2 October 2016

How Labour Can Realistically Win in 2020

Let's face it, Labour are going to find it extremely difficult to win the general election in 2020. That's not because Jeremy Corbyn beat Owen Smith, either. The Labour Party has lost touch with around four million voters since the New Labour era. An Owen Smith regime would've been a continuation of the same neoliberal centrist politics that destroyed the Labour Party under Blair and Brown. As Ed Miliband failed to connect with voters in 2015 and gave the Tories a majority, Smith's leadership would end with the same result. Jeremy Corbyn's radical personality and socialist policies has given Labour the best chance to defeat the Tories.

Unfortunately, just having a socialist leader will not reconnect with the four million lost voters. Labour will find it incredibly hard to get a minority government let alone an outright majority. Some pundits have stated that Scotland is the key to Labour getting back into power. By this, some mean winning back constituencies from the SNP. This is unlikely to happen whomever the leader of the Labour Party is due to Scottish nationalism and the alternative to this being the Scottish Conservatives. (Who are now the second largest party in the Scottish parliament) The other way they suggest Labour can take back control is through an electoral alliance with the progressive parties - SNP, Plaid, and the Greens. This is probably how Labour will get back into power in 2020 due to the loss of four million voters and no clear way of winning them back.

So, how can Labour realistically win back power in 2020 without being in a coalition or alliance with the SNP? Naturally, to win a majority, they’ll need to win back the four million lost voters. Many of these voters switched to UKIP as they became the new party of the working class. There are  a couple of reasons why old Labour voters switched to UKIP in recent years. Firstly and most importantly, UKIP are the party of border controls and lowering the levels of immigration. As I argue in my new book ‘Brexit: How the Working Class Took Britain out of Europe’ the financial crisis and subsequent Tory austerity has caused the working class to turn against migrants. Not least because the populist right and rightwing media have encourage it. Secondly, UKIP are the anti-establishment voice. After years of New Labour spin and how badly their administration turned out, the working class have turned their back on establishment politicians. When a pint drinking, cigarette smoking figure in a pub asks for their vote instead of a middle aged man with an elitist accent, they see a man who resembles the working class and not one of Westminster. 

In order to win a majority in 2020, Labour must have an immigration policy to bring down the levels of immigration. Personally, I am someone who likes the open-door with Europe. I think immigration is nothing but a benefit to the country and I’d argue to have a similar system with certain commonwealth nations. However, I’m fully aware that four million UKIP voters don’t like the open-door with Europe, they don’t like high levels of immigration, and they’d prefer an Australian style points system. For Labour to win back the old working class vote, they must adopt a similar policy. This is the only way they'll win enough votes to beat the Tories outright. 

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to have a socialist leader. The issue with Jeremy Corbyn is that he’s too nice. He says what he thinks but he’s also very politically correct. Currently, the working class are attracted to figures such as Farage and Trump who say what they think and aren't necessarily politically correct all the time. Whatever your opinion of Trump, he connects with the working class (middle class) of America. I will support Corbyn 100 per cent of the way and I don’t want him to adopt a strict immigration policy. I want him to continue what he’s doing and be this socialist figurehead for the members of the Labour Party who voted him in. 

If Owen Smith had won, I’d be saying the same thing. Labour cannot win a majority with lax immigration policies. Smith would face an even tougher challenge as he is a New Labour politician. People are sick of those and the 62 per cent of Labour members might have been lost to the Green Party along the way. Corbyn is the best chance for Labour to win back power but without a strict immigration plan, the path to power will be an alliance or coalition.

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