Thanks to Corbyn, I might not vote Labour. Here’s how the Tories could win my vote in 2020

by Samuel Dale

I have a confession to make. If David Cameron was Conservative leader in 2020 fighting an election against a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour then I would have no choice. I’d vote Conservative for the first time in my life.

I wouldn’t duck the choice with a vote for Tim Farron’s ludicrous Liberal Democrats. Farron has done nothing to build on some of Nick Clegg’s smart, centrist positioning while detoxifying the party from its shambolic U-turns and dreadfully naïve politics when in coalition.

Nope, it’s Tory or Labour at a general election. It’s about choosing a prime minister and there is no doubt that Cameron is better than Corbyn.

We are all familar with how Corbyn has gleefully abandoned Labour moderates and centrists. His pacifism and masochistic foreign policy, opposition to Trident renewal, business policy, monetary policy, income tax levels and much more beside, make him unpalatable to me.

So how can the Tories capitalise. Cameron won’t be leader in 2020 and Corybn may not be either. The real question for Conservatives is, how much do they want my vote and thousands like it. Blairite, pro-EU liberals comfortable with high levels of immigration and capitalism but worried about inequality. Corbyn has opened the space, can they take it?

The Conservatives have made no secret of their desire to (occasionally) pitch to people like me since their May election victory. It’s not easy to prise away Labour tribalists but are making good progress.

Over the past few months, I’ve stopped listening to Corbyn and his circus and started listening to Cameron. Here’s how.

Firstly, Cameron stood on the steps of Downing Street after his stunning victory and talked about One Nation Conservatism. That was fairly predictable post-election statesmanship but I noticed.

Then came the intellectual heft to back it up. I read Steve Hilton’s More Human book, and saw the promotion of Robert Halfon to Tory deputy chair and impressive projects such as the Good Right.

And there was the budget. Some real policy to back up the talk with big increases to the minimum wage, removing the perks of buy-to-let landlords and a crackdown on non-doms. I was now really starting to pay attention to this almost centre-left, New Labour-style budget.

Then in his conference speech, Cameron spoke about the need for far-reaching social reform through expanding educational opportunity and choice; tackling institutional and passive racism from employers and universities and helping the most desperate families rebuild their lives.

This was a direct pitch to me and other Labour voters and members who feel bewildered following the shambolic, morally bankrupt leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

For the first time, I was listening closely to what the Tory leader was saying. And I was still listening again when I read Cameron’s Life Chances speech on January 11.

This was unquestionably the most impressive and thought-provoking political speech since the election and set out a compelling case outlining some of the most intractable social problems infecting our nation.

He talked about helping poorer families save, again about tackling inherent racism, the scandal of poverty blocking opportunities and education, education, education.

Clearly there are many, many Tory issues I find difficult to stomach such as the brutal cuts to welfare (especially the abandoned tax credit cuts), horrific immigration and refugee polices and close-minded Euroscepticism.

Without Cameron’s record of progressive reforms such as international aid and gay marriage, I would need some concrete action to demonstrate commitment to a socially progressive agenda.

I would like to see pension tax relief cut drastically for the wealthy and expensive properties taxed more appropriately. And a much more aggressive approach to reforming capitalism with the next Tory leader taking on the mantle of former US Republican president Teddy Roosevelt so admired by Ed Miliband.

I would also like to see a better narrative and more liberal policies on welcoming desperate refugees as well as economic migrants who contribute so much (that may be too much to ask).

I am disheartened by George Osborne’s capitulation to the banking lobby over financial services regulation since the election. And concerned about the tax deal with Google and his subsequent boasts.

I have been appalled by Theresa May’s revolting anti-immigration rhetoric and her flirtations with EU exit.

And Boris’ consistent anti-EU bashing combined with his fawning over banks and big business is less than attractive.

So it is not a done deal. The socially progressive aspect of Cameron’s Tories comes and goes. A more sustained approach would be welcome.

I remain a member of the Labour party for now, hoping Corbyn will disappear soon under the weight of electoral reality.

But he may not and, right now, I don’t know who I am going to vote for in 2020. Maybe the Tories shouldn’t bend to me. Maybe I am politically homeless.

But I am one of the new swing voters Corbyn has created and the big question is: how much do the Tories really want my vote?

Sam Dale is a financial and political journalist

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

39 Responses to “Thanks to Corbyn, I might not vote Labour. Here’s how the Tories could win my vote in 2020”

  1. NHSGP says:

    Dangerous thing to say.

    Remember its all about red on red violence

    But reading through your demands, it reminds me of the BNP manifesto bar their racism. Virtually word for word.

  2. John P Reid says:

    NHSGP did you read the BNP manifesto except racism
    Renationalise everything
    Build more council homes,
    higher pensions,
    leave NATO,
    independent defence from America
    Higher taxes

    Regarding the Tories, if they wanted to destroy the labour party they could get as many labour votes, by appealing to people who voted for aburnha, and Cooper, the way Michael give idolized New labour, and Theresa May would drive away a few votes,but she isn’t anti the EU the way some moderates like John Cryer, lord Glasman are in the Labour Party

  3. David Walsh says:

    Oh dear.

    This is denial gone full circle

  4. Eddie Clarke says:

    I sympathise with much of what you say, but will continue to vote Labour (1) as the only real opposition to further drift into neoliberalism, and (2), there is, thankfully, no chance of Mr Cobyn becoming Prime Minister, or any other of the 80’s retreads,for that matter. They have no connection with the mass of British people (a concept they do not even possess). I think you say enough in your article to put any real leftie off more Tory government. Best to stay and fight, despite the brickbats (which I see have already started). We can win I the end.

  5. Touchstone says:

    Cue the Corbynista Chorus with their usual chant of “well you were obviously always a Tory so why don’t you **** off and join them”. This is how you run a cult, not a political party.

    If the Tories weren’t almost as self-destructive as Labour, they could lock themselves into power for a generation by wooing the centrist social-democrat voters. However, they are in their own way just as “out there” and divided as Labour currently is, so I don’t think this will happen. There will be token gestures of the sort outlined in the article, nothing of real substance.

  6. paul barker says:

    You want to vote for a Party which is Liberal & Pro-EU, but you wont vote for the one British Party that is Liberal & Pro-EU. Is it The Libdems who are ridiculous or you ?

  7. Roger Hird says:

    I guess that a largish proportion of visitors to this website are Labour Party members. Party members of any party make up a relatively small proportion of the electorate and tend never to even think about voting for another party.

    To the average voter it’s different. They use their choice. They think that’s what voting is all about. Over recent decades they have moved their allegiance from party to party on a substantial scale. Thinking about voting in the way Samuel Dale does may be anathema to most Labour Party members but it’s how the people Labour need to vote for it are thinking – and they are people who tend to be between Labour and Conservative in their views – and I’m pretty sure they greatly outnumber those who are likely to be energised into voting Labour for the first time inspired by JC – but then I was a student in the 60s when I first came across views such as his.

  8. Ken says:

    This article is the end result of what happens when right-wing entryists become entrenched within the Labour Party.

  9. Rogueywon says:

    Also, you missed what Michael Gove’s been doing at the MoJ, rolling back not just some of the mistakes of the Grayling era, but also some of the more unpleasantly authoritarian stuff that came out of the Labour years. He’s not exactly Mister Charisma, but it’s hard to think what more a Justice Secretary might practically have achieved in that time-span.

    Almost makes you wonder if he had a point in some of the stuff he did at Education…

  10. It’s not easy to prise away Labour tribalists but are making good progress.

    I guess I have a different definition of Labour tribalism from Sam. I would suggest to Sam that he makes the jump sooner rather than later.

  11. @ Eddie Clarke

    You seem to want Labour to be ‘the only real opposition to further drift into neoliberalism’. Could you point out which of the three losing leadership saw this as the party’s duty? For me Corbyn was the only one prepared to take on the economic consensus of the last 40 years.

  12. Mike Stallard says:

    “I have been appalled by Theresa May’s revolting anti-immigration rhetoric and her flirtations with EU exit.”
    Why is this?
    The “anti-immigration rhetoric” is not what I mean – it is the “flirtations with the EU exit” bit that I question.
    Why is it to be assumed that sensible, moderate centrists should support an institution like the inward looking and utterly undemocratic EU as it moves towards greater unification?

  13. Branch Sec in Kent says:

    Speaking as a local Branch secretary, the articles posted here never cease to amaze me. You seem to think that Labour didn’t get an almighty kicking at the last election.

    The rise of Corbyn is directly relayed to the performance of the previous Labour leadership.

    The leadership election happened, party members have spoken, get over it and get behind the new leadership.

    I’ve lost count of the number of times the previous leadership had local activists, like myself, cringing at its ineptitude. Yet, we all held our tongues and got on with the job.

    If we went back to the form of leadership you seem to want for the party where would we be then? New Labour won three elections and lost two. Time to move on.

  14. BurntEcclesCakes says:


    Have you considered that immigration is actually increasing inequality in the UK by depressing the wages of the low skilled? The Bank of England recently confirmed this:

    How do you square this with your desire to remain in the EU – where a lot of the low skill immigration comes from – and your desire to see inequality reduced?

  15. John P Reid says:

    Eddie Clarke, after the 83 election tony Benn said “aah, but 8 million people vote for socialism, considerable progress by any standard”, Michael Foot Said with tears in his eyes to him” those people voted labour as they always had done,knowing we’d lose, they didn’t believe in the manifesto”,

    if what you say is true,it’s important the Corbynists realise that those people who’ll still vote labour in 2020′ don’t believe in the manifesto, but are voting labour,know we’ll lose

  16. OllyT says:

    Same for me. Was a member up to this time last year. Under the voting system we have there are only 2 meaningful votes. So it’s Corbyn or whoever replaces Cameron before 2020.

    Although I have voted Lib Dem in the past (1983/ 1987) they wouldn’t get my vote now even if it wasn’t a wasted vote, there is something really creepy about Farron, quite put my finger on it but he really turns me off.

  17. John P Reid says:

    As stated the NEC elections in June will see the Hard… Er sorry Centre left, CLPD ,the D stands for democracy, as in telling people to vote for non labour candidates then intimidate people when faced with suspension for breaking the rules.such as Ian Macnicol, being warned by momentum, when Andrew Fisher is told off for backing class war

    The CLPD will but up Christine shawcrift, and Ken Livingstone again and they can back non labour man Lufthur Rahman,
    But there are 11 potential centre or right wing Labour Party choices standing, Jo Baxter non affiliated ,Eliie Reeves, Luke Akehurst, labour first, progress are talking of putting up 6 candidates, then there’s Eddie Izzard and Bex Bailey

  18. Eddie Clarke says:

    @ Danny Speight
    You are dead right, Danny, which is why I considered voting for Jeremy. He could be a standard bearer for repositioning the economic debate, I thought. The other candidates were, to say the least, uninspiring. Then I read more and listened more to Jeremy and his associates.
    It became clear he was offering a dreary package of multi-pack leftyism, unchanged for decades, with not even a whiff of how he would begin to sell these old gimmicks to the electorate. Selling is perhaps too New Labour an idea. There still is nobody but Jeremy, so we will fail to be elected – to Parliament, I mean. There will be plenty of in-house elections and sham “consultations” and “involvement” to keep Jeremy and friends busy at what they are good at. N We can only hope to keep the party alive until the end of the sabbatical for future return to power.

  19. Anne says:

    I agree with Sam- at present I do not know who I would vote for. I like my local MP who is Labour but do not want to vote for Corbyn – no coherent economic policy, poor leadership, dangerous foreign policy, but on the other hand do not agree with many Cobservative policies but on balance the Conservatives have the upper hand.

  20. James says:

    The left are falling into their own cul-de-sac. In times of austerity people like parties who default to caution on spending and security although they are happy to tack to the centre in Government – not the other way round.

    The left need to do the intellectual policy heavy lifting using imagination. It’s the laziness of Labour over the past five to six years that have caused their own problems. No wary Tory voter in Nuneaton or Northampton is going to vote Corbyn.

    Without those votes Labour is never going to win a majority let alone go into coalition with the Lib Dems.

  21. Mike Homfray says:

    You should vote Conservative. You are clearly at most a centrist, and not at all socialist. Labour is NOT a centre party.
    I shall look forward to hearing that you have joined the Tories – I honestly don’t think your place is with us

  22. John P Reid says:

    Mike Homfray when you say ‘your place is not with us,’ who do you mean us, people who’ve been continuos Labour Party members for more than 8 years,as if you do, that’s isn’t you is it,

    Did many people say I’m glad you dint vote labour any more when you left the Labour Party in 2004?
    How did it feel if they did. And if they did why did you come back,you must have felt you weren’t welcome.

  23. Mike Homfray says:

    But its quite clear that Sam has considerable sympathy for the current Tory agenda – which doesn’t altogether surprise me as Sam appears to be a liberal , economically right of centre, but with some socially liberal views. He clearly isn’t left of centre overall, and won’t be content with the present and future direction of the party

    Whereas he is clearly not at ease with where the Labour party is going, just as I was in 2004, when I left the party, and chose not to rejoin again until I thought there was a chance of getting it back on track
    In all I have been a member for over 25 years, and hope to remain one, should the party not revert to Blairite New Labour, which I do not believe in.

  24. Jimmy says:

    “CLPD ,the D stands for democracy”

    I always thought it stood for Defeat

  25. Caracatus says:

    “Farron has done nothing to build on some of Nick Clegg’s smart, centrist positioning while detoxifying the party from its shambolic U-turns and dreadfully naïve politics when in coalition.”

    I found it difficult to comprehend that “Sam Dale is a financial and political journalist” – I would have hoped he would have spotted the connection between Nick Clegg’s political positioning and shambolic u-turns and naïve politics.

    Why is the author was even in the Labour Party ? oh yes, tribalism combined with conservative values. We all know Cameron is good at making these great “Liberal Conservatism” speeches, but when it comes to actions, it Conservative to the core. The only progressive thing he’s done is gay marriage.

  26. Anne says:

    Thank you John P – if everyone had Mark’s welcoming spirt there would be even less people in the Labour Party.

  27. John P Reid says:

    Is it wring to have sympathy with the current Tory agenda, so you’re gay at everything any Toey has ever stood for, you admit you’ll sty in the Labour Party as long as it’s Corbynista, but tell people who aren’t corbynistas, to leave as they disagree with you at the moment

    So basically the way you want to control the party to be your wing is getting rid of others who disagree,and if they didn’t leave, and vote for policies and a leader you disagree with ,you’ll leave in spite’ but obpnly rejoined ,when you thought you had a chance of getting rid of those who want the party to be closer to the centre,

    Isn’t that bullying.

  28. I understand there’s a prize for the best recruiter to the Tory party, perhaps @Danny Speight are @Mike Homfray are a bit short this month [/irony].

    Seriously, if you hate the idea of the Tories running this country for decades to come, why try to boost their membership? But then, I suppose supporting a leader who wants to give the Falklands to Argentina has the same effect…

    @Sam Dale
    I’m bemused by your article. The Tories have eliminated inheritance tax for the estates of millionaires, while saving the living standards of the working poor. I can understand leaving Labour, but why consider the Tories, when there’s the option of helping create a revived centre left that includes the Lib Dems.

    Obviously, the biggest barrier to that revival is their current weakness following last year’s election. Surely, the solution is to help the Lib Dems rebuild.

    Even if folk don’t want to join the Lib Dems yet, the @socdemgroup exists to build links with social democrats both inside and outside the Lib Dems. Do give us a visit at

  29. Matthew Blott says:

    I see a few of the far left Corbynites who patrol Labour List have turned up to trot out the familiar ‘why don’t you go and join the Tories’ line but in this case they have been invited to ask the question. I know Labour Uncut feels a need to provide an outlet for the views the right of the soft-left but there are surely limits. This really is tripe but then I remembered the author of this nonsense has previously criticised Labour for going on about tax avoidance – you really couldn’t make it up …

  30. james says:

    Where Lib Dems are strong with a good local track record in Labour-facing seats they are doing well. Corbyn’s useful – if you want to try and find those hidden third party Tory voters just ask what they think of Corbyn. Some Labour supporters say `well we vote for the MP but don’t like that one at the top` which is a way to soften their vote while the Tories well let’s just say it provides a way in snigger. How do I know? I volunteer on the phone for just such a seat.

    What’s happening with the local council LD vote – strengthening that’s what!

  31. @ Eddie Clarke

    With all your complaints of how a Corbyn led party operates Eddie, surely John McDonnell and his group of advisers made up of the leading non-neoliberal economists, must be the furthest the Labour Party has gone to break with the economic consensus since the 1970s.

  32. @Danny Speight
    The influence of this economic council is clearly exaggerated.

    “So far, the committee has met once, and the two most high-profile economists – Piketty and anti-austerity heavyweight Joseph Stiglitz – were not present. Others on the team have accused the party of having “stupid ideas” about economic policy.”

  33. Andy Melrose says:

    I’ve a little sympathy with Samuel’s article but for me I vote Labour or I don’t vote. However coming on here and telling folk to “go join the Tories” is pathetic sound byte nonsense of the type that the SNP supporters trot out. We are a broad party.
    Corbyn will be judged by the electorate in May in elections in Scotland, Wales, London & some English regions. If the judgement is damning and we’re still consistently polling sub 30% then as with all football managers you stand or fall by results.

  34. @George Kendall

    Well that was pretty bit of Liberal sleazy spin George. The fact that Labour has put together a team of leading economist from around the world is a feather in John McDonnell’s and Jeremy Corbyn’s caps. The first public debate with a talk by Mariana Mazzucato has already taken place with Corbyn taking notes from the his seat in the hall.

    So instead of using the hatchet job by Anoosh Chakelian why don’t we go to the source which was David Blanchflower writing in the same magazine. What did he have to say without your spin? Well this for starters.

    I have made it clear on several occasions that I am not a Jeremy Corbyn supporter and have never even spoken to him – but I want to help Labour and to make sure that the party does and says sensible things. I am a member of Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s economic advisory board and we are trying to help Labour put together credible economic policies. We have only met once but the plan is to convene every quarter from now on. The economists in the group are smart, left-leaning and credible, though it will take some time to produce a coherent new economic strategy that party members share. Game on.

    And what about the ‘stupid’ bit, George?

    The new Labour leaders are not economists and are going to have to learn fast. They will have to accept the realities of capitalism and modern markets, like it or not. No more silly stuff about companies not being able to pay dividends if they don’t do X or Y. If companies are not allowed to pay dividends, share prices will potentially rise instead. If you raise corporate taxes too high, companies may move to Ireland or elsewhere, where they are lower. Economic policy is, more often than not, applied common sense.

    Doesn’t quite sound the same does it, George? I have a feeling we are all going to learn fast. In the article Blanchflower suspects we are going into another financial crisis and we could already be in its early stages.

  35. @Danny Speight
    Indeed, the off-the-record criticisms of Corbyn and McDonnell sound very different from the more diplomatic criticisms of David Blanchflower. But even Blanchflower’s quote of “No more silly stuff about companies not being able to pay dividends if they don’t do X or Y.” sounds pretty damning to me.

    We’ll see if Corbyn and McDonnell really listen to him.

    My suspicion is that they’ll carry on as they are now. They’ll agree to an ambiguous compromise economic policy, in order to try to keep the soft left on board, and it will be possible to portray that policy as something akin to what Ed Miliband proposed at the last election.

    However, they will continue to raise unrealistic expectations that a Labour government will be able to resolve the deficit by cutting tax concessions for business. They’ll even allow the impression to persist, that they will reverse all the cuts of the 2010-2015 government.

    Those expectations will be completely incompatible with what David Blanchflower says: “If you raise corporate taxes too high, companies may move to Ireland or elsewhere, where they are lower.”

    As for us a possible new recession. A new recession around 2017 was something that really worried me on LDV back in 2010.

    I’m massively relieved that, according the the OBR last November, the projected structural deficit for 2015-2016 was only 1.6% of GDP (excluding capital spending).

    The structural deficit (excluding capital spending) in 2009-2010 was 5.3%.

    I shudder to think of what would have happened to the country if we were now facing a possible recession, but still with a 5.3% structural deficit.

    Don’t forget, the structural deficit takes allowance of the economic cycle, so coming out of recession wouldn’t have changed it. If the government reversed all the cuts of 2010-2015, it’d go straight back up again.

  36. @George Kendall

    So the Liberal spin goes on, George. David Blanchflower, once the bete noire of the economic consensus is now used in an attempt to attack the Labour leadership. It’s a bit ‘silly’ that you should try to do this when Blanchflower has volunteered to advise McDonnell. It makes you look rather petty.

  37. @George Kendall,

    “I shudder to think of what would have happened to the country if we were now facing a possible recession, but still with a 5.3% structural deficit.”

    That’s because you don’t understand economics , George!

    The “correction” of the actual deficit to get the so-called structural deficit is just guesswork. If you know differently please tell us how it’s done!

    If the UK has a trading imbalance with the ROW then someone in the UK has to fund that deficit by borrowing. If there’s a tendency to net save in the economy after a crash then, to make up the difference, the Government has to borrow even more than usual unless it forces the pound down to reduce the trade imbalance.

  38. Hi Peter,

    I presume question is a rhetorical one.

    But in case anyone reading this wants to understand more about the structural deficit, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBT) has published a pretty good guide here:

    To understand how it is estimated, you’d have to contact the OBR and the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It won’t be simple.

    From what you’re saying above, Peter, presumably you think the OBR and ONS don’t understand economics either.

Leave a Reply