Labour did nothing to change the First Past the Post voting system in 13 years of power. Now it is reaping the eternal whirlwind, something I predicted while a member of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform over 20 years ago. In 1955, over 95% of voters chose Conservative or Labour. In 2015 it had fallen to 65%. The number of marginal Lab/Con Con/Lab seats had fallen from 166 to 108 (out of 650) in the same period. In 2015, it only took 25,000 votes to elect each SNP MP, 34,000 each Tory, 40,000 each Labour, 300,000+ each Lib Dem, 1.2m+ each Green and 3m+ each UKIP. The system cannot and does not guarantee a clear winner (coalition 2010) nor a government with any legitimacy (Tories with 37% of vote share in 2015). The SNP is the biggest winner under our voting system and Labour paid a very high price for its 1.3 decades of inaction.
Two seismic events have hit Labour. Firstly it has lost Scotland (40 seats down, no sign of getting them back). Secondly, it bled out votes to UKIP in its heartlands in 2015 and worse looks like losing most of those votes to the Tories in 2017. The Party has been bitterly and very publicly divided between the majority of the PLP and the membership backed leadership team. Voters never like supporting publicly divided parties. Kinnock lost in 1992, Major definitely did not ‘win’ it.
In my opinion, the General Election will be Labour’s last as a united party and I predict Labour will lose badly. Our country needs wide constitutional and electoral reform. It needs coalition and consensus politics not the Zero Sum Game rubbish we are being fed post EURef. We won’t get it. We will get a Bluekip Government, a One Party State that will shrink to England and Wales and a dividing / fragmenting progressive opposition in disarray. It is too late to change it. They won, we lost. They are not going to give us our ball back. Bleating on about other principled political parties is not going to help, it’s just a symptom of the Two Party disease that has afflicted our country for too long.
I have never been a quitter, always a fighter with decades of political struggle behind me. In June 2016, a 4% majority decided to inflict lasting damage on our country and hand it over the right on a plate. Between 2015 and 2017, the Labour Party put itself before our country. In 2019, I predict that Scotland will vote narrowly to break away from Brexit rumpUK and that a tragic return to a social and political crisis will be developing in Northern Ireland.
I implore Labour Party activists and supporters not to speak harshly of other parties. Quietly behind the scenes, a lot has happened. Where I live, Our local Green Party decided to only select one out of a possible three candidates. The Labour MP in one of the two seats we decided not to contest kept thanking us for standing aside. Our pityful 1200 votes in 2015 may just be enough to help him hold his marginal seat. It was done and privately communicated to the local Labour Party, no public fanfare and no publicity seeking. Labour could learn a little humility itself from this process.
For the first time in my life, I’m thinking of buying and retreating into a polytunnel. Sure it will help me to grow more of the produce that will getting more expensive in the shops as Brexit indiscriminately bites into us all whether we voted for it or not. Most importantly, I can try to lose myself in there and forget the nightmare that appears to be unfolding all around me. Perhaps I will emerge with my crops to find out it was nothing more than that. Or maybe I’ll choose to stay in there so I never have to find out.