The Labour party is already dead.
Let the the two party system die with them
I’m not shy of making bold claims, as such, I repeat, the Labour party is dead; dead as a party of government, and dead as an electoral force. There will be no #SavingLabour, and there will be no Owen Smith sweep to victory; the Labour party is spent.
Before you say it, no Jeremy Corbyn is not to blame. The truth is, Labour’s decline far predates his, admittedly disastrous, leadership. Labour have been in terminal decline since 2005; do you know why? I’ll tell you why. The Labour party is in terminal decline because nobody knows who they are, or what they stand for. The swerve to the centre won short-term power, but alongside rampant nationalism, it can also be seen as a key reason why Labour lost Scotland. The move back to the left and the in-fighting it has caused has just served to prove Labour has no identity.
People who go to the polls now, do not know what a vote for Labour even means. Is it a vote for Trident, or a vote against it? Is it a vote for military intervention, or a vote against it? Is it a vote for the protection of civil liberties and human rights, or a vote for their abandonment? you get the picture, no?
Now before you jump down my throat telling me that the Labour manifesto is very clear on these issues, I know. The public, however, does not. In case you weren’t aware, most voters do not read party manifestos in full. Many simply vote the same way they have always voted; this is one of the two reasons that Labour is able to enjoy a sort of living death; electoral success with no prospect of any progress.
The second reason Labour are able to sustain their position, despite their expired state, is that they are the ‘other party’. In the UK we have a two-party system; this is emphatically ensured by our first past the post voting system. The two party system allows Labour to, arrogantly, claim that anyone who does not want a Tory government must vote for them. Labour’s own belief in this entitlement was clearly in evidence in the aftermath of the 2015 general election when many Labour supporters sought to deflect from their own parties failures, by blaming the Green Party for ‘splitting the vote’.
The simple fact is the current system coerces voters, it forces them to vote with a mind on who can actually win the seat. This means, in pragmatic terms, that in most cases the voter has a choice between the conservative party (the government candidate) or the Labour party (the other candidate). It really is as simple as that. The nature of the voting system ensures that both of the two main parties will always maintain a reasonable proportion of the vote; this is the sole reason that modern Labour is not facing a Lib Dem style wipe-out.
So what’s to be done? Well, Labour’s best hope of remaining relevant and potentially even defying the odds to return to government lies with forming a progressive alliance. Sadly, it seems that Mr Corbyn is unwilling to sign up for this. Unbelievably, it seems he remains deluded enough to think that a Labour majority at the next election is within the realms of possibility. A progressive alliance would solve the problem of vote splitting. Accounting for the fact that, with the economic prospect of Brexit looming over the hill, the conservatives may, in fact, find themselves as a very unpopular government by the time of the next election; a progressive coalition could just, and this is extremely unlikely, be a possibility.
That all sounds awfully rosy, strange then that Labour won’t play ball. There is, of course, one key reason that Labour won’t go along with a progressive alliance; a red-line for the smaller parties would always fall on the subject of PR. In truth, Labour are far too cowardly to face the implications of PR, in the long-term it would see Labour fall from relevance entirely. No doubt, tribalism and entitlement also play their part; nevertheless, my accusation to Labour supporters and indeed to the leadership is this, you are too cowardly to face an election where all parties stand on an equal footing.
So, if Labour won’t play along, what do we do? simple, we kill them. Like the cat Labour have 9 times to die, currently, they are 9/10 through that final life; if they won’t cooperate, then the duty of those who want electoral change is to give them a final kick over the edge. As I’ve said, Labour is already dead; we just need to make them see that. Small aims like ‘maximizing the number of progressive mp’s’ or ‘minimizing the Tory majority’ are inadequate. We must make Labour see that they will never again be able to form a majority government, or we must make the public see that we are sleepwalking into a one-party state, an elected dictatorship.
Perversely, if Labour won’t play along, then the best thing that can happen is an outrageous Conservative majority delivered on an outrageously unrepresentative vote. This, and only this, will move the public and more pressingly the Labour party to an acceptance of the need for electoral change.
Let’s let Labour’s death be the sounding gun, the two-party system must go.