Yesterday I mentioned that I think the success of Labour’s campaign may turn out to be a bad thing, and I said I’d discuss that today. One of the many things I hate about the Labour Party has turned into a successful strategy for them this time around, and that aspect of them is this: they perpetuate a two-party system. Their political narrative is that there are only two parties – The Tories and Labour. Members and voters for any other party are disaffected Labour supporters in their eyes. You cannot be allowed to be a member of the Labour Party if you have ever supported their stated aims by doing anything other than direct campaigning for Labour, or if you have ever breathed a word of support for another party. But all left-leaning parties are naturally Labour allies and should fall by the wayside to let Labour defeat the Evil Tories.
I detest this attitude from both the party hierarchy and their grass roots. I detest it even more from those that deserted the Liberal Democrats across this decade for “getting into bed with the Tories”. I detest this attitude from Caroline Lucas, who is supposed to be co-leading her own, separate party. It means that nobody ever considers policy, or their representative in Parliament. They either vote for or against the Tories, and “against the Tories” means a vote for Labour. Because if coalitions are to be built, they must be built to get the Tories out of power. Not to find common ground, you understand – simply to get or keep the Tories out. And Labour must naturally be the leading party in such a coalition because that is the divinely ordained Natural Order of Things.
This produces an arrogance that makes the Labour Party quite bad at forming coalitions. It meant that when the Liberal Democrats became king-makers in 2010, Labour were offering “miserable little compromises” as Nick Clegg put it, while the Conservatives were negotiating properly for government.
Normally, I have a natural affinity for the Greens. But Natalie Bennett’s leadership showed that Caroline Lucas is sitting in Parliament as the party’s only competent member. And even her naïvety is starting to show. The Greens have stepped down or not selected candidates in places where Labour might oust a Conservative MP. Lucas and the party’s social media have been full of a “Tories Out” message that works directly with Labour’s two party, “us and them” narrative. Unfortunately, this means that the Greens have forfeited their identity. Lucas, or any other Green MP if one ever exists, will not get a seat at the top table. Labour are too arrogant to make a deal with the larger parties, and Green willingness to make a deal for the sake of a rainbow anti-tory coalition where Labour calls all the shots positions Lucas as a Labour shill.
The reason that Labour not being shaken up is a bad thing right now, even in the face of the Conservatives making themselves truly appalling, is their record in opposition under Corbyn so far. The Conservatives have a weak majority, meaning that legislation can be defeated by a back-bench rebellion. But Labour, rather than standing firm in opposition with the Scottish National Party and arguing well in Parliament to try to gain some moral Conservative support, have abstained or actively supported the Conservative position in the party’s best interests rather than the interests of their policy. On two occasions, the tensions between Corbyn’s position and the parliamentary party’s position has resulted in meetings before debates where the whip has vanished or made a last-minute U-turn after strenuous negotiation. As I pointed out in my last article, this will continue even if Labour make significant gains.
And all this makes the fact that the left-leaning public have bought the Labour two-party narrative all the more galling. Scotland voted to remain in the EU, on the whole. And the UK picture put 48% in support of remaining. Right now, with a Eurosceptic Labour leader of a fractious party, Labour will not create firm opposition to a hard Brexit. If Remainers voted Liberal Democrat en masse, we may have stood a chance of an opposition fighting against unnecessary hard breaks as we leave through Lib-Dem and SNP joint opposition. Instead, we’re likely to get an enlarged, but still useless, Labour opposition.
The only hope I have otherwise hangs on two factors. Firstly, Labour supporters have historically been bad at coming out and actually voting. Secondly, the big upsurge in youth vote registrations and Corbyn rally attendances does not mean that said youths will be bothered to actually get their arses to the polling stations. I say this because social media Labour supporters think they’ve won the argument already and their bubbles will confirm that – this may create complacency.
Certainly, I don’t think the Scots are ready to vote Labour again, so the current swing in the polls is unlikely to return a Labour majority. But I can see one of three things happening.
It All Stays the Same
The Conservatives still keep their small majority, give or take. This is the worst thing that could possibly happen, as the Bastards are willing to hold the party as a whole to ransom in Parliament. May and the Cabinet would have to, as they do already, constantly give them sops. This will be very bad during Brexit negotiations, and will make for other hard-line ideological policies that will pass because of the whip.
Significantly Increased Conservative Majority
The polls say this is unlikely, but polls haven’t been good predictors over the past three years. It’s May’s ideal scenario as a flood of younger, more centrist Conservative MPs will give her a free hand. Unfortunately, what she would do with that free hand is looking more and more horrifying in the light of the poor solutions she has suggested to recent security problems.
A Hung Parliament
Labour are unlikely to make successful coalition negotiations with the SNP. I say this because the ScotsNats are unlikely to stand for Labour’s usual “It’s us or the Tories” arrogance. And given how against their own leader they are and will continue to be, I don’t see how Labour could survive a coalition with the SNP (or anyone) for very long. If Labour fail to form a government, a Conservative minority government might limp on. But I can see any hung Parliament triggering a coup within the Conservatives even if May doesn’t resign. The SNP might be able to do a coalition deal with a more left-leaning Conservative leader, but it would take Labour making a true pig’s ear of negotiations before this could happen. And whilst the negotiations drag on and we’re technically lacking a government while trying to negotiate our exit from Europe, the Pound will tank.
You would be right to conclude that I don’t like the look of any of this. And if you’re really hanging on with bated breath for my advice before casting your vote, I promise you a conclusion at 6 tomorrow morning.
(Spoiler alert: I already told it to a commentator on my last post, and I made the case for it in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum last year.)
Nota bene: I will be modding the comments on wordpress and facebook heavily. The rules are here. I will delete comments ruthlessly.