The UK government is an absolute shambles. It is rife with personal divisions. It has absolutely no plan on Brexit, the Single Market, the NHS and social care. It’s divided on education policy, pensions policy, the Human Rights Act, immigration and investment.
For all her popularity, the Prime Minister and her Government is weak. The official Opposition should be storming ahead. Every poll should strike fear into the hearts of Tory MPS. Yet the Conservatives lead by double digits in every poll. Theresa May’s approval rating sits at +18, whilst Jeremy Corbyn languishes at -20 and with groups more likely to vote this divide only widens.
I can not think of a post-war government that has been more undeserving of its electoral strength and arrogance. Nor can I think of a time when a strong Labour party was more needed.
‘Not since Gordon Brown’s response to the global economic crisis in 2008 has the UK had the strategic leadership it needs, and not since Clement Attlee reconstructed Britain after the Second World War has the country had such a need for leadership.’ Dan Jarvis, today.
But at 2AM this morning that arrogant smile temporarily turned to a grimace, when Sarah Olney overturned Zac Goldsmith’s 23,000 majority in what was effectively Richmond Park’s second go at the EU referendum.
Unfortunately, Britain is not Richmond Park multiply 650. This was a heavily Remain constituency voting an a by-election, in a marginally Leave country. We cannot draw many conclusions.
One thing that we can draw is this: Labour was completely irrelevant. And unfortunately that is an observation that we can see in the national picture.
Labour has put itself into a position with the worst of all worlds. We have convinced Leavers that we are for Remain, and Remainers that we are for Leave – in reality having no clue where we stand.
On the defining issue of our time was have no position to sell and no demographic to attract, only every demographic to dissuade.
At the next general election there will be few safe Labour seats. In Northern and Midland Leave seats, particularly, we have alienated many working class supporters on immigration, identity and welfare spending who will not hesitate to make Nuttal’s UKIP their home. In Midland and Southern Remain seats we have alienated voters who will not hesitate in voting for the Lib Dems who are ‘winning here’.
Labour is broken. We have no coherent message and almost no policy platform. If we ask the public what they think we stand for, we will not get back one resounding message, but will certainly get back many negative ones.
The idea that our membership can save us from disaster, never mind win an election, is ridiculous. In a constituency claiming over 1600 Labour members, we polled only 1515 – losing us our deposit in the constituency for the first time in history.
Focusing on our 35% ‘core vote’ wasn’t enough to win an election last year, focusing on our membership, less than 2% of voters, certainly won’t.
For now Labour is choosing to decline in the polls. IT fears making a decision on Brexit, as it may alienate half of the country – leavers or remainers. In reality our ambivalence is alienating both.
Whatever Labour’s eventual policy positions, rebuilding the Party must begin with Clause I – ‘Its purpose is to organise and maintain in Parliament and in the country a political Labour Party’. For if our driving purpose is not outward looking to the public, with working people our motive, we will see many more results where a wonderful stat on membership sits beside a dreadful result with the public.