The Changing Nature of UK Politics

The Changing Nature of UK Politics

April 20th, 2016 // 4:53 pm @

jeremy-corbynThe election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party came as a shock to many, both inside the party and in the general population.

Since Mr Corbyn election many have talked of how to remove him from the leadership. This is based on the believe a Labour Party under his leadership is unlikely to win a General Election.

While his un electability is probably is probably correct, there is a much deeper change going on within the Labour movement in the UK, of which Mr Corbyn is a symptom not directly a cause.

Those of what are described as far left views were relatively silent when Tony Blair was Prime Minister because a labour government was in power, even one with more mainstream policies than the left would have liked. This relative silence continued with Ed Miliband as leader on the hope of regaining power.

Since the failure of Labour to win in 2015, party activists have taken a much more proactive role in setting Labour policy and direction.

Under the leadership rules used in 2015 the membership of the party has the greatest say in choosing the party leader. Those entitled to vote included members, affiliates and supporters, and the cost could be as little as three pounds to become a supporter. These rules were put forward as being democratic, but in reality were bound to produce a powerful left leaning party membership.

It is true in all political parties that those that join, attend meetings and take part in local parties tend to be those with more strongly felt political views than the majority, and they tend to be more extreme in their views either to the left or right.

Therefore it is the Labour activists who have chosen Mr Corbyn and if he were to retire tomorrow would likely pick someone of similar views.

One ends up with the odd situation where Mr Corbyn does not have the support of the majority of Labour MP’s, but does have the support of party members. This will inevitably put severe pressure on many Labour MP’s who will be pressured by their local party and their leadership to support left wing views they may not agree with or deem likely to help them win a general election.

Labour has been here before, it took a sharp turn to the left in the early 1980’s leading to the breakaway of several senior members to the SDP, and to the disastrous election results of 1983.

The UK Labour Party is not alone in having members choose a leader who shares their views but may be unelectable in a General Election. The US Republican Party under pressure from the right wing Tea Party, has via a vote of its members state by state chosen leaders who proven unelectable. Mit Romney was forced to take right wing stances on several key issues to gain the party nomination, these positions made him winning the general election extremely difficult.

If as seems possible the Republican Party will chooses Donald Trump as its Presidential nominee. It is probable that many traditional Republicans will not only not vote for him, but parts of the party may not even campaign for him.

Many Republican Senators and Congressmen will either have to support Mr Trumps outlandish policies and the damage that will cause to their own electoral ambitions or try and distance themselves from their Party Leader as picked by party members. A good number of Labour MP’s are going to find themselves in a similarly painful situation, caught between a far left leadership and local party, their own convictions, and their desire to remain MP’s.

The UK labour party is likely to go through a decade of painful electoral defeats until it either changes its rules on choosing a leader, or many more mainstream voters join the party to make party membership more accurately reflect the general public.

The likely outcome of this is the Conservatives will be in power for the coming decade, but parties without a strong opposition tend to have their own problems.

When a party has a big majority and a weak opposition, the ruling part looses internal discipline and fights within itself, rather than focusing on the opposition. John Major’s government of the early 1990’s was plagued by internal fighting, driven by a weak opposition, and over confidence amongst MP’s that they would keep their seats in any general election.

What we are seeing now with the labour party goes way beyond Jeremy Corbyn as an individual, it is a very significant move to the left, which will probably continue to be more extreme in the short term as the activists exercise their power to choose Leaders, and candidates for parliamentary seats.

It is not impossible we will see Labour MP’s deselected by their own local party if they are not seen to be left wing enough.

The future of the Labour Party with its present power structure is likely to be painful as the electorate reject far left policies, and while it goes through this process it will fail, as it is failing now to provide a strong opposition which good government needs.

The country needs a strong Labour Party, which sadly we will not have for the foreseeable future.

 

 


Category : Blog &Other Thoughts

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