Friday, 21 April 2017

A left wing “progressive alliance” would be a waste of time – especially for Labour

Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas: frenemies?
After Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election earlier this week, the Green Party invited leaders of Labour and the Liberal Democrats to discuss the possibility of a “progressive alliance”.

The Green Party co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley said the aim would be stopping “the Tories wrecking our country.”

Hoping for cooperation in some seats, the Greens see this as the only way of stopping another Conservative majority in the House of Commons. Exactly what the Greens have in mind is unclear.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon also called for an alliance to be made in order to keep the Tories out of power.

Regardless, a few hours later, Jeremy Corbyn ruled out any kind of agreement between the parties. This enraged many Labour supporters and even more people who simply don’t want to see the Conservatives return to power. However, Corbyn made the right decision. The pact would not have benefited the Labour party in any meaningful way nor would it have prevented another Conservative government.

The last time an electoral agreement (like what the Greens might have been proposing) was struck was the Gladstone-MacDonald pact in 1906. The Liberals and Labour worked together to ensure they were not splitting the anti-Conservative vote. They did this by only letting one of their candidates run in some seats. For anything like this to be successful in 2017, there would need to be more than one strong left-wing party. The Greens and Liberal Democrats currently only have 10 seats between them and are not even the second party in most Labour constituencies. UKIP are the party taking most votes from Labour – especially in the north of England.

If it did happen, the pact would undoubtedly weaken Labour. Even though the Lib Dems and Greens collectively got over 3.5 million votes in 2015, they did not manage to concentrate their support. Meanwhile, Labour received just over 9 million votes, won 232 seats, and has since grown into the largest party in Europe with regards to membership. The Labour party also has a superior internal structure and a more sophisticated organisation meaning any alliance formed would be far more beneficial to the Greens, SNP, and/or Liberal Democrats.

The possibility of a Labour coalition would work in favour of the Tory’s narrative. If you watched any PMQs before the 2015 general election you will remember David Cameron repeatedly taunting the Labour party; saying that they’d only ever get into power on “Alex Salmond’s coat-tails.”

If Labour made any kind of deal with the SNP specifically, it is likely one of the terms would be to guarantee a second Scottish independence referendum. As the New Statesman pointed out earlier this week, the SNP care primarily about independence. Moreover, if Scotland did leave the United Kingdom, Labour would stand no chance of being elected ever again.

Finally, and most importantly, a “progressive alliance” simply would not work. The maths does not add up. If you look at current polling data, the Conservatives are estimated to win a majority of approximately 100 seats so any sort of opposition alliance is a waste of time anyway. Unlike the EU referendum, the 2016 US election, and the current French elections where the polls were/are extremely close, the 2017 general election is a done deal. No sound minded person is predicting anything other than a Conservative majority so I think we should spend our time focusing on something worthwhile for the next 50 days. A new series of Doctor Who has just started. Wanna talk about that?