I promise this article won’t be the kind of thing you could read in a right of centre publication that goes something like this: all these liberals being liberal are just so silly. Can’t they see that they have to lie down and accept that the voters are right-wing? This, to be clear again, is not what I am about to say.
Yet the Left also needs to stop imagining ways to victory that are extremely unlikely to work and in fact, have been proven a few times already not to lead to success. The first classic of this type is the “younger voters” strategy. Forget about anyone over 45 – a Labour majority will be built on mobilising younger voters alone! Except that this doesn’t work for several reasons. One is First Past the Post; younger voters tend to be clustered in a few places, like university towns, London and other large cities. Of course, there are younger people everywhere in the country, but in a lot of it there aren’t enough of them to win seats if every middle-aged and older voters goes another way. Also, the younger you are, the less likely you are to vote. Many left of centre pundits have predicted the end of this trend over the years and yet it it is always proven to still be in force when another general election comes and goes.
The next myth is the “non-voters” nugget. This is a real favourite of the far-left – if everyone who never votes comes out and votes Labour, we’ll win a landslide! All we have to do is be extra-radical and this will work! Except, it never does. The one time a “get the non-voters out” tactic worked for anyone at all was the 2016 EU referendum, when Vote Leave used it very effectively. There is no proof at all that a radical far-left agenda will get these voters out to vote Labour. In fact, there is plenty to suggest that this strategy does not work at all for any centre-left party.
Finally, there is the “let’s just concentrate on our new heartlands, the cities of England, and don’t sweat the loss of the red wall seats”. Again, you have the First Past the Post problem – you aren’t going to win enough seats to get a majority under this strategy, even if it works as effectively as it possibly can. If Labour want to do this, they have to become way more liberal than they are now, which I don’t see any energy for. We have a situation in which the Lib Dems have the perfect mindset to take all of these seats but their target electorate don’t like them because of tuition fees and the coalition with the Tories; Labour have the brand for this bunch but don’t really understand them. It is a real tragedy for the left and centre-left in Britain.
Why not come up with a competent, left of centre pitch to the public that doesn’t alienate large portions of the electorate for a change? I mean, as opposed to wishing the electorate were something different and then making strategy based on this non-existent mass of people? I don’t know, it might just work – and it’s worth a try given the other stuff doesn’t work in the slightest.
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