All the evidence so far would point the fact that a working, credible alternative to the Neo-Liberalism promoted by Thatcher, Major, Major and Brown has not yet firmly taken root in the mind of the Electorate.
Ed Miliband has declared many times that New Labour is dead. He has also vocalised the idea of good businesses and bad businesses. Recent months have seen the largest public sector strikes over changes to the pension arrangement for a long time. The Occupy movement has been campaigning in financial centres across the world against the excesses of global finance and capitalism.
However, these strands have not come together, so the left has failed to produce a clear coherent platform to challenge the Conservative-led Coalition.
Firstly, due to the nature of our electoral system (FPTP), a focus must be made of the Labour Party. The only way to form a Government is get around 40% of the vote across the nation. FPTP results in big tent parties, squeezing out smaller ones.
I would argue strongly that falling turnouts demonstrate that the traditional two-party state we have is dying. Fewer and fewer people identify with Labour or the Conservatives, as the class system that was in place for much of the twentieth century is dead.
We are a more diverse nation in every respect, and so we must change our electoral system to recognise this. I believe that proportional representation should be introduced.
If Labour wants to lead the fight for the left, it must promise PR in it’s first term of Government. Supporters of smaller parties could be encouraged to lend their vote in return for the introduction of PR. If Labour wants to act as the only voice of left, it will fail.
If Labour will not accept PR, and wants to retain the advantage they have under FPTP, then they are as doomed as the Conservatives in the long run. We will see lower and lower turnouts, as the two-party FPTP state nose-dives into terminal decline.
So far the Labour Leadership has been dismissive of the Occupy movement, and lukewarm to strikes. Based on How Britain Voted in 2010 by Ipsos Mori, around 6.5 m people under 35 did not vote, and neither did 8.6 m from the social classes of C2 and DE. To get the votes required to win an election, targeting these groups would be very productive. Labour must not just concentrate on the Blairite route of appealing to soft Conservatives and floating voters. The key is appealing to non-voters, as it is these who are suffering the most under the Coalition, and will be more receptive to change. Why would they support a system that has done them no favours?
Secondly, the left needs clearer, bolder messages. To facilitate this I propose a working party of leaders from the left. This could be Labour, The Greens, Unions, possibly student groups too and other organisations. They should generate a broad set of principles of what an alternative to Neo-Liberalism should achieve. Each group involved could then use these principles to guide their individual policies. If a group signed up to these principles generates a new policy, it should ask if it is in the spirit of these principles. If it isn’t it should seriously consider not doing it.
This would not result in identical policies, but a similar direction of travel. This would be useful as such an activity would assist when PR is in operation. These principles should be well publicised.
The fight against Neo-Liberalism will be hard, as those keen to maintain it have the most resources. They will fight hard and dirty, as they have a lot to lose.
The left needs to work closely and co-operatively to have the best chance of success.
For the sake of the 99%, the left must succeed.
I agree with most of what you say. A form of PR is undoubtedly something which would benefit liberal, progressive parties, (not least because the current system is one of the reasons the Tories have tended to remain a single electoral force and not split along business and country lines as has often happened in Europe, or effectively become the party of the centre as in France).
There are als precidents for this, with Charter 88 and the Charter for a Scottish Parliament both attracting the support of representative bodies from across the left. But here too, is the rub. Labour in particular (though I point no fingers here: clearly the Lib Dems are a case in point) tend only to enter into such principaled covenants when they are denied a viable chance of Power.Both the examples I gave were to some extent triggered by feelings of impotance at the height of the Lawson Boom of the late 80’s.
At present, I can’t see Labour endoursing PR again for at least two electoral cycles, and even then, only if they loose both, because they stand a reasonable chance of squeezing the Liberal Vote out and either forming the Government, or a strong Opposition.
This is a real shame in my view, but not altogether unsurprising.
Really Glad I found your page, BTW.
Thank you for commenting.
I really hope you are wrong, but fear you are right.
It would involve Labour really giving up a massive free bonus they get every election. Turkeys rarely vote for Christmas. In this case it would take an act of giving up this bonus every election for the greater good.
How deep in the benevolence of Labour MPs for a better democracy?
“the class system that was in place for much of the twentieth century is dead.”
I really don’t agree with this. Some of the trappings of class may have changed, but the old line-up of bourgeoisie versus proletariat is still there, whatever labels one chooses to use.