There was much to be optimistic about in last week’s General Election result. Despite the widely-predicted meltdown for Labour, what we actually saw was a huge boost in the Party’s national share of the vote, as well as a significant rise in its seat numbers. However, to give our Party the best chance of winning next time, we need to be honest about the challenges that lie ahead of us.
And the central challenge is this – Labour’s traditional working-class support base is continually being eroded. The huge boost in our share of the vote was driven in large part by a rise in our support in urban centres, while in small-town Britain, whole swathes of the C2DE vote (skilled workers through to non-workers) switched from Labour to Tory. In real terms, this meant we lost seats like Walsall North and Stoke-on-Trent South to the Tories, whilst failing to win seats like Copeland back from them.
This should give us all cause for concern. A party that can no longer rely on its core support turning out is a party that will either be forced to change its character or will have its character changed for it. There has been much speculation about realignments in British politics. A realignment we could not afford would be the wholesale shift of our core vote to the Tories. If this trend continues, we will have to fundamentally re-assess who and what the Labour Party is actually for.
It has been the contention of this website since it began that Labour needs urgently to build out from its core vote, rather than overstretch and allow the core to continue to hollow out. For this reason, we will soon set out in detail the three pillars of our Labour vision – a stronger economy, stronger communities and stronger defence. Without these three pillars, built atop the very foundations on which Labour stands, our party will continue to lurch from one election to the next without the prospect of a winning electoral coalition.
Back in March, Ryan Maynes wrote for us about Labour’s working-class exodus, whilst in the same month, Justin Reynolds authored a piece on Blue Labour, specifically about how its core tenets could help us revive support for social democracy in working-class communities. We continue to welcome pieces such as this, replete with strategic ideas for preserving and refashioning the link between Labour and its traditional supporters.
To win the next election, Labour will need to do more than get the vote out in urban centres and inspire the young. But if we can continue to do this and recapture the working-class vote that has slipped away, then we will put ourselves on course for a landslide. Sounds simple, doesn’t it…? Perhaps not, but in truth, solving this riddle is the key to returning Labour to government, and for that reason alone, it’s a riddle worth solving.
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