Left-wing collusion to lock the Conservatives out of power will not work, and would massively backfire were it even attempted
Remember Nicola Sturgeon’s dream of a rainbow coalition of left-wing political parties putting their differences aside and coming together to lock the Evil Tories out of government and usher in a new era of endless abundance for all, courtesy of the Magic Money Tree?
It hasn’t gone away. That insufferable, sanctimonious, morally superior dream has still not died. Here’s Brian Barder, writing in LabourList as though it were still May 6, 2015:
If the Tories, under a new leader enjoying a honeymoon, are to be dethroned, and if Labour alone can’t dethrone them, it’s simple logic that the job can be done only by an alliance of the progressive parties, led by Labour as the biggest of them. Such a multi-party association can take several forms: a loose alliance supporting a minority Labour government, or a slightly more formal ‘confidence and supply’ understanding with the other progressive parties, or a formal coalition of some or even all of them, each represented in a government of the broad left.
Similarly, the policies of a broad progressive alliance to replace the Tories in office can be agreed before an election (or even after it, as in 2010) in a detailed agreed document, or there can be a more general understanding in support of a progressive programme whose core elements all the progressive parties agree to support, or the other parties can be free to decide ad hoc which policies of a minority Labour government they will support as they go along.
This is all a response to the dawning realisation that whatever his arguable virtues (and this blog has been a cautious fan), Jeremy Corbyn is not currently positioning himself to sweep Labour back to power in 2020.
To his credit, Brian Barder is not panicking, and is instead trying to come up with a pragmatic way for the Left to make an impact without relying on overly sunny predictions about getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn any time soon. That much is good. But Barder’s solution and call for a left-wing coalition is no less silly than the calls for the Parliamentary Labour Party to split from the national party, pick their own leader and form a self-serving Westminster caucus without a local or national support base.
“So what if Labour can no longer enthuse enough people to march to their polling station to vote the party back into government”, goes this line of thinking. “There are enough other people out there vaguely like us that if we all band together in a cynical and self-serving coalition, we will be able to deny the British people the government that the electoral system should have produced and do the job ourselves, even though individually we are about as popular as a swarm of Brazilian mosquitoes”.
In other words, it’s complete nonsense. The general election we had just nine months ago proves that there is no great and silent left-wing majority in Britain. If there were, Labour would not have been decimated throughout south-east England, and the Greens and Liberal Democrats would have won enough seats between them to make ganging together to force Ed Miliband on a reluctant Britain politically viable. But they were decimated, and Ed Miliband is now making tedious speeches from the back benches.
Yet the denial is strong. In even proposing such a left-wing collaboration, Brian Barder reveals that he clearly spends his time percolating in the same confirmation bias-reinforcing ideological echo chambers as many others on the Labour left, and has mistaken a Twitter timeline full of David Cameron pig jokes and anti-Tory human rights hysteria for a representative sampling of the British public.
Or as blog said on 8 May, immediately after the election, which still holds true now:
Until the exit poll came in, it was simply inconceivable to many on the left that there could be any result other than a rainbow coalition of Britain’s left wing parties, coming together to lock the Evil Tories out of Downing Street and immediately get to work cancelling austerity and providing everyone with material abundance through the generosity of the magic money tree.
It is simply unthinkable to the like of Barder that the people of Britain might actually reject left-wing dogma and prefer David Cameron’s eminently pragmatic, reassuringly non-ideological form of watered down conservatism. Clearly the British people need saving from an Evil Tory government that they did not want, and therefore any electoral machination to achieve this end would be justified.
Except that it wouldn’t. The quietly patriotic, un-ostentatiously self-sufficient real majority in this country already believe that they are the victims of an establishment stitch-up when it comes to issues like Europe and immigration, where there was (rightly) perceived to be a false consensus among political parties, shutting down an important debate and denying millions of people the opportunity to have their voices heard and listened to.
How much worse, then, would the public’s reaction be if the next election sees an arrogant multi-party coalition of left-wing losers band together to lock the largest party out of power? How much rage would such a presumptive move cause?
Yet Barder (and others) are deadly serious in their daydreaming for a rainbow coalition of left-wing parties:
The first cautious step is for a group of the Labour leadership representing all its main strands of opinion to start private and non-committal talks with the leaders of the other progressive parties, to explore their attitudes to some form of possible progressive alliance. If these produce a positive response, the next step should be meetings to identify common policy ground which all concerned could agree to support.
We are not yet one year into the first term of the first all-Conservative government in eighteen years, and already fantasy plans are being drawn up for furtive meetings leading to grand summits between Jeremy Corbyn, Angus Robertson, Caroline Lucas and whoever now leads the Liberal Democrats.
The seductive dream of a united left-wing coalition against the Tories simply will not die. But that says far more about the Left’s unhinged and hysterical response to David Cameron’s bland, centrist government – and its relentless seizing of the middle ground – than it does about the possibility of such an odious coalition delivering a Labour prime minister in 2020.
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a united left-wing coalition against the Tories is welli n place and established at grass roots level via the 56 scots mps labour and the welsh brought together via the peoples assembly by 2020 the vote will shift its every1 v the torys the peoples power will be to much for them the country is awake via social media and the mister nobody can see the rich torys robbing them hsbc the royal mail and so on its criminal !
Thh is is only partly about the Basic Income. Despite being drastically redistributive, it appeals to business people because it can give market forces free rein without oppressing anybody. On that basis, I have been vainly urging the Green Party to break your friends’ stranglehold by taking some of their votes. Don’t worry. even though i am a founder member, the Green Party isn’t going to take any notice of me any time soon. There are too many Hattonite members at present. (you have to remember Liverpool in1he1970s to understand that reference).
…’The seductive dream of a united left-wing coalition against the Tories simply will not die.’…
I was about to type ‘It’s possible it’s worse than that’ but immediately I checked the temptation. It is actually worse than that.
Sam, if you’ve not read the Hitchens book ‘The Cameron Delusion’ I’d happily advise you secure yourself a copy. It’s not a long book, and it occasionally rambles, but part of it is dedicated to what identifies as the centre-left and it’s easily perceptible extreme authoritarian nature beating close to the surface.
Here’s a good example, again from LabourList:-
‘Swatnan’ 2 days ago.:-
…’In fact Alan Johnson should also state quite categorically that he and all the Labour ‘Remain’ MPs will resign, en masse , because the British people have not listened to reasoned argument.’…
Oddly enough, that’s a fairly close version to what I’m expecting would happen if the electorate returned a useable majority ‘Leave’ vote. But to put that to one side for the mo’, Mr. Swatnan is a regular poster on LL and is by no means an egregious example of distant lunacy. On that particular forum, he will generally represent the norm of Labour supporting contributors.
Your quoted sentence at top pre-supposes (and quite rightly too) some form of democratic process to deny a particular party the ability to inform legislation. But to my viewpoint, culturally and institutionally the UK Left is actually a process which will refuse to recognise anything other than their own project. (Witness the >fifty year civil war in their own party – that particular conflict is never going to end. But the point being, (and as per the Conservatives) ‘the Electorate’ take a very considerably distant back seat to Party membership and exigency. The voters are a currency for them to spend or hoard at whim – but by no means to be acknowledged as sentient human beings.
As much as I might slap my capaciously bare forehead these days, our current crop of ‘politicians’ and the support mechanisms behind them have become very dangerous indeed. (And I’ll take the opportunity to add the LibDems to the mix – the worst of the lot of them.)
I’m with Pete North on this one. I’m thinking more of ‘scorched earth’ rather than ‘tactical voting’.
Thank you Douglas for the comment and recommendation – I haven’t yet read the Hitchens book, though I am an admirer of his, even when we happen to disagree. It sounds as though he is absolutely right about the authoritarian nature of the supposedly moderate Left, though, so I will add this to my reading list with great interest.
The LabourList article you cite would be hilarious, if it wasn’t so concerning. The idea of a political party simply flouncing out of the debate in response to the British public’s temerity to listen to them is absolutely absurd. But it is also the inevitable conclusion when you flatter yourself that yours is the only intelligent and moral position to hold, and that anybody who disagrees with you is either stupid or evil. I fear that we will only see more such instances of these authoritarian temper tantrums from increasingly high profile Labour MPs.
Scorched earth is certainly starting to sound quite appealing.