Conservative voters aren’t evil. They aren’t bad people. We need to listen to why they rejected us

by Tom Clements

I hate anecdotes. I hate how people from all parts of the political spectrum use them to highlight their arguments. I hated how Jeremy Paxman used one to eviscerate Ed’s apparent weakness on foreign policy.

But here’s mine.

One of my closest friends was talking to me about Labour’s defeat. He is a stereotypical Labour-Tory swing voter. Wanting social justice but also wanting to do well for himself. He asked me what we offered people in his position. People who aren’t super rich but are, god willing, never going to experience the hardship of food banks or the benefits trap.

He voted Conservative because we had nothing to say to him.

If you were me you might have accused him of being selfish and argued that he should want the same opportunities for the next generation. You might have screamed at him about his inability to see the bigger picture for our society. You might have appealed to his compassion for the working people forced to choose between heating and eating.

But you would have been wrong.

Not that your ideas were wrong or that these aren’t very real concerns that our party should be attempting to tackle. But it is the wrong argument to make.

Of course people don’t want to see the number of food banks increasing or hear stories of the latest inhumane example of a vulnerable victim of the Bedroom Tax. However, they want to be certain that their living standards are going to be protected first.

The voters in England had a choice between a safety first Conservative government, albeit with obvious problems; or a Labour party that was prepared to risk the house on the gamble that Britain wanted a return to Keynes. They made their choice. We ran an election on a message of family finances and the simple truth is that people didn’t trust us with theirs.

It is up to the next leader of our party to ensure that this does not happen again. To ensure that people don’t have to decide between a party that will protect their family’s future and a party that will create a more just country.

People that vote Conservative aren’t evil. They aren’t immune to the social ills that have fractured our country nor are they unconcerned. They vote Conservative when they don’t trust Labour with their economic future.

That is why it is essential that the next leader offers middle income, aspirant voters the certainty that their jobs, their living standards and the economy will be protected. They want us to show that we understand their ambition. That we understand the importance of creating wealth and helping people to provide a great life and great opportunities for their family.

It is only then that we will earn the right to be listened to.  Then we will have earned the right to campaign against the non-dom rule or fight for an increase to the minimum wage. Because until we regain that right to be heard, those on middle incomes will wonder why the Labour Party insists on defending the rights and living standards of the people at the bottom instead of people like them. They will continue to ask what Labour is offering them.

We cannot be in a position to deliver the fair and equal society that we all want without the crucial votes of these voters. We cannot deliver the fair and equal society without the wealth created by these voters.

This year we failed. We alienated these voters and paid the price at the polls.

Too often our rhetoric veers between attacking vested interests and promising to improve the lives of the poorest in our society. Whilst these are incredibly important issues, this is not the kind of message that will win us an election. Robin Hood politics cannot work without the promise of prosperity for middle income families.

But as much as we bemoan our failure and our defeat; it is nothing compared to the defeat and the suffering that will be endured by the very people that need a Labour government. That is why it is so vital that we make the really tough decisions now.

And this doesn’t mean holding our noses whilst we pay lip service to the importance of business and the need for producers instead of producers. We must really mean it. We must offer real policies to appeal to business, to appeal to aspirational voters, to appeal to the middle class.

We cannot go into another election offering social justice without economic competence. Offering to soak the rich to help the poor all the while ignoring the middle class. It was what New Labour realised and we won three times. For thirteen years people’s lives were improved and Britain became better.

We didn’t do enough about inequality.  And there was plenty more we didn’t do besides. But can you really walk past the school that was rebuilt or be treated at the hospital that was revitalised or see the amount of new graduates without admitting that it was worth it?

This year we tried to move on from New Labour and put right the things we missed. We offered more homes and an improved minimum wage and an end to the Bedroom Tax. It was a really positive, socially democratic offer. But we appealed to the party and the already converted so we missed the cornerstone of successful progressive politics.

We can’t afford to make the same mistakes again.

Socially progressive policies can only be delivered through economic prosperity. The next leader must fight for this every day of their leadership. We must be trusted us to deliver an improved economy.

We weren’t in May. We weren’t with Ed. That is why Nuneaton, Pudsey and Battersea stayed blue with a swing away from Labour. And that is why David Cameron won a majority.

So our task is clear: we must spend every day until the next general election regaining our reputation for economic competence. Without making the difficult choices now we will never be in a position to make the changes we all want to see. We could end the Bedroom Tax, we could create better jobs, we could create a living wage and we could make sure that all children had the chance to succeed regardless of their background.

Or we could make the easy choices.  And there will still be the bedroom tax, there will still be injustice, our human rights will be dictated by Michael Gove and there will be nothing we can do about it.

Tom Clements is a history and politics teacher in Leeds

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36 Responses to “Conservative voters aren’t evil. They aren’t bad people. We need to listen to why they rejected us”

  1. John. P Reid says:

    Yvette is backing a return of the 50p rate, I’m with Tom Harris in this one, ‘I was dead against it when introduced, dead against it when it was scrapped’, but in time ,should be got rid of as 40p is the line curve, where the amount of tax, matches go quick the economy grow to create jobs

  2. GTE says:

    we must spend every day until the next general election regaining our reputation for economic competence. Without making the difficult choices now we will never be in a position to make the changes we all want to see. We could end the Bedroom Tax,


    Since its not a tax, you’ve blown your reputation for economic competence.

    It’s a subsidy for spare bedrooms.

  3. Madasafish says:

    So our task is clear: we must spend every day until the next general election regaining our reputation for economic competence.

    Sorry. Words are cheap. Actions speak louder.

    Unless the Conservatives screw up the economy in a big way, you are not going to gain a reputation for economic competence .

    You are in a classic Catch 22 situation. You won’t be elected without a reputation for economic competence. And you can’t get that without governing. Normally that is.

    Gordon Brown and Tony Blair recognised that and took actions long before they were elected. You don’t appear to remember what they did.. so you appear doomed to failure by not learning lessons from the past.

    My lessons form the past are simply this… NO Labour Government in my long lifetime has ever left office with its reputation for economic competence enhanced. Everyone has left office with its reputation for economic competence destroyed.

    What you write of actions are frankly meaningless trite phrases which bear no relation to economic reality. And if that is what Labour thinks it needs o do, it’s a recipe for failure..

    You need to create an environment to encourage skilled job creation. Governments cannot create jobs. They can only create an environment. And skilled jobs are the only ones that will give higher wages.


    And any party which has Ed Balls or anyone who worked alongside him or with him in a Financial role is not going to be economically competent..

  4. @anniesec says:

    I will keep on saying – we need to look at why the Tories won, not just why Labour lost. But I am not yet convinced those who moved to Tories were just loking for economics competence.

  5. Helen says:

    Whose living standards did Labour protect when they bailed out the banks?

  6. Michaelworcs says:

    Most of the election policies were deflections from answering the question.
    Will Labour reduce immigration ? Flint agreed that the policies would not make a difference to the numbers (plus only EU migration was discussed ). The endless scandals at Labour run councils eg Rotherham also gave a fear that the incompetence seen due to misguided fears would spill into government. The scandals seems to be increasing if anything, did the leadership do anything to clean up the rotten councils run in their name?
    Will Labour reverse the cuts? – only the bedroom tax (which actually is freeing up larger homes for homeless or more crowded families so was a poor choice in terms of fairness)
    Tax and Spending – the 50p rate was introduced as a trap for the Conservatives at the last few fag end years of Browns tenure. It was never going to raise much tax. Reducing spending were needed plans in the election whereas the Conservatives were able to wing it based on their record, Labour was not also due to Brown’s excessive spending during the boom years eg cash for clunkers, setting up poverty traps
    housing – more promises backed by a poor record (plus dodgy going on in TH)
    Almost every policy area needed attention. A clean break from the Brown era is needed. Miliband was Browns aid, Ed wrote his speeches . Perhaps the problem was that the defeat in 2005 was too close so that it could be argued that a change of leader would be enough . The 2010 defeat is so conclusive that changing for yet another Brown era leader is folly.
    Every interview on programmes like DP were a drubbing due to poor preparation and not thinking out policies (plus four years of a blank page of policy) with a few notable exceptions.
    I really hope that the same mistakes are not made

  7. Amazed says:

    Astonished by the blindness of this article. To the uncommitted voter it was labour that came over as the “nasty party” yet Labour voters are not evil. A campaign based on divisiveness and petty vindictiveness which set 35% of the voters against the rest and promoted taxes in order to punish class enemies rather than raise revenue, did not deserve to succeed. It was also against the noble traditions of the founders of the party and surprising that it got as many votes as it did.

  8. Q97 says:

    As a conservative voter, I agree. But the problem isn’t just what you promise – it’s how you oppose as well.

    Give meaningful opposition. Vote for things which are actually good. Add meaningful, not wrecking amendments. Purpose alternatives now, not in a manifesto in 4 years time.

    I got to the election, looked at what labour had done – opposed just about everything for the last 5 years – and walked away. In 5 years I couldn’t think of a single positive thing labour had done.

    /end rant. Should probably just write a blog post on this and stop trying to convince people.

  9. woodsy42 says:

    GTE is quite correct. It’s not a tax it’s a withdrawal of subsidy. But it IS a tax – it’s a part of the tax burden on exactly those aspiring self-financing people trying to pay mortgages and bring up their families on basic (out of London) average incomes without help from benefits.
    Now I would agree there is an unfairness in the way it was applied. It should not have been used as a suddenly imposed penalty against people who are invested in their home and community to try and force them out. I would agree that it should not be used in cases where there are no smaller houses available or where good reason exists for need another room (forces personel, medical equipment etc).
    However there is still a basic unfairness in asking struggling self-supporting families to subsidise benefit receiving families to provide a facility they themselves can’t afford. Until you realise that basic unfairness and change your language they will not vote for you.

  10. Matt Moore says:

    Hi – You think you have stepped beyond the normal Left worldview of selfless socialism vs selfish capitalism, but you haven’t gone half way yet.

    It isn’t necessarily that your anecdotal voter doesn’t “care” as much about the poor (although he may spend less time aggressively signalling just how much he cares on social media).

    Please please please try to understand this: Tory voters think that the long run way to help the very poorest is exactly through free-market approaches. They don’t see any decision as a trade-off between middle-class prosperity and working-class prosperity. It’s not a war.

    Saying “we need to understand that Tory voters are a bit selfish” is just more patronising self-righteous nonsense. Try “we need to understand that intent is not outcome, what matters is what works, and there are a lot of policies that improve the lot of the poorest that are not found in traditional socialist approaches”

    I don’t vote Tory, by the way.

  11. Matt Moore says:

    PS. Since most Conservative voters pay more in tax than they received in services, and most Labour voters receive more services that they pay in tax, aren’t both groups equally self-interested? Both vote for the party that offers them the most value.

  12. Brown badger says:

    So why doesn’t Labour do what it usually does….persuade the electorate that they will support the ‘squeezed middle”s aspirations, and once in power, hit them with every possible tax. Drag everyone down to a low common denominator.

  13. Ex Labour says:

    Of course the issue of bash the bankers, rich, anyone who had aspiration or those who worked hard played negatively for labour. One of the main reasons for this was the utter hypocrisy from the Labour front bench. Many of these people are millionaires such as Miliband and Hodge. I always thought that Hodge spoke with forked tongue:

    The woman has no shame.

    And there was Ed M of course and his Deed of Variation on the will to lower the tax on the family house.

    Labour need to face some clear messages from the public about tax, welfare costs, immigration, aspiration and many more already mentioned. Until such time, there will be no rebound.

    Watson now says Labour didnt spend to much under Broon. Who has control of these people and what they are saying ? Economic competence anyone ?

  14. william says:

    You could, of course, vote for either Burnham or Cooper, as leader, and ensure the final destruction of the Labour party,as an electoral force to be taken seriously.

  15. William says:

    All anyone needs to know about Labours economic competence is the following:

    Gordon Brown increased the cost of the welfare state from 34% of GDP to 51%. He has sentenced at least two generations of taxpayers to penury to sort this out.

  16. Simon Roberts says:

    Why would any working British person vote for Labour? Blair flooded the country with cheap foreign labour and demonised anyone who complained as ‘racist’.

    It hasn’t affected the professional classes, but blue-collar workers have seen their earnings eroded massively over the past twenty years.

    Labour’s answer has been to pretend that low-paid immigrants benefit the economy (well, I suppose they do give you cheaper nannies), to blame unscupulous employers, to blame British people for not being prepared to work for slave wages or to try to ignore the issue altogether.

    Until Labour wakes up and starts representing British people again – and that means putting British workers’ interests before the interests of immigrants – they can forget being elected.

  17. Jimbo says:

    I think that many Labour supporters fail to understand that social justice is not purely the preserve of the left of British politics. There are plenty of conservatives that believe in social justice they merely go about things in a different way not believing that the state has all the answers. Arguably, the reform of the benefits system to make work pay has been truly progressive and highly effective at getting people back into work. If the left continue to believe that all conservative voters are selfish and cruel they will be consigned to a very long period in opposition

  18. John P Reid says:

    Helen, anyone with money or a Mortgage at northern rock, or those who work for them?

    Matt Moore define services hat come from Tax, middle class people are more likely to need he police to stop endless burglars ,robbing them,but see less police per square mile than working class people, yet it’s not recognized they need the police more tan anyone else

    Regarding immigration, John .mann said it, labour won’t win again unless, we renegotiate with the EU to stop our jobs going, if not we’ll have to leave.

    Amazed, there are some very selfish people in the party, some MPs who have far left members who run their constituencies, know they’ll be deselected if they speak out,so pretend to have far left views, they’re quite happy for region to dish out miney to sponsor unions in strike, yet won’t give money to non target areas who need help at council elections, they end up spending other people’s money, it’s amazing the amount of Ed backers, in safe seats who are backing Yvette now, she’s going to deliver Labour about the same result as Ed did, but those in the safe seats won’t care ,if it happens as they’ll keep their seats,and Us In the marginals, who won’t get elected if she becomes leader, will have yo see years more of opposition.

    Ex labou, when Hodge was voting for 42 day detention she wouldn’t like to have been reminded of her anti authority views in the 1980’s

  19. Phil Swindon says:

    This is why Labour lost:

    10% more voters despised the Labour Party more than they despised the Tory party, but don’t forget the public generally despise all politicians and politics. 35% of people hate mainstream politicians to the extent that they voted for parties that had no hope of real power. A large section of the population couldn’t be bothered to vote at all. The fact that politicians are lying, venal, unpleasant, duplicitous people that we would cross the street to avoid is a big reason for not voting for them. Imagine the votes Labour might harness if it could resist the temptation of lying, cheating and smearing thus seizing the moral high-ground? How many votes are lost because Labour say “We are not nasty!” when they quite clearly are as nasty as all the others?

    Equality: This goes to the heart of socialism. Socialism believes in relentless equality. However, 50% of the population buy lottery tickets. Most of them are at the bottom half of the social ladder. Do you think they believe in “equality”? Seems to me they want to get stinking rich and stand head and shoulders above everybody else. “Equality” won’t fly with the public – they don’t like the sound of it and consequently they won’t vote in favour of it. Unfortunately this does mean that socialism will always be unpopular in the UK.

    The bedroom tax/subsidy: This is one of those issues that shows how out of touch Labour and its activists are. Most poor people don’t get council houses. They have to rent from private landlords and they get housing benefit to allow them to do so. That housing benefit is dependent on the size of house they need. In other words they don’t get the luxury of spare bedrooms. Consequently, even Labour’s own core vote do not understand why Labour insist that some people that happen to get lucky with a council house should have the luxury of a spare bedroom.

    Foodbanks: Very few people use foodbanks, consequently most ordinary voters don’t have even an indirect experience of people using them. They likely believe that the majority of those using them are the kind of vagabonds and ne’er-do-wells that do such things as fail to turn up to Job Center interviews. They don’t care about them. Because politicians and activists lie 99% of the time they don’t believe anything Labour or anybody else has to say on the matter either. This is also one of those issues that Labour actitivists are given as a “line to take” and have promulgated on the web widely – in fact it is likely mere propaganda but the activists seems to have ended up believing in it. You cannot build a better future on a foundation of lies – so when Labour starts believing its own lies it is deep in trouble.

    Tax the rich, give to the poor: Most ordinary people only experience the rich indirectly – so they think of the rich as Adele, Richard Branson, Simon Cowell, James Dyson, Frank Lampard and so on. They think of “the poor” as defined by Labour as the fat cow that stands at the school gates at 3pm bragging about how much bennies she’s claiming and laughing at those foolish enough to work. “Tax the rich give to the poor” is a difficult policy to justify and once again shows how out of touch Labour has become and why it is perceived to be the Benefits Party. People in work, particularly those that refuse to claim any kind of benefits (remember that the uptake of tax credits was very low – because ordinary people don’t actually agree with them) just don’t see the sense in this policy and feel excluded from the entire transaction.

    Immigration: not mentioned in the article but it was a huge issue. Although the NHS trumped it in terms of importance with the voters, it was the one issue where there was clear water between the parties policies. Everybody hates immigration, everybody. no point in lying to yourselves about it. Ordinary people have worked out that Labour are using it to import more of their own voters (losing the existing core vote in the process) and they also realise that the Tories don’t intend to do anything about it. This is why they despise all mainstream politicians. Ordinary people have also worked out that these immigrants are not “highly skilled” – they are working in KFC on a minimum wage and claiming all manner of benefits. They know this because they work alongside them. There is no point in lying to ordinary people about such things – they know better than some middle-class Labour politician with faux compassion that knows nothing of such things. Once again Labour are believing their own propaganda on this one.

    Economic competence: This is what puts Labour out of power for decades. Labour cannot help but run up huge debts, thus undoing any good work they did whilst in power by forcing their voters to pay a heavy price when the party is over. The solution is quite simple and wise. Make a manifesto commitment to hand control over government debt to the Bank of England. Government spending should be matched by taxation except at times of national emergency. No more credit booms followed by a debt deflation “bust”. Labour won’t do it, of course, because they know they will make promises they can’t keep and will need debt to paper over the cracks. Once again, this is why we despise politicians.

    Britain needs a party of “the left” i.e the poorer people, but it doesn’t need Marx-inspired socialism and it doesn’t need the Benefits Party. Those of us that have been around a long time have seen the country get worse as Labour has created a client state of benefits recipients and unskilled immigrants. Its depressing. voting Labour does not offer hope – it offers more of the same. They are part of the problem, not the solution. This country will never be a Sweden because Labour doesn’t believe in social responsibility the way that Swedish socialists do. Labour doesn’t believe in “tough love” for welfare recipients to ensure that they move back to the mainstream and contribute, or failing that will find their children removed from them and placed with a family that can look after them properly – you may not believe this but that is what they do in Sweden, put relentless pressure on those that fall behind to keep up. Labour can’t do what the Swedes do because it sounds a bit cruel – so they let everything slide instead which ultimately is far more cruel. Labour believes in frittering away the cash year by year so the nation has nothing to show for it. No improvement in the built environment that we can all share, for instance. One of the richest countries in the world is a festering hole of decaying buildings, third world social problems, violent crime so endemic that nobody even bothers to report it anymore and dysfunctional families. These problems are always worse where Labour has most power. Ordinary people living amongst this festering decay and dysfunction need left-wing solutions to those problems – but real solutions, not just throwing money at the very people causing those problems, because that is what is making those problems worse. Labour is likely not the solution, however, because as far as I and everyone else can see Labour is intending to feed on the problems it is itself creating. It actually believes it can feed forever on the decay and dysfunction it has made. Well the last election showed that likely isn’t true, because the SNP and even UKIP are looking to give the people an alternative, and many are seizing that alternative even though real power is a long way away – they would rather vote for no-hopers than risk electing Labour again.

    There are a lot of good, genuine, genuinely compassionate people in Labour that know what they are about. They need to split away from the now defunct Labour organisation and set about creating a new left-wing party unfettered by the chains of Labour’s socialist history. Labour has become the “Big Brother” that Orwell warned us about. It is exactly the unfeeling, uncaring dehumanising organisation that was predicted in “1984”. The organisation rejects those that no longer believe in it and promotes those that swallow the defunct Labour ethos hook-line-and sinker. It has become a monster that needs to be destroyed.

  20. Tafia says:

    aspiring self-financing people trying to pay mortgages and bring up their families on basic (out of London) average incomes without help from benefits.

    These aspiring self-financing people you mention. Would they be the same ones that are benefits junkies relying on free childcare, tax credits and child benefit?

  21. Ex labour says:

    @ john p Reid

    I’m not aware of Hodge’s background, but my point is rather that labours attitude was really the politics of envy. They thought appealing to the lowest decile would put them back in power. Epic fail – because most of the public are the strivers that labour forgot. Secondly, openly antagonising businessmen and bankers in select committee with the likes of Hodge at the helm with the accusations regarding her personal and family company tax provisions was breathtaking hypocrisy, which the public can see, we are not stupid. Labour thought their Robin Hood politics was progressive, but how can you tax the squeezed middle and lower earners and then give it to the feckless and work shy ? Labour bang on about fairness but it’s really about jealousy.

  22. Dougie says:

    Sorry Tom but I had to laugh when I read “we must spend every day until the next general election …”. The problem is that voters knew a Labour Government would be spending – uncontrollably – every day after the election.

  23. GasMan says:

    I was made redundant in April and my wife is in the front line of the NHS. On the one hand we could vote Labour in anticipation of increased benefits and increased NHS pay. On the other hand we could vote Conservative in anticipation that they would improve the economy and thereby improve my re-employment prospects and fund NHS improvements.

    Reading many comments over at the Guardian, the first option would make us “living saints” and the second the “devil incarnate”. As it happened, on this occasion, we chose the second option.

  24. Dodgy Geezer says:

    The right wing think that left-wingers are mistaken – which is why they try to educate them.

    The left wing think that right wingers are evil – which is why they don’t talk to them, and instead wave banners on the streets calling for violence against them.

    Unsurprisingly, left wing support is diminishing while the right wing is expanding…

  25. Ringstone says:

    “A Labour party that was prepared to risk the house on the gamble that Britain wanted a return to Keynes.”

    The Labour Party has never been Keynesian. They are spendthrift.
    The basic point of Keynsian economics is the idea of countercyclical activity.
    You spend in the downturn to stimulate the economy BUT you turn the money pump into reverse in the upturn to cool an overheating economy and provide reserves for the next downturn. Labour has never in my lfetime shown the slightest inclination to stop spending.
    People aren’t fools, they know the crash originated in the sub prime scandal in the USA and was made worse by over leveraged banks – but they also know that Brown and Balls spent like drunken sailors, running a deficit in a boom, and left us in a weakened position to deal with the shock.
    We also know that the “revitalised hospital” is bankrupting the Trust because it was built on the PFI scam to keep the debt off the books – don’t even mention what is going on inside a la Mid Staffs, producer capture at its most grotesque.
    As a final flourish we have the Ajockalypse rooted in the botched devolution that was meant to cement Labour strongholds in the celtic fringe in perpetuity: that went well. It’s not just the economy, Labour are widely regarded as managerially incompetent, they are literally not fit to govern now or in the foreseeable future.

  26. therealguyfaux says:

    In much the same way as the airline flight attendant tells you that in the event of depressurisation in the airplane, mothers are to place their own oxygen masks on first, because it will not ultimately help the child if it is being fitted with the mask as the mother loses consciousness– so too do most people think in terms of their own situation and that of their own families when it comes to the question of “Social Justice,” that nebulous phrase that is meaningless, for its being an inkblot test in which everyone sees whatever they are prepared to see.

    Most sane people’s reaction is to say, “Well, helping the other guy is all well and fine, but it won’t help him if you don’t allow ME to, y’know, take care of myself well enough so I am in a better position not only to help him, but to want to do so unbegrudgingly, not feeling my own situation to be becoming precarious into the bargain.” Till the most Leftie of Labour recognise that this reaction is NOT immoral nor is it Amoral, Labour will suffer electorally.

  27. Martin Yuille says:

    The Labour Party is a social democratic party. But we have always emphasized the social at the expense of the democratic. 2020 has to be different.

    Clements argues that we’ll win in 2020 if we have the right economic policies. Yes, we need those policies – the complete set.

    But that is no guarantee of winning. The Tories will say “Look at our record: we have the policies AND the practices.”

    This is why we add in our attachment to social justice. But as Clements notes, that is not enough either. It won’t stop the floating Tory voter voting Tory.

    So what is the magic ingredient that we are missing from our central narrative?

    In a word, it’s “democracy”.

    This needs to be brought right forward. Scrap the House of Lords for example. That may well sway floating Tories.

    Devolution PLUS democracy. If the Scots can get away from First Past The Post, so can Londoners and Mancunians.

    The Labour Party is a social democratic party. But we have always emphasized the social at the expense of the democratic. 2020 has to be different.

  28. Tafia says:

    Scrap the House of Lords for example. That may well sway floating Tories. Cameron despises the HoL – and I reckon he will do away with it by 2020 and replace it with some form of PR based second Chamber, with the PR regionally-based.

    If the Scots can get away from First Past The Post, so can Londoners and Mancunians. Wales and NI also use a more democratic system of voting. It seems that it’s England that has a difficulty with sticking more than one X on just one piece of paper.

  29. Bob McMahon says:

    Re: Tafia’s comment (June 2, 11:22 am). I’m pretty sure the English people would be capable of putting more than one X on a piece of paper if we were allowed to do so. It’s the Westminster classes who want to keep the current voting system in England, because it suits them. It’s strange that what’s good enough for three of this kingdom’s nations isn’t good enough for the kingdom’s biggest nation.

  30. Carol says:

    Unless the numbers of new immigrants is substantially reduced by 2020 there will be little chance of either the Tories or Labour having a working majority. This is the issue about which most people care even if they are cautious in what they say,and politicians are either unwilling or unable to do anything about it. There is no chance of improving the housing situation if such large numbers continue to enter the country.
    Nor is there any chance of improving health services or schools.There is little in depth debate. Can globalisation benefit the work prospects of the many for example. Is new technology destroying jobs forever? I don’t know. Nobody discusses fundamentals. The line is aspire and work hard and you will do OK. Somehow I doubt that.

  31. Tafia says:

    Bob McMahon – Re: Tafia’s comment (June 2, 11:22 am). I’m pretty sure the English people would be capable of putting more than one X on a piece of paper if we were allowed to do so.

    Well first of all you are going to have to demand devolution for England then aren’t you. Not the piss-poor joke of an idea of EVEL or whatever it’s called, but a proper, devolved Parliament/Assembly or whatever, with proper devolved powers.

    Unfortunately, of the three main parties, Labour is the most resistant to the idea (which may well be one of the reasons it did so badly across England in the General Election just gone.)

  32. Madasafish says:

    Supporters of a party out of power want to radically change the voting system.

    Reality is the only time to do that is when you are in power. Labour had huge majorities and 13 years to do that and did nothing.

    Waste of time discussing it now. Concentrate on winning power… the voting system is a distraction..

    Labour needs a sensible Leader.. oops… its OWN voting system appears designed to deliver another dud.

    Perhaps those who advocate voting reform should start nearer home ..?

  33. Mark Tomlinson says:

    Labour needs a new set of instincts. Its current set are poorly serving it in pursuit of power.

    Its first instinct is that it – and it alone – is right. About every issue. The imperiousness of the Labour Party when seen from outside it is something to behold. And when it is confronted with evidence that it is not – and there is plenty of evidence – then its instinct is to lash out.

    Do Labour Party members ever listen to themselves when they talk about “the Tories”? It is often with deep, ugly hatred. A hatred that would be appalling to those same people if the same language were used, but with “Tory” replaced by black, or gay, or Jew, or disabled. Those on the left should think long and hard about how they dismiss a legitimate party that upholds democratic values above all else, but is often reviled in terms with which the far right would be comfortable.

    The instinct to lash out at voters as “bastards” for having the temerity to vote other than Labour – guys, that is not a good look. The failing is yours, for not having made the case. “We’re not the Tories” is not an adequate case.

    There are other instincts that need to be examined – and ditched.

    – the public sector is always the answer.

    – Big Business is invariably bad business.

    – Strikers always have a good case, their rights should be paramount, regardless of the disruption it might cause.

    – Aspiration is unhealthy. Wealth is vulgar, passing on that wealth to your children more vulgar still.

    – Equality is paramount, even if it means equality in poverty. Any target should be the lowest common denominator.

    – The NHS is as sacred as The Prophet’s image, where pointing out any failing is blasphemy.

    – The rich are a seam to be exploited until mined out. And if these same rich (who provide the great bulk of all taxes to fund our education and the NHS) want to leave – we’ll happily drive them to the airport.

    – There is no such concept as the undeserving poor.

    To be fair, there is still one area where Labour can comfort, one thing that Labour does where it is world-class.


    And the voters really reward them for that….

  34. Mike Homfray says:

    Not a lot of point any of you even thinking about voting Labour when you appear perfectly happy with the Tories.

    If people want or have Tory instincts they will vote for theTory party. There isn’t the need for a second one.

  35. Will says:

    Osbourne is going to pursue an untried and reckless set of policies which many believe will end in disaster, higher unemployment , lower growth and an ever increasing deficit. This was clear before the election.
    Labour toned down its criticism of these policies and even trimmed its own in an effort to appeal to the voters. With “austerity lite”
    This almost certainly accounts for the result in May.
    If things go as badly as many expect then it will be very clear what Labour must do to win next time.

  36. Mark Tomlinson says:

    What is so “very clear”, Will? If the experience of the past five years has been a blip, and those two million jobs created under the Coalition years really do prove to be temporary, and unemployment is back over three million, over four million – what must Labour very clearly do? If Osborne’s fastest growing major economy was built on sand, and we head back into recession – what must an incoming Labour Govt. very clearly do?

    Borrow? At what rates of interest would you say “the country cannot afford this level of borrowing”? Because the voters are going to want to know, before they give you their votes again. And what interest rate are you prepared to let the Bank of England set as base rate as a consequence? 5%? 6%? How many million homes are you prepared to let descend into negative equity? To have repossessed? Or will you take away the power of the Bank of England to set base rates? Because the voters needed to be attracted back from the Tories worry about those kind of things when placing their X against a party.

    Or maybe you’ll tax. Tax the rich. The mobile rich. The mobile 1% of the population who currently pay 28% of all income taxes raised. And a significant proportion of VAT. And Stamp Duty. And all the spending of the significant number of people they employ to let them live their lives of luxury. Those voters they employ. Because when they head to the airport, to go to Ireland, or Norway, or whichever low-tax regime is flavour of the day – are you going to tell those newly unemployed people what replacement jobs Labour is going to create? Are they going to be in the public sector? The same public sector that now has a huge black hole in its finances because the rich guys who paid for education and paid for the NHS have now left a Labour Britain that taxed them to the point where they now pay tax to the Chancellor at a zero rate.

    I hope you have some “very clear” answers to the voters who worry that the money will no longer be there. For their kids’ education. For their parents’ health. For their own jobs. Because if they don’t like those “very clear” answers in your parallel economic model – Labour is blocked from power for a generation.

    What is “very clear” to me is that Labour needs to ditch people like you – people who reach for the past, who refuse to acknowledge how the world has changed since 2005, the last time those voters lent the Labour Party their votes. Those voters have now twice looked at Labour’s offer on the economy – and twice rejected that offer. So what are you going to change – the offer, or the electorate?

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