Beware. Labour’s grief may well be post-dated

by Kevin Meagher

As cushions go, the ten seats the Democratic Unionists are likely to put at Theresa May’s disposal still only gives her a working majority of two. It’s a cushion cover, not a cushion.

The obvious threat of potential by-election losses (as well as the awful prospect of ISIS attacking MPs in order to collapse the government), means Theresa May’s control of events is time-limited.

She has weeks to restore equilibrium to her government’s authority and will presumably use the forthcoming Queen’s Speech, the summer recess and the party conference season to get back on the front foot.

But then what? She can’t run the risk of seeing her government collapse due to a defection, a death or because of the duplicity of the DUP. She needs to actively plan for a second general election.

Imagine this scenario.

March 2018. Philip Hammond gets up to deliver the Budget. Austerity is cold in its grave as a political priority. He could kick the whole issue of funding adult social care into the long grass by announcing a Royal Commission. He might put up corporation tax a bit in order to offer a basic rate income tax cut and a reprieve for cash-starved councils and the NHS. He might relent a bit on public sector pay too. And then his big reveal: The Tories are scrapping tuition fees.

‘We recognise,’ he intones gravely ‘that saddling young people with debt at the start of their working lives makes it impossible for them to buy a home. As Conservatives we believe in a home-owning democracy so we want to extend that promise to all young people.’

He might even throw in a big, eye-catching measure like a special ISA to help first-time buyers save for a deposit, with the Government putting in half the cash, or similar.

Then Theresa May calls a general election.

Will that enormous surge in support among young people fall neatly into Labour’s column once more? How many will now break for the Tories? How many, in fact, will turn out at all? Was last Thursday’s surge a blip or a paradigm shift, as political scientists would put it? Did that record number of young voters back Labour for socialism or self-interest?

The jury’s surely out on all counts.

The delirium Labour people felt at 10pm last Thursday was precisely because expectations were so appallingly low. That extends to the leadership, which was as surprised as anyone at how things panned out.

But was it merely a reprieve? Has the party postponed the nutting contest with a wrecking ball until next year – or, perhaps, even sooner?

Labour has not earned the right to breathe easy. You can take it as read the Tories will learn from their mistakes. If it came to it, co-opting the popular parts of Labour’s platform would be, for them, preferable to losing.

The big existential threat may still be in front of Labour.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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13 Responses to “Beware. Labour’s grief may well be post-dated”

  1. John Wall says:

    The effective majority with the DUP is actually more. Eliminate the Speaker and deputies and Sinn Fein and remember that every seat over 326 counts double.

  2. John P Reid says:

    Very good article, the libdems use to be the protest party, then people voted Ukip as a protest, despite their view on Brexit

    Fact was many people thought labour would do very poor,so voted labour as a protest against the Tories, on the likes of the Dementia tax, but didn’t actually want labour to win, the Tories are still imploding,labour is in the rise, I’m not saying labour wouldn’t win a election,if it was called tommorow, but thre are people who voted labour thinking we wouldn’t win, so did it anyway,who won’t vote labour next time, as they’re worried we would win.

  3. Anne says:

    I don’t believe that the Tories partnership with the DUP will be popular. For example I read that the dup are asking for 350m for NI farmers to replace the subsidies that they will lose from the EU – will the Tories be promising similar reimbursement to English or Welsh farmers. It is important that the deal with the dup is made public – so that the public can make a judgement regarding its viability.

  4. Landless Peasant says:

    But what could the Tories possibly do about the monumental mess they made of our Social Security system? How can they defend that? The catastrophic shambles of Universal Credit, all the rent arrears it has caused, the Sanctions, foodbanks, homelessness, not to mention the 50,000 deaths over a 5 year period that were attributed by Coroners to Tory Welfare Reforms. They !re the Nasty Party & everyone on the receiving end knows it.

  5. Livingston says:

    Victory is all but in the bag. The electoral sabotage tactics of the Blairites are not working. Labour are riding high in the polls once again as a socialist party!

  6. John Wall says:

    @Anne – the Barnet formula means that if NI get something the rest of the UK gets it pro rata.

  7. Tafia says:

    Will that enormous surge in support among young people fall neatly into Labour’s column once more? How many will now break for the Tories?

    With the Tories getting 43% of the popular vote – one of the top three of the last 50 years or so, all the Tories need to do is keep the 43% and promise the old people that own houses worth more than 100K that they won’t have a go at them. What the young do is neither here nor their.

  8. John Wall says:

    @Tafia – welcome to the ranks of the cynics! You’re right about the magnitude of the vote – but the lead also matters. Cameron got millions of votes less than May but had a 6-7% lead over Miliband which gave him a slim majority.

  9. At the moment the Tories are on a downward slope and the slope seems to be getting steeper. With a reduction in the negativity from the Labour bitterites we should be to make the slope even more slippery.

  10. Delta says:

    The true face of Mr Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party

    If you are moderate or a Blairite they will be coming for you soon.

  11. I suppose you do realize that this post looks rather laughable when there is one still showing on the front page of your feed predicting “nuclear winter” for Labour in the election last week. At some point, you have to do some soul searching or lose what little credibility you had to begin.

  12. John P Reid says:

    doug jonson Hatlem, well after having he worse tory PM ever, and people not anting austerity anymore, and her humiliation on knife crime doubling despite saying it wouldn’t when she cut police ,or terrorism increase ,when she cut community police or calling out the police federation they were crying wolf, saying her cuts would lead to having to have the Army on the streets, rather than cops, then it happened,
    we still didn’t win and it was the second election defeat, on the trot a labour leader who denounced New labour has caused us

  13. john P ried says:

    Daniel Speight who are bitterites, it was a name that John Prescott called Charles Clarke ,when he didn’t want Gordon brown to replace blair,and he as right ,brown lost it for us, but ,the party united around ed Miliband, then he lost, and Corbyn did no better than Brown

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