It is really difficult to be right-wing in America. And by that I do not mean it is tricky for right-wing people to get on in the US; what I mean is, there is such a high bar to being considered truly right-wing in the States that is difficult to be right-wing enough to clear it. Believe in any health care arrangement that is to the left of what the Americans currently have, i.e. any other health care set up in the entire western world? You’re a leftie. Think perhaps arming primary school teachers isn’t the best way to tackle America’s crime problem? You’re a leftie.
It is a bit like that in Britain now – in reverse. It is increasingly difficult to be considered on the left any longer if you don’t believe the government over the last ten years has systematically been murdering poor people, or that Boris Johnson is creating a totalitarian state, or that nationalisation is the answer to a lot of the problems the country faces. If you even doubt any of these tenets, then you are on the right. Doesn’t matter if you are anti-Brexit, pro-state spending on infrastructure, liberal on law and order issues, or even if you are openly not fond of the current Tory government – you are on the right if you don’t want full-fat socialism in Britain these days.
This is perhaps the unspoken problem for Labour as they (theoretically, at least) seek to rebuild. If you go around telling everyone to the left of a small clique of Labour members that they are right-wing, perhaps a good number of them will eventually believe you. This is really why I think it will take so long for Labour to become electable again – they need to get back to being on most of their available electorate’s wavelength, which they are nowhere near at present.
Comparing the problem I led with about it being hard to be right-wing in America unless you’re really, really right-wing – this doesn’t stop the Republicans winning elections because although in theory it is difficult to be actually right-wing enough in America to be on the right, the right itself doesn’t discriminate against you if you want to consider yourself on the right, or at the very least vote Republican. Despite being very right-wing they do not ask you to pass some purity test if all you want to do is consider yourself a Republican voter. In Britain, the left actively wants you to join the Tories if you fail the left purity test, which the vast majority of people in the country would.
I don’t know what the solution to this is. Other than, I suppose, Labour losing the next two elections and then getting desperate enough to compromise just enough to allow people they don’t consider pure enough to vote for them. But I’m still not sure, when they reach this fork in the road in 2028 or thereabouts, that the left will take it.