Written after the 2020 UK General Election in which Labour did unexpectedly poorly.
Since I see a lot of people asking “What went wrong for Labour?” it’s occurred to me to try to answer the question by writing my own manifesto.
As a Christian I really feel that they should by default have my vote. I’m not saying whether they did or not on Facebook, but they certainly didn’t have my undivided support. I’m supposed to care about the poor, the powerless, “the orphan and the widow”, and Labour seems like the party which should naturally do that. I also liked many of their specific policies, such as nationalising railways and utilities.
For starters, I think they spent three years making themselves unelectable. Having said they’d respect the result of the referendum on EU membership, they found they didn’t want to. But they also didn’t want to admit the fact, so they spent all that time paying lip-service to the idea while putting up every possible objection, ruling out “no deal”, then voting against every deal offered and asking for repeated extensions. Both Labour and the EU were probably calculating that the whole issue would eventually just go away. But the British electorate know contempt for democracy when they see it, and eventually got their chance to punish the behaviour. A shame, because none of that issue should really be what Labour is about.
There was also an odd attitude: “We’re the good guys and the other lot are evil”. That’s more than a bit strange coming from one lot of politicians about another lot! But the Left often seem to go in for this thought, and it unfortunately justifies pretty bad things, including the undemocratic behaviour I’ve noted. They seemed to think that all right-thinking people’s votes were theirs and they could do whatever they liked and still have them.
So what do I say they should do now? I would offer this simple answer. You say you’re the party of the workers, the poor, the humble, the otherwise-unrepresented? Fine: be that party. Do what they want you to do. Look after them; don’t just say you will. If ever again in government, really support the NHS, (last time you introduced PFIs). If you say you’ll support the low-paid, do so (last time in office, you didn’t; you left it to the Conservatives to introduce effective living wages).
With sincere intentions of being the party supporting the workers and caring for the poor, you should have my vote automatically. Just one more thing: don’t take me for granted and assume you can smuggle in lots of mad ideas along with the core policies. Don’t tell me it’s OK to discriminate against white people or men. Don’t say it’s OK to kill inconvenient people (the unborn; the terminally ill). Don’t tell me a man can decide to be a woman or vice versa. Don’t ask me to accept that sexual morality is unimportant. Defend us; don’t cozy-up to people who want to kill us. Don’t make up words ending in “-phobic” if I dare to disagree with something you say. Especially, don’t keep on ridiculing my Christian faith while appearing credulous about others.
If I sound cross it’s because I think this is important. Our system needs an effective opposition and over the last three years, Labour haven’t been one. But if they can rethink their approach so that they’re really the party of the people they talk so much about, rather than the pretence we’ve recently been faced with, they’ll be sure of my vote next time.