Thursday, 21 July 2016

Labour do not need to pull in voters from the right

What is it with this assumption that Labour needs to convert Tory and UKIP voters? It's an idea peddled by pundits on tv, newspaper columnists and seemingly a lot of the public too but it's totally wrong.

In the last general election and in the one before, there were more eligible voters who didn't vote for anybody than there were votes for the Conservatives.

Graphic courtesy of

The assumption of course, is that non-voters will always be non-voters. But a popular topic over the last few years has been voter apathy, disengagement and disenfranchisement and many people say they would vote if only someone represented them. So that suggests that at least some non-voters could be convinced to turn out and from looking at the figures above, Labour only needs 12% of non-voters to vote for them to wipe out the Tories' advantage entirely.

And while we're dealing with assumptions, I think we can say that some people who formerly voted Labour and now vote Green could be convinced to vote for a more socialist Labour party. And what about UKIP voters? Much talk of voter disenfranchisement has focused on UKIP's ability to capitalise on those who feel left behind by the main parties. Corbyn's Labour could win some of them back too, albeit probably only a small number.

And what about young people? Contrary to false initial stats, the EU referendum got a large section of young people out to vote and the decision to leave the EU will have motivated many to become more engaged with politics. And they are much more likely to vote Labour - especially under Corbyn - than the Tories.

So using assumption-based 'analysis', which is after all what political pundits and columnists do when talking about perceived electability, it's not hard to argue that a turn-around in favour of a Corbyn-led Labour, though difficult, is certainly achievable.

If only the PLP would get behind their leader.

Regardless of the internal Labour mess, the idea that Labour has to try to win over Tory voters is absurd. These voters seem to think that the following policies and failures are ok:

  • Cuts to disability benefits 
  • The bedroom tax 
  • Hounding sick people into work (there are countless cases of people dying just after being declared fit for work) 
  • Big cuts to council budgets (predominantly in poorer areas) 
  • Hidden cuts to the NHS
  • Public money being spent on driving vans around areas with high immigrant populations with the words "GO HOME" in big letters
  • The snoopers charter
  • Reducing the power of trade unions by insisting they need 50% of members to vote for strike action (this coming from a government with 24% of the vote)
  • A doubling of the national debt 
  • Loss of the UK's AAA rating
  • Huge rise in food banks
  • Huge rise in homelessness

It's safe to assume people who vote for these policies will not vote Labour unless Labour themselves introduce similar policies. Perhaps that's what the Labour plotters have in mind.

Since the Tories were last voted into power, the party has reneged on promises over tax credits, ignored all expert advice and forced an unfair contract on junior doctors, performed several policy u-turns, fallen out over the EU and had an almost complete change in personnel. Next time, Tory voters will be expected to vote for a government including the following:

  • A Foreign Secretary who lied to the entire British public in the run up to the EU referendum, stepped out of the race to be PM seemingly on realising he would have to clear up his own mess, and has insulted most of the planet in his newspaper columns over the years. Oh, and he was also previously sacked from the Tory shadow cabinet by Michael Howard for lying about an affair he'd had (one of many, we're led to believe)
  • A Health Secretary who has alienated almost the entire medical profession
  • A Secretary of State for International Trade who had to resign from his post as Defence Secretary after giving a lobbyist far too much access to the department and taking him on trips around the world. He was also one of the worst offenders in the expenses scandal, over-claiming huge sums for mortgage payments amongst other things that he wasn't entitled to claim back
  • A DEFRA Secretary who, as well as having no clue about her role, thinks that men should not be allowed to look after children because they might be paedophiles

The others aren't much better.

Labour need to reach out to those who are sick of the same sort of people in power who don't speak for them. Labour need to have policies that help working people and show that a Labour government would invest in the majority of this country, not just the richest and most influential. They do NOT need to court Tory voters who have allowed the government to help out their rich friends and donors while hitting the most vulnerable people hard.

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