Saturday, November 05, 2016

general election 2017?

A couple of days ago, I wrote this as my facebook status:
Dear Labour Party: I think there's going to be a General Election VERY soon (especially after the High Court ruling on Article 50) and, if this is the case, as things stand (with you continuing to fail to provide an effective Opposition), it's going to be an utter disaster - probably guaranteeing a Tory government for the next 10 years at least. It could actually result in the demise of the Labour Party itself.
So, please get your act together very, VERY quickly... for the sake of the country.
Talking and negotiating with the LibDems, the SNP and the Green Party is probably your/our ONLY hope... but, hey, I know you won't be listening!

It triggered some interesting and thought-provoking responses.

The fact of the matter is that current opinion polls (30 October, for what it’s worth) indicate that the Tories have a 16% lead over Labour (Tories 43%, Labour 27%, LibDems 8%, UKIP 12%, Others 10%). This compares with an apparent(!) Labour lead of 1% on the eve of the May 2015 General Election (Tories 34%, Labour 35%, LibDems 9%, UKIP 11%, Others 11%).
Added to this is the potential for many of the Labour Party’s present MPs to be de-selected by its local membership at the next election. Would this result in more potential voters turning to the Labour Party or giving up altogether? I think most people would simply shake their heads and question if a Party that couldn’t sort itself out was actually capable of running the country. Perhaps I’m wrong.
One report I’ve seen this week has suggested that, based on current opinion polls, the Labour Party could be reduced to something like 160 seats in parliament (it current has 231) which would provide the Tories with a MASSIVE majority. On this basis, as I outlined on facebook, I genuinely fear that the Conservative Party would be in power for at least another ten years. The implications for the NHS, Mental Health, Education, Welfare, the Arts, the Rich and the Poor… and society in general are, for me, frankly TERRIFYING.
I genuinely feel that the majority of the population would share my concerns (albeit not as passionately perhaps?).

Sadly, our first-past-the-post election system provides no encouragement whatsoever. Effectively, this means that the outcome of a General Election hinges on the outcome in perhaps 100 “marginal” seats (however you gauge the term!). I would therefore maintain that there is very little prospect of Labour winning the next election (you might disagree – in which case, I admire your optimism!) based on the current electoral system. In my view, the ONLY way to prevent a Tory landslide at the next general Election is for the opposition parties to work together in order to try to maximise their chances (they might not win an election but, at worst, they might secure a far more effective Opposition).
In order for this happen, it will require Labour, LibDems, the Greens and Plaid Cymru to work together (in England and Wales) and to decide which party stands the best chance of winning each individual parliamentary seat (and to concentrate their limited resources/budget accordingly). Sadly (in terms of true democracy), this will mean that the Green Party, for instance, should only contest perhaps a total of say six seats; the LibDems say 75; Plaid Cymru say 20? In all the other constituencies (and, yes, that would include mine), this would mean the electorate making a straight decision between the Tories and Labour (with UKIP perhaps eating into more Tory votes than Labour!).
It’s far from ideal, but it might be the ONLY way the Labour Party (and the country!) can avoid utter disaster. It would also mean that the Labour Party would agree to incorporate LibDems/Greens/Plaid Cymru policies within its own manifesto (and include members from the other parties within its own Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet).
Such a move would require brave leadership amongst all the opposition parties… but the potentially devastating implications, if they don’t, don’t bear thinking about.
Sadly, I don’t think the Labour Party would contemplate such a policy under its present leadership (and we all know that there’s very chance of a new leader being elected before the next General Election!).
It might be time to move to Iceland… or Finland… or Denmark (if they’ll have us!)?


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