Since a snap general election has been called by Theresa May, the Labour party has been in a state of shock. For starters, the Labour party is currently 24 points behind the Conservatives in the latest YouGov Poll. As they scramble to put together a manifesto to fight this election on, progressives from across the political left have floated the idea of a progressive alliance between the Labour Party, SNP, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.
This coalition of voters is potentially more threatening than the Miliband plan to ally with the SNP. This time, the idea of an alliance like this attacks the idea of Brexit. The Liberal Democrats, Greens, SNP and the majority of the parliamentary Labour Party oppose Brexit. Yet if this alliance were to combine votes and win power, they would be expected to deliver Brexit. Either that or the Brexit process goes out the window altogether. A political alliance such as this, is becoming ever more likely as Labour continues to tank in the polls.
Corbyn (attempting to put minds at rest) ruled out a deal with the SNP. However in 2015, Corbyn’s spokesperson said “Jeremy would definitely talk with the SNP”. For a candidate running on the value of integrity, like Jeremy Corbyn is, he is surprisingly open to flippant political maneuvering. He attacks Theresa Mays decision to hold a General Election in the national interest, saying the decision was politically motivated. At the same time he’s contemplating politically motivated alliances to try and overturn the support of the Conservative Party. Do not be fooled by Jeremy Corbyn, while he may look like a bumbling idiot, I’m sure Labour Party strategists are doing much of the work for him and are plotting under hand tactics to steal the election.
The natural response to this kind of alliance would be a potential political pact between UKIP and the Conservatives to counter the threat from the ‘progressive’ left. The Conservatives currently have 48% in the polls, while UKIP are at 7%. A combination of UKIP voters and Conservative voters would total a pro-Conservative majority of 55% of the electorate. Undoubtedly this would lead to an electoral landslide as UKIP voters in the North of England could put the Conservatives over the winning line.
Problems with this strategy are likely to appear though, because many UKIP supporters have already switched to the Conservatives after Brexit, and the remaining UKIP supporters are likely dis-enfranchised Labour voters who would never vote for the Tories. Therefore, it is unlikely that the 7% that vote UKIP would switch to the Conservatives. Nevertheless, the Conservatives still benefit because Labour voters voting UKIP splits the Labour vote, not the Conservative vote.
Even without an electoral pact between UKIP and the Conservatives, the Tories still enjoy a plurality of support among the electorate. Tony Blair won 43% of the vote for New Labour in the 1997 General Election, winning an electoral landslide of 418 seats. According to polls today, Theresa May will win 48% of the vote, much more than Blair ever did, so we must be prepared to a truly massive Conservative majority, right? Wrong.
Pollsters have urged caution. While the Conservatives may be well ahead in the popular vote, landslides come from flipping seats and winning in constituencies. The Labour vote tends to be concentrated in the areas that it wins seats, meaning it is easier for Labour to win seats with less popular support- due to the fact that Labour tends to do better in populated urban areas while the Conservatives control rural areas. An electoral landslide may be more difficult for Theresa May to achieve. Despite this, marginal midlands seats are under serious threat; seats like Edgbaston where Vote Leave chair, Gisela Stuart, is stepping down. A swing of a few percentage points could paint the midlands blue and deliver historic wins for the Conservatives. Walsall for example has voted Labour since the 1970s but is in play this election.
A path to victory is very narrow for Corbyn. Even with a progressive alliance of parties, traditional Lib Dem voters for example may be drawn to the Conservatives in fear of more hard left parties like the SNP. In order to win elections under First Past The Post, middle England is a must-win. Corbyn claims he can raise the turnout enough and inspire new voters to propel him to victory. However it is unlikely there is the scope in the midlands to provide the kind of turnout he will need to overcome the large lead the Conservatives currently have. To complicate things, the right wing press are staunchly opposed to Corbyn’s Labour Party. Significantly, the voice of middle England, The Daily Mail, openly supports Brexit and clearly promotes Theresa Mays pitch to voters.
Labour supporters should not despair yet though. There is always the possibility that the polls are once again, wrong. Corbyn could shock the world and defy the polls to win the election and revive socialism. Though, realism trumps optimism and the sad reality for socialists is all the data is pointing towards a big Conservative win.
Theresa May could still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, a reversal of the triple lock could see pensioners and traditional Tory voters abstain this election, handing the victory to Corbyn. She needs to tread carefully to keep her own party and her own supporters together. Fractures in the Tory base of support could lead to Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn, and nobody wants that. A recent poll asked the question “Who would make the better Prime Minister, Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn?”– ‘Dont know’ scored higher than Jeremy Corbyn. The Conservatives need to stay smart, because if they throw this election away, the ramifications for the British people would be disastrous.