Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, May 08, 2017

Single party politics in the UK?

The speculation is this analysis from The Washington Post suggests that the coming election might signal the death of the Labour Party.

After hard-left turn under Jeremy Corbyn, Britain’s Labour Party on course for historic defeat
In 2015, Britain’s Labour Party tacked to the left, repudiating the middle-way philosophy that had won it three elections under Tony Blair. Voters responded by handing the party its worst defeat in three decades.

Rather than scramble back toward the center, Labour lurched further left. The party elected as its leader Jeremy Corbyn, a white-bearded baby boomer from the back benches who, like Bernie Sanders in the United States, ignited an improbable movement among young activists…

Now, with less than six weeks to go before Britain votes once more, the Corbyn-led Labour Party is on course for an electoral beatdown so broad and deep it would make the drubbing the party took in 2015 look like a triumph.

The ruling Conservative Party has a double-digit lead over Labour in pre-election polls…

Corbyn may have captured the hearts of left-wing true believers. But unless something dramatic changes before June 8, when Britain votes, that’s not enough to win a national election…

“Labour is the party of the industrial proletariat — that was its original function. But Britain doesn’t have an industrial proletariat anymore,” Martin Baxter, a political analyst who runs Britain’s Electoral Calculus website said of a party that traces its roots to 1900 and the workers’ rights movements of factory-saturated northern England. “So there’s a big question as to what the Labour Party is for.”…

To his enthusiastic backers — who delivered the north London lawmaker a pair of landslide victories in party leadership races — Corbyn’s prescription for Britain is exactly what the country needs.

“I love him — best leader ever,” said Richard Crook, a 57-year-old telephone engineer from southeast London who cheered Corbyn on at the lawmaker’s campaign kickoff. “We’ve all had enough of PR politics. We want the truth…"

But there’s no getting around the fact that the polls for Labour are dire. The Tories now have a working majority of 17 in the 650-member House of Commons. Projections — which no doubt influenced May’s decision to call the snap vote — show that could widen to 150 or more.

The gains are forecast across the U.K.

In Wales, where the Conservatives haven’t won in nearly a century, a recent survey showed them leading. In Scotland, where Labour ran a virtual one-party fiefdom until the 2015 vote, the party is now a distant third…

If Labour does lose in a rout, Corbyn may be forced to resign as party leader. The party could also split apart.

Whether that happens or not, the center-left the world over will have to work out what it stands for and stop re-litigating internal battles that date back decades, said Stewart Wood, a Labour member of the House of Lords…

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