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This morning I was woken up by a text from a friend saying, “WAKE UP THERE IS POLITICS HAPPENING”. I’m 5 hours behind in New York so wasn’t awake for May’s announcement of an early election.
Further texts followed from very senior Labour officials with increasing levels of worry with one simply saying “disaster”.
My first thought was just what serious trouble the Labour Party is in.
But this runs far deeper than Jeremy Corbyn and it’s idle to think that simply replacing Jeremy would achieve a better election result. The reality is that the Labour Party should be in third and they would be if it weren’t for Tim Faron’s ineffectiveness.
There are two major problems for the Labour Party.
In many of the world’s wealthiest countries, automation and technologisation has dramatically reduced the amount of manufacturing jobs. The UK is one of the worst countries for this and skilled jobs have gradually been disappearing over the years, despite the fact we produce more goods than we ever have before.
What this means is that when this happens in cities people are forced into insecure low paid work, to use an app like uber that reduces wages for workers but prices for consumers or to live on benefits.
When this happens outside of cities your options are limited by poor public transport. In Hemsworth for example many people are forced to work at the ASOS delivery depot for a low wage that delivers goods to people in cities.
What this creates is resentment and affects the view of people on immigration. Many people felt left behind by New Labour in the 2000s. These people are long lost to Labour and increasingly voted UKIP but have recently been won round the Tory Party.
This is a good example on Twitter today.
Message from an ex-Labour voter, who went UKIP last time and now finds himself going Tory - I wonder how many others there are like this? pic.twitter.com/DwPSfaLn3U— Mark Wallace (@wallaceme) April 18, 2017
The Labour Party has to win back its working class base of support but it’s important to note that these people were long lost to Labour. They didn’t vote for Gordon Brown and they didn’t vote for Ed Miliband, but flirted with the idea and ultimately decided against it. Jeremy hasn’t lost these voters.
Liberals. People like me who benefit and believe in a globalised society. As Dr Kevin Cunningham pointed out on Twitter, Jeremy Corbyn’s problem is actually his position on the EU.
Doesn't look like Corbyn as a leader did much damage, rather his and the party's stance on Brexit since the referendum which is leading to.. pic.twitter.com/QsrbWIfgj6— Dr Kevin Cunningham (@kevcunningham) April 18, 2017
If you look at the opinion polls and results like Copeland Labour has lost a lot of votes to the Lib Dems, some to the Tories and the Tories have gained a huge amount of voters from UKIP.
If the Copeland result was replicated due to the collapse in Labour vote from Labour to Lib Dems and the switch from UKIP to Tories, Labour will get annihilated.
Labour’s position in 2015 was 30% despite losing votes to the SNP and UKIP (meaning we gained some voters from the Tories and a lot of votes from the Lib Dems). The Tory base position was 36%.
The reality for Labour is that a huge amount of support base is made up of pro-europe liberals. Most opinion polls show around 65% of Labour voters, voted to stay in the EU.
The latest opinion polls don’t bare thinking about if you are a Labour supporter, but they show that UKIP is down and Lib Dems are up from 2015.
I believe there has been a similar effect to the Scottish Independence referendum that squeezed Labour out. People associated their party vote with their referendum vote.
A similar thing has happened to the Labour Party. This election is an election the Lib Dems could wipe the floor with Labour.
Many people like John Curtice have pointed out what a danger to Labour the Lib Dems are. Many in Labour talk about the threat from UKIP but the real enemy is the Lib Dems.
As Curtice says, Labour "seems to have forgotten (or not realised) that most of those who voted Labour in 2015 – including those living in Labour seats in the North and the Midlands – backed remain. The party is thus at greater risk of losing votes to the pro-remain Liberal Democrats than to pro-Brexit Ukip".
If I was Jeremy Corbyn first of all I would point out that the Tories took us into a Brexit on the basis of a lie, whilst they’ve presided over the biggest collapse in public services in our history. Labour absolutely has to have some sort of pro EU position to appeal to its’ liberal base.
It also needs to promise to reskill the workforce, huge infrastructure spending and creating quality jobs to win back the voters it lost in the Blair years.
However Jeremy does it, he needs to deal with problems 1 and 2 and will lose very badly if he doesn’t. Whoever is leader needs to deal with this problem.
I am currently writing a series of very detailed articles in area that will be published as a series in the coming months.