Saturday 7 May 2011

Out-Torying the Tories

David Blunkett, of cursed memory, has just announced that the Labour Party must learn from the recent election results:
We did do extremely well in areas where we were fighting the Liberal Democrats. The challenge however - given the at least temporary demise of the Liberal Democrats across the country - is to take on the Conservatives. Whilst in cities like Sheffield, we had to fight the Lib Dems, we have got to actually win over Tory supporters and non-voters. That's the challenge. There are some very substantial lessons to be learnt if we are going to win in four years' time.
 So Blunkett suggests two priorities: (a) winning over Tory supporters, (b) winning over non-voters. The second is clearly a substantial issue. Labour lost five million voters between 1997 and 2010, the vast majority of them working class. Did these people choose to vote Conservative instead? Hardly; the Conservative vote has not recovered substantially since 1997 (and is in fact in decades-long decline). The majority has, rather, simply stopped voting. So Blunkett is right: the Labour Party, if it wants to get back into power, needs to connect with non-voters. How is it to do this? My suggestion would be to take its own name seriously and actually represent the working class again, to end the abominable situation in which none of the three main parties advocate working-class interests even half-seriously.

But appeal to Tory voters? One is reminded not only of 'Blue Labour', but also of the despicable attempts to appeal to racism during the Blair/Brown years. Not only is this repulsive, it's also pointless: if voters want nasty policies, they'll vote for the Nasty Party, not the semi-skimmed New Labour version. The electoral base of the Tory Party includes groups who are unlikely to ever vote Labour (the upper reaches of the bourgeoisie, the aristocracy, certain petty-bourgeois layers), although there is of course working-class Tory support. I'd suggest that the only way the Labour vote will recover is to become a genuine social people's party. Yes, the great and the good won't like you anymore; but surely it's worth ending the pathetic Milibandian attempt to be against the cuts, but not too much?

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