever more inexpensive. Having a million members sounds great – only, if they are each giving you a pound a year, it’s not a great money making exercise. And political parties need money to fight elections, to print leaflets – to even simply exist at all.
Furthermore, if an Ornage Book liberal and a Blairite Labour member can joke about seeing the Tories as a desirable option in the midst of Lib Dem conference, imagine what millions of voters are thinking.
“So, if I believe we should keep our nuclear weapons in an age of Putin, think having a sensible economic policy is rather important, and also that if people are able to work they should be encouraged to do so, I’m a Tory? Thanks – I wasn’t sure who to vote for, but now it’s been made clear to me. Conservatives it is then.”
This seems to be where we are headed. The Left and Right in perfect agreement on why people should vote for which party, the likely result being a terrifyingly large Conservative majority after the next general election.