Amid this crisis, British social democracy looks, if not clueless, so completely divided that it is paralysed. A section of its old right wing, the pre-Blairite social conservatives who still hold about one sixth of the parliamentary seats, want a return to pre-1968 politics: immigration control, tough policing and expeditionary warfare across the world. The Blairites want a return to Tony Blair. Revelling in Starmer’s reversals, large numbers of supporters of Jeremy Corbyn—who resigned after the 2019 defeat—want a rerun of Corbynism. As for Starmer himself, because he has not built a mass base of his own, he is buffeted between the factions.
And yet there is a way forward. For all Labour’s bad headlines, the Conservatives' national vote share remains 36 percent. With Labour on 29 per cent and the Liberal Democrats boosted to 18 per cent by the ‘winnability’ factor in local and regional elections, this combined 43 per cent puts it entirely within the grasp of the opposition parties to defeat Johnson when he can no longer avoid calling an election.
Labour’s Plan A remains for Starmer to hoover up the votes of Greens and Lib Dems at a general election, bringing enough socially conservative workers back to Labour to unseat Johnson. If that doesn’t work (and it is unlikely that it will), Plan B—advocated by Norwich MP Clive Lewis and his supporters on the pro-Remain wing of Labour—is to seek a formal electoral alliance with the Greens and Lib Dems in England, which has the very real possibility of taking down the Tory government.
Political strategists on the centre / left haven't been getting this message - yet. But it looks like they are now. It is startling how few of them understand the seismic shifts that have occurred in British politics since 2016. They experience it all as a welter of confusing facts, inconveniently upsetting the world they were trained for.
In the days when Labour could ‘weigh’ rather than count its votes, there was no need for political theory, political science or even strategy. Few Labour politicians studied politics, or attended the British equivalent of the grandes écoles - studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford. Having failed to study even their own party’s history, many lack basic historical reference points, and look lost in the world of challenging political ideas, technological change, populism and rising hate speech.
French, Dutch and German politics knows only too well how that story ends. The fight to re-orient Labour to the point where Starmer’s strategy actually works is therefore a struggle for understanding.
The The Scottish National Party and the Scottish Greens showing the way, it seems that message is finally starting to penetrate the hierarchy of the Labour Party.
Alliances. They work.
HI GUYS....!! I bet you thought I'd gone away, eh..? Sorry to disappoint, OB, but I've just been busy with extended family issues and work. But hey....... I'm going to still be around to annoy you with inconvenient facts and irritating exposes. And guess what...?? I've been promoted..!! It seems I must be doing something right. Oh well.... busy, busy. A long day awaits. Have a read of the above and see how it sits with all of you in unicorns and rainbows land.