Opinion: Yes, Labour really has given up on winning votes from the Conservatives

Labour Party logoI’m not fully signed up to the mockery for Labour’s recent TV and online films mocking Nick Clegg. Why? Because for all the naff content themselves, the broad message of them has been massively reported in the media, reaching a much wider audience than the films themselves.

I doubt that was a deliberate strategy as you can’t count on calibrating something to be just bad enough to get lots of coverage but not so bad as to sink under it. It’s a handy silver lining, however, especially as it diverted most criticism from the political strategy behind the attacks on the Liberal Democrats.

Labour’s target should be the Conservatives. It is Conservative seats the party needs to win. It is the Conservative’s lead on economic issues Labour needs to overcome. It is the public’s preference for David Cameron over Ed Miliband Labour needs to reverse.

Yet all through this Parliament, it has consistently failed to win over many voters from the Conservatives. As I pointed out in February last year, research by the Fabian Society shows only a tiny number of voters switching direct between Conservatives and Labour. It’s a pattern that has continued since then (for more of which, see Liberal Democrat Newswire #44).

Instead, Labour’s limited progress in the opinion polls since 2010 (limited to recovering from the depths of Gordon Brown to the not exactly dizzying heights of Tony Blair after Iraq) has been predominantly about the Lib Dem versus Labour tussle.

The problem for Labour is that tussle simply isn’t enough on its own for Labour to beat the Conservatives in a general election and come out with a decent majority of its own.

That’s the real story at the heart of Labour’s decision to go for the Lib Dems.

It’s a logical strategy. It may even be the best for Labour in its current circumstances. But it is also a highly defeatist strategy.

* Mark Pack is a member of the Federal Board and editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire. He is a candidate for Party President.

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34 Comments

  • Obviously, Labour hasn’t really recovered from its unpopularity under Gordon Brown.

    Nor have the Tories ever really recovered from their unpopularity under John Major – and now they have an added dose of unpopularity as a government of austerity.

    And now the Lib Dems have experienced their own nadir of unpopularity, which they are unlikely to recover from for years to come.

    Perhaps we should be thankful that nothing worse than UKIP has come along to fill the vacuum.

  • paul barker 11th May '14 - 1:41pm

    Its a strategy which is failing, the number of Libdem “defectors” to Labour has been falling steadily over the last few months & if it continues to decline at the present rate will be zero by May 2015.
    The Labour”Lead” over the Tories was around 2% last week but UKIP have come riding to the rescue this weekend. That factor wont last though, UKIP will peak around the end of the month & decline rapidly after that, exposing the bedrock of long-term polling trends. Sometime over the summer Labours Polling Lead will vanish plunging them into another bout of infighting & recrimination.
    I stick to my prediction that Labour will Poll in the the mid twenties next May, if they can hold together that long.

  • you are funny paul barker

    The weekend polls have Labour on
    Yougov 7% ahead
    Opinium 4% ahead
    Survation 6 % ahead

    In the same polls we see Liberal Democrats clearly stuck in the mud on
    Yougov 9%
    Opinium 9%
    Survation 10%

    The loudest voices within your party are coming from those who are more on the right of the party, which will result in more and more left, centre left leaning voters abandoning the party at the 2015 election.

    But I am not complaining because the longer your party continues down this strategy, the better chance there will be of the conservatives and this coalition government being kicked out of office in 2015

  • The problem for Labour is that tussle simply isn’t enough on its own for Labour to beat the Conservatives in a general election and come out with a decent majority of its own.

    Yes it is.

    On a uniform swing recent polling will give labour a majority of 30-80 seats. Depending on how disciplined they are, and they generally are disciplined, that won’t hinder their ability to pass legislation.

    We also don’t know what a high turnout for UKIP will mean, but we do know that whatever that turnout is, it will hurt the Tories more than Labour.

    Now, there are huge issues with any party forming a government with less than close to 50% of the vote, and I’d support some form of PR to resolve this, but frankly, after the botched AV referendum, that’s not going to happen for quite a while.

  • Chris Manners 11th May '14 - 2:17pm

    “It’s a logical strategy. It may even be the best for Labour in its current circumstances. But it is also a highly defeatist strategy.”

    Yeah, of course it is…

    That’ll be why they’ve led the Tories for over 2 years.

    “Labour’s limited progress in the opinion polls since 2010”

    They did fall back in December 2011, in a succession of polls.

  • Bill le Breton 11th May '14 - 2:28pm

    Mark is right about Labour’s political strategy which of course its comms strategy, including this PPB, serves. That is the right way round. And the two strategies are in harmony.

    I am sure that Ashdown’s political strategy for the GE (which is the reverse side of the same coin of Labour’s strategy – the tussle over the 2010 LD > Lab supporters ) is also right. But those running the comms operation have totally opposite objectives. They continue to bash Labour (in a way that alienates the very people we must reconnect with). They do it because it both supports and is directed by Clegg and his coterie. And in an amazingly unsophisticated way they compound matters with their counter=productive and childish efforts at differentiation – which Caron elsewhere is right to squirm about.

    We are in the hands of some unbelievably poor strategists and communicators . They clearly know nothing about political campaigning. Change post 25th May is urgently required.

  • @Bill le Breton
    With regard to the council waste report, the problem was not poor communication, but poor judgement. The report communicated some simplistic claims which does not make me want to vote LibDem.

  • Peter Watson 11th May '14 - 4:59pm

    @paul barker “the number of Libdem “defectors” to Labour has been falling steadily ”
    Where are they going? Polling suggests they’ve not returned to the Lib Dems.

  • Technical Ephemera 11th May '14 - 5:34pm

    Ok, interesting article and debate. I don’t post here because I am not sympathetic to the Lib Dems, but here is my take on this.

    If the Lib Dem strategy is to target switchers to Labour it is almost certainly going to fail. In 2010 the Lib Dems campaigned to the left of New Labour and picked up a lot of votes. That constituency and most of the former SDP are lost to the party. If the Lib Dems had voted down the health bill them it would be in play, but they didn’t. Given that the most effective strategy is probably to target soft Tory voters who are unconvinced by Cameron’s lurch to the right.

    Now the central argument of this piece is that the Labour PEB was an attack on Clegg and a sign they had given up on Tory switchers. This isn’t entirely the case for a number of reasons. Firstly the broadcast itself used Clegg as a focal point and reinforced the idea he was a weak man who was unable to stand up to the Tory party. This may or may not be true, but that was the line. The rest of the broadcast was a set of carefully pitched attacks on Cameronism (which is Eton educated, aristocratic, rich, corporate Tory). It served to plant memes which resonate in a broadcast it hoped would be widely aired. For example Clegg is shown as having a conscience but the Tories are just cast as nasty.

    Stepping back to look at the Labour view, when Clegg made his speech casting left wing voters into the wilderness he moved a huge chunk of left and centre left voters into Labours camp. This constituency will probably give a Labour a majority when added to their 2010 vote. The Tory vote in 2010 was 36%, 3 percentage points above their base vote. To get those 3 percent Labour has to move rightwards of New Labour. Were it to do so it risks the 7-10 percentage points it may gain from the left wing Lib Dem switchers. Why would it do that? Answer it wouldn’t, no sane party would risk more to gain less.

    However Labour has also not settled on a 35% policy, it is looking to identify specific groups who might be natural Tory voters but who are very badly served by them. This is one reason you see the Venezualan Communism housing policy being promoted. There will be other policies along doing similar things for target groups closer to the election.

    For what it is worth (not much) here is what I think the 2015 result will be. Lab 38, Con 34, lib Dem 10, UKIP 10. Lib Dems to have approximately 20 MPs – but an aggressive campaign targeting moderate Tories in key marginals could move that up as per Eastleigh.

  • Bill le Breton 11th May '14 - 5:58pm

    Voter, they are not exclusive. It was poor judgement and part of that poverty of judgement was that it was counter to the political strategy being run by the Chair of the General Election Team.

    But then the team that put that document together seems to be running round like a headless chicken. I am told that ALDC was not party to the process or the document and I think the same applies to the LGA group.

    The Leader’s team is totally out of control in relation to the Party and its constitution. It is a bit like the CIA in the Eighties.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th May '14 - 10:36am


    That’s the real story at the heart of Labour’s decision to go for the Lib Dems.

    It’s not a decision or a strategy. It’s the way Labour is. Labour hates us more than the Tories because it hates political pluralism. If it had the choice of destroying us and letting the Tories win, or working with us to defeat the Tories, it would go for the former every time. Anyone who has ever had to deal with Labour will know that is how it is – as soon as we start challenging them and winning against them, they turn very, very nasty. Underneath Labour has the old socialist mentality – the working class’s vote is theirs by right (and the working class in this context means anyone who is employed for a living), anyone who is working class and does not vote Labour has either been fooled by “dirty tricks” or is a traitor, the idea that someone might not vote Labour because they don’t like Labour, especially if that person has a leftish sort of politics, doesn’t enter their heads. To them, politics HAS to be one party of the left – them – against the Tories.

    This is what I have discovered in conversations with people active in the Labour Party. Even if they are reasonably decent people, they just don’t get the pluralist democracy. To them, politics is about them winning power, and that’s it. It’s not about actually winning support for their ideas, or inputting those ideas into a wider political discussion to come up with a consensus opinion. It’s remarkable the extent to which the “politburo” mentality is still there underneath – policy is made in the party, the democratic chamber is just there to rubber stamp it. This seems to be the aspect of Labour that stays when everything else goes, Blair may have abandoned Labour’s socialist policies, but not the Labour model of political party.

    That is why to this day we hear about Thatcherism having triumphed over Labour in the 1980s only because the SDP “split the vote” even though opinion polls at the time showed Liberal-SDP voters divided evenly between Labour and Conservative as second choice (no difference whether they were Liberal or SDP, it was not a factor), so the presence of a Liberal or SDP candidate would not have made a difference between whether Labour or the Conservatives won a seat. So now they refuse to admit that they lost in 2010 because people were fed up with them and the Tories came ahead in votes. They continue to push the myth that it was all the fault of the Liberal Democrats, that somehow the Liberal Democrats “put the Tories in”, that somehow if it were not for those pesky Liberal Democrats there would be a Labour government in right now.

    The logical way for Labour to behave now, if it really wanted to push its sort of policies, would be to back us when we are arguing with the Conservatives in the coalition, offering us more generous terms for potential coalition after the next general election. That would greatly strengthen the hands of the Liberal Democrats within the coalition to counter the worst of Tory policies, and work to isolate the Conservative Party, making it look extreme right-wing and unpopular. Labour aren’t going to do this, however. As with their opposition to electoral reform, they’d rather see extreme right policies succeed in the coalition and us crushed, so that the pendulum will swing back and the old two-party system be restored. Which means the pendulum swing back to the Tories the time after that, then we’ll see what a Tory government unrestrained by the Liberal Democrats looks like. Labour would rather be the sole opposition party to that than share power or give up the idea that there’s more than one way (their way) of being to the left in politics.

  • Matthew “The logical way for Labour to behave now, if it really wanted to push its sort of policies, would be to back us when we are arguing with the Conservatives in the coalition, ”

    The logical way for LibDems to behave would have been to not look SO comfortable with Tories and their policies. I will never forget the image of LibDems in Cabinet banging on tables and cheering in the House of Commons when the NHS reforms were passed. That’s just one example but there are many.

  • Matthew Huntbach

    It’s not a decision or a strategy. It’s the way Labour is. Labour hates us more than the Tories because it hates political pluralism. If it had the choice of destroying us and letting the Tories win, or working with us to defeat the Tories, it would go for the former every time.

    That’s not fair. Labour hates Liberal Democrats because they worked with the Tories, who Labour hates.

    Labour have been willing to work with Lib Dems in the past, whether in Westminster (the Blair/Ashdown suggestion of shared power – ultimately not needed) and in devolved parliaments where a coalition of Lab/Lib governed with more success than the current Westminster arrangement.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th May '14 - 12:33pm

    Phyllis

    The logical way for LibDems to behave would have been to not look SO comfortable with Tories and their policies.

    Yes, this is a point I have made repeatedly myself.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th May '14 - 12:46pm

    g

    That’s not fair. Labour hates Liberal Democrats because they worked with the Tories, who Labour hates.

    It’s absolutely fair.

    Firstly, I am NOT talking just about the current situation. I am talking about what I have observed in 35 years of active membership of the Liberal Democrats and its predecessor.

    Secondly, this reveals just the sort of juvenile and illogical way of thinking to which I am objecting. As I keep saying, the current coalition results from the election results of May 2010, there was no other stable government that could have been formed. If Labour think there was, then THEY are as much to blame for it not existing as the Liberal Democrats, because the balance in Parliament has not changed, instead of moaning about the coalition they could be offering an alternative one and saying exactly what policies it would involve that would be agreeable to the Liberal Democrats. Wouldn’t that be a far more effective and constructive way of attacking Clegg and the Cleggies?

    The relative weakness of the Liberal Democrats and strength of the Conservatives in the coalition derives from the distortion of the electoral system that Labour supports but the Liberal Democrats do not. Labour are complaining about the effects of the electoral system which they support, and blaming the consequences on the Liberal Democrats, even though the Liberal Democrats do not support that electoral system and its distortions. I find that to be disgusting hypocrisy. It doesn’t stop being disgusting hypocrisy just because Clegg is such a useless person that he is unable to get that message across himself.

  • Stephen Howse 12th May '14 - 12:46pm

    “Labour would rather be the sole opposition party to that than share power or give up the idea that there’s more than one way (their way) of being to the left in politics.”

    Absolutely spot on.

    Many of them pay lip service to the idea of pluralism but when confronted with it as a tangible reality, they don’t like it at all.

    You’re either Labour, or you’re right wing. There is no other way. They just cannot get it into their heads *why* anyone would not be a Labour Party member/voter/supporter.

    Blair’s great strength was in understanding just what it was that attracted people to the Tory Party. He understood what it was about Tory philosophy and policies that appealed to Middle England and he spoke to them in terms they understood. He reassured them that Labour was on their side.

    Blair won three elections, comfortably (two of them by landslides), off the back of that insight. His reward is to be airbrushed from Labour history and booed at their conference.

    “We’ve got our party back” – Well you’re about to get terminal opposition back as well, Mr Kinnock. See how fun that is!

  • Matthew Huntbach

    I agree with a lot of what you say but not this bit:

    “The logical way for Labour to behave now, if it really wanted to push its sort of policies, would be to back us when we are arguing with the Conservatives in the coalition, offering us more generous terms for potential coalition after the next general election. That would greatly strengthen the hands of the Liberal Democrats within the coalition to counter the worst of Tory policies, and work to isolate the Conservative Party, making it look extreme right-wing and unpopular.”

    You are assuming that they are motivated by the country’s best interest, however if you assume as you correctly Identify earlier that they believe their best interests are served by opposing political pluralism.

    Given this, their interests are served by making it look as though political pluralism can’t work. It is perfectly logical to act in a way that gives the impression that only a binary choice is a workable solution in the future.

    It is party interest over national interest but it is logical if you accept that is the driver.

  • Stephen Howse

    “They just cannot get it into their heads *why* anyone would not be a Labour Party member/voter/supporter.”

    There is a good description of this in someone’s biography (possibly Paddy’s) when they describe the incomprehension of a Labour leader why they wouldn’t join one of the bigger two parties and “wait their turn”

    This is possibly another reason for the attitude to pluralism. They see their existing “safe areas” as theirs by right from which they are able to “wait their turn.”

    This attitude show they don’t understand that politics should be about ideas, and indicates what they are likely to be like when trying to share power.

  • g

    “and in devolved parliaments where a coalition of Lab/Lib governed with more success than the current Westminster arrangement.”

    Yet these were where there was no history and everything was being done for the first time. There was no sense of entitlement as there was no history of them being “entitled” to run the country.

    If the voting system was changed with everyone being aware that there would be a move to plural politics then it may be a lot easier, but this attitude is the reactionary conservatism you would expect from embedded vested interests.

  • paul barker 12th May '14 - 2:05pm

    Over the last year or so Labours average Poll lead fell from 11% to 2 or 3% last week. Over the weekend the effect of the approaching Euros kicked in with UKIP taking enough votes from the Tories to save Labours bacon, for now. “Normal” Polling will resume in June or July with the Labour lead falling to 1 or 2%. Cue Labour panic, unless they are already panicking over their performance in The Euros.
    If I was to list Labours major problems this would turn into an essay so I wont.
    3 years ago I predicted that our Polls rating would only rise when one of the big Parties split or the 2015 campaign began, next February probably; my opinion hasnt changed.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th May '14 - 3:18pm

    Psi

    You are assuming that they are motivated by the country’s best interest,

    Well that’s what motivates me in politics, tempered by democracy i.e. if the people vote for a government which I feel is not in the country’s best interests, I accept that government, I wouldn’t want to overthrow it, just argue that next time they shouldn’t vote that way.

    however if you assume as you correctly Identify earlier that they believe their best interests are served by opposing political pluralism.

    Oh, sure, but look at that “if it really wanted to push its sort of policies” which was the qualifier. That’s my point, Labour would rather their policies don’t get pushed than share power.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th May '14 - 3:53pm

    Stephen Howse

    Blair’s great strength was in understanding just what it was that attracted people to the Tory Party. He understood what it was about Tory philosophy and policies that appealed to Middle England and he spoke to them in terms they understood.

    No, I don’t think he did any of this at all. His great strength was the ability to appeal enough to the right-wing press and sufficient millionaire backers that they did enough to put him into power. People voted for Blair’s Labour Party because they had been led to believe that there are only two ways to vote, and if you wanted a change of government from the Conservatives, voting for it was what you had to do. His pushing his party to the right meant he got a bit of funding from rich backers to help it campaign, and it wasn’t as thoroughly rubbished in the newspapers most people read as it was under his predecessors.

    If Blair had REALLY given the Labour Party a much more attractive and “in touch” image, wouldn’t the people of this country now be feeling much more positive about its politics and its political parties, and feeling that politicians on the whole are good people who have their interests at heart? But things have moved the opposite way, haven’t they?

    What ACTUALLY attracts a lot of people to the Conservative Party is the feeling that it stands for old-fashioned values, for keeping things the same as they always were, for safety-first. Blair was for none of this at all, he was all for “modernising” and change for change’s sake. A lot of Blairism was not much more than labelling whatever he and his right-wing backers wanted as “modern” and therefore pushing the idea that it couldn’t be argued about, that’s the way the world is going, so we have to accept it.

    Before Blair, politics in this country was thought to be about the Labour Party which was more on the side of the people and in touch with how ordinary people think and live, but perhaps lacking a bit in business experience and ability, and the Conservatives who were the opposite. After Blair, politics is seen as a battle between forces ALL of whom are completely out of touch with how ordinary people live, are only on the side of the rich, and are just in it for themselves.

    The southern working class in England are the invisible people. Most of the social elite and commentariat have no idea what motivates them and how they think. Class division is bigger in the south than in the north. The social elite in the south keep to themselves, the working class are just a shadowy thing they are hardly aware of. Some of the social elite come from the north, move south and think the sort of elite types they mix with ARE the “south”.

    It is this invisibility of the working class in the south that causes so much wrong-headed thinking, such as yours, Stephen Howse. It leads to this assumption that the south is naturally more right-wing, that the way to win souther votes is to become more right-wing. It is a wrong assumption. The phrase “Middle England” which you use is an invention of the right-wing press, which means the top 10% in wealth terms, but written up in a way that tries to fool poorer people into thinking it includes them.

    The reality of the non-social-elite south is that it moved before the rest of the country into this mode of thinking which saw politics as a battle between two alien forces, neither of which had any feeling or interest in them. The result is that working class people in the south lost the habit earlier than elsewhere of thinking that Labour was THEIR party, of voting Labour because “That’s what people like us always do”. Having lost that habit, they threw their votes around in a more random manner. Sometimes they threw them at the Liberals, or their successors, sometimes at Labour or sometimes at the Conservatives. The fact that they felt and feel that Labour are just as much alien and out-of-touch as the Conservatives, and were and are therefore more likely to vote Conservative does NOT mean they have any particular liking for Conservative policies and ideas, and so does NOT mean that adopting them will help win their votes.

  • A Social Liberal 12th May '14 - 5:19pm

    Paul

    On polls – UK Polling Report reports thus on three polls on Sunday

    “There are three voting intention polls in the Sunday papers. The regular YouGov/Sunday Times poll has topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13% – we’ve had a week of YouGov poll with quite low Labour leads, including a couple with leads of just one point. This seven point lead suggests they were just co-incidence and what we’re actually seeing is normal random variation around an underlying lead of 3 or 4 points (tabs are here.
    Meanwhile Opinium in the Observer has topline figures of CON 29%(-3), LAB 33%(-1), LDEM 9%(+2), UKIP 20%(+2). Opinion tend to give UKIP some of their highest scores but even by those standards its a high score – the highest Opinium have shown since last summer’s 21%. We are overdue an Opinium European poll too – they said they’d be releasing one last weekend, then mid-week, but nothing yet.
    Finally Survation for the Mail on Sunday have topline figures of CON 28%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 20%. Survation are the other company that tends to give UKIP their highest scores but again the 20% is the highest since last summer. They also have European election voting intentions which stand at CON 21%, LAB 28%, LD 9%, UKIP 32%, GRN 5%. This seems to be becoming the broad picture of European election support (tabs here.”

    . . . . . . an average of nearly six points! Quite different to the 2-3% of last week, eh?

  • Matthew Huntbach

    “Well that’s what motivates me in politics, tempered by democracy i.e. if the people vote for a government which I feel is not in the country’s best interests, I accept that government, I wouldn’t want to overthrow it, just argue that next time they shouldn’t vote that way.”

    I think we agree on this.

    I recognise that your motivations are what is best for the country. The point I was trying to make is that there is a section of the Labour party who’s primary driver is getting power (former Prime Ministers). They joined the Labour party as that looked possible to stomach and decided it would be their vehicle to power. By this approach they believe they just need to work out the systems of manipulating the party to win the victories they care about.

    If someone arrives advocating pluralism they have to engage in arguments of ideas proposing particular policies. If those ideas fail it is likely to be that the idea was not very good (either in conception, design and/or implementation).

    There is also the other group who react badly as it is “change” and this scares them. However I don’t think many in this grouping rise very far up the Labour hierarchy so when dealing with Labour Councillors it is more likely to be the first group.

    Everyone I have met in the Labour party who were both believers in pluralism and also looked like they had what it would take to get on in the party have developed other interests. There were signs that the childish “my gang” sort of behavior was a turn off and they realised they could have more of a sense of achievement working elsewhere in NGOs, businesses, civil service, etc.

    My point was simply how logical their behavior is relates to what their base driver is. If, as in your case it is what is best for the country, it is illogical. However I think in a worryingly large number of cases it is a different driver so it is logical from what drives them.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th May '14 - 12:28pm

    Psi

    The point I was trying to make is that there is a section of the Labour party who’s primary driver is getting power (former Prime Ministers). They joined the Labour party as that looked possible to stomach and decided it would be their vehicle to power.

    That suggests that the attitude I am attacking here is held only by those members of the Labour Party who aren’t really committed to its policy ideals. That most certainly is NOT the case. I find the attitude I am attacking here is held by almost ALL members of the Labour Party, if anything even more so by those who really are committed to the ideal of building a fairer and more equal society that motivate me as well. I find even if I can agree with a lot of what they stand for in terms of policy, I just cannot stomach that arrogant and anti-democratic and particularly anti-pluralist mentality which is so much part of the Labour Party.

    That is why I am making the point that while the Labour Party may have abandoned much of its socialist policies, it is still very much based on the socialist model of political party, which was so much developed by that thoroughly evil man, Vladimir Lenin. Perhaps the long-term legacy of the time when socialism was the lead political philosophy is the way the Leninist model of political party has now become the norm, most people take it for granted, a lot of the arguments I have in this very forum come about because so many people just can’t conceive of a political party which works in any other way. It is just assumed that a political party MUST be a top-down mechanism which is all about developing a rigid five-year plan with its members there just to push the plan and obey the party line as promoted by the Dear Leader without question.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th May '14 - 12:39pm

    Psi

    The old model for the Labour Party was that everyone should be in a Trade Union, and all Trade Unions should affiliate to the Labour Party. This is a model for a one-party state. This model, which I saw myself when I was Leader of the Opposition in a Labour-run council, leads to the sort of politics where all decision-making and policy development is done in The Party, with the democratic mechanisms there just to rubber-stamp it.

    You write about pluralists in the Labour Party, well I never came across any. At the HEART of the Labour Party is this anti-pluralist model. I have always found that even the nicest most decent Labour Party people who I got on well with on a personal level just were not able to break out of this anti-pluralist mentality. You could have conversations with them on many things, come to think they had the same sort of mentality as you, but suddenly you would come to a point where a pluralist approach was needed, and all you got was a blank response because they just could not understand the point you were making.

    That is why, for example, so few Labour Party people understand the arguments for proportional representation. That is why most of them just don’t understand the Liberal Democrats, just don’t understand why someone like me doesn’t want to join the Labour Party, just don’t understand why there must be a multiplicity of political parties rather than one monopolistic party of the left up against the party of the right.

  • paul barker 14th May '14 - 1:46pm

    A quick update on Labour Poll figures, on UKPR they are currently averaging 35%, with a 2% lead over the tories. If we take the last 8 Polls only the Labour average is 34% & the lead is zero. The 2nd figure of 34% would mean the Labour average had fallen by 9% in 15 months, with 12 months to go.

  • Peter Watson 14th May '14 - 10:35pm

    @paul barker “The 2nd figure of 34% would mean the Labour average had fallen by 9% in 15 months, with 12 months to go.”
    In the absence of the BBC’s Poll Tracker, the graph of polling at UKPR is interesting (http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/voting-intention-2). Labour’s decline does not seem to offer any crumbs of comfort to Conservatives or Lib Dems since it looks like the only beneficiaries are UKIP.

  • I saw today that someone was suggesting that many ex-LibDems who had gone to Labour are now going to the Greens , who have shot up 5%.

  • Matthew Huntbach said:

    “It’s the way Labour is. Labour hates us more than the Tories because it hates political pluralism. If it had the choice of destroying us and letting the Tories win, or working with us to defeat the Tories, it would go for the former every time. Anyone who has ever had to deal with Labour will know that is how it is – as soon as we start challenging them and winning against them, they turn very, very nasty. Underneath Labour has the old socialist mentality – the working class’s vote is theirs by right..”

    I’m afraid this is the authentic voice of unreconstructed tribalism.

    Oh sure, there are many Labourites who are just as arrogant, obnoxious and self-centred as Matthew describes. Unfortuantely, much the same is true of Lib Dems. The Lib Dem version of tribalism is based on a different form of obnoxious behaviour – claiming the moral high ground while selling out to the Tories, claiming a mythical intellectual superiority, claiming to represent a peculiarly unique political vision that somehow drifted out of sight a generation ago. But it is equally harmful.

    If progressive-minded politicians in the Lib Dems, Labour and Green parties can do nothing but slag off each other, they should know what will come to them. Defeat by the Bullingdon boys, who will be free to trash the nation.

  • SIMON BANKS 16th May '14 - 7:54pm

    I don’t see how ridiculing the Lib Dem leader will win over people wondering whether to vote Lib Dem or Labour. They’re quite likely to react against it. The best strategy for Labour to win Lib Dem votes would be to stress Labour policies attractive to Lib Dem voters and to attack the Tories (Lib Dem/Labour floaters are bound not to like the Tories).

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