Labour modernisers are revolting and long-standing voters are abandoning the party as it seems set to elect the most left-wing leader in decades.
Internal party research suggests large numbers of traditional Labour voters defected to the Conservative party in the last election and are showing no signs of wanting to return, meaning they are now defeault Conservatives.The Guardian quotes one Labour source that says the party can no longer rely on their support and they will have to win them back, remarking the voters are “for the Tories to lose at the next election”.
The actual number of people involved in this migration of voters is actually relatively small – only two-per-cent of people who voted in May were Labour to Conservative defectors, but with the British electoral system set up to produce such close races, this change was all that was needed to swing the balance, in addition to the landslide changes in Scotland.
The internal party report, Listening to Labour’s Lost Voters, remarks:
“Suffice to say that the brand of Labour has been damaged massively by these voters’ inability to perceive [Ed Miliband] as a capable and competent prime minister. Their image of Labour as a political party with a leader that was open to derision clouded all their thinking about a renewed Labour party and what Labour needs from its next leader. These voters really struggled to imagine a Labour party with a strong, confident leader in the future.”
In a tremendous signal of faith in their own members and the democratic process, a group of Labour MPs are now so concerned that the upcoming leadership election will return veteran hard-leftist Jeremy Corbyn they are trying to prevent it from even going ahead. Originally included in the leadership ballot to “broaden debate”, uncompromising socialist Corbyn has struck a chord with the hardened-left element within the Labour party that the urbane London-centric parliamentary party would rather forget existed.
Ironic, as Corbyn is the long-standing member for Islington North, the centre of gravity for the left-wing world of kitchen suppers and champagne receptions.
Conservatives are delighted by Corbyn’s shortening odds to become leader, believing he will put Labour into opposition for another decade. There is even a group of Conservative Friends of Corbyn. One Labour MP has called the possibility “terrifying”.
With no reliable polling data on how the Labour contest will pan out, this may all be a little premature and could end up poisoning relationships within the party as the old left and new left wings tear stripes off each other in public. Still, it makes a difference to the ordinary business-as-usual of division on the right.
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