Don Brind on where the UNITE boss is right and where wrong
Len McCluskey is right. Labour could be back in government as a result of the 2020 General Election. I agree with the Unite leader that while there’s little chance of Labour winning the election there’s a decent chance that the Tories will lose it.
McCluskey is rather more emphatic than me: “ I don’t think the Tories will win the next election. They might be the largest party but I don’t think they will be able to form a government,” he told the Observer What he foresees is a minority government supported by the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.
With Labour languishing in the mid 20s in the polls and trailing the Tories by up to 18 points that many will think Len and I have taken leave of our senses.Theresa May looks impregnable.
But then so did Sir John Major in 1992. BBC Parliament is giving us Labour masochists the chance to relive the trauma of that defeat when Major he garnered a record 14 million votes to see of the challenge from Neil Kinnock. . Perhaps the channel should now think about re-running coverage for September 16th 1992 — “Black Wednesday. Less than six months after his victory Major’s government imploded – and Europe was the issue.”The UK was forced out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism damaged the Major government’s economic credibility beyond repair.
And like Len McCluskey I suspect the Theresa May’s is much more fragile than it looks. I aired my hostility to her policies in my last post here.
Her current popularity could be tested by underfunding of the NHS and schools as well as the continuing sharp squeeze on living standards and, of course, Brexit.
Then there the signs of a Lib Dem recovery, which according to the New Statesman’s political editor George Eaton is worrying Tory MPs. He says,
“The MPs’ fears, I can reveal, were later reinforced by private Conservative polling. According to multiple sources, a survey conducted by Crosby Textor showed the party would lose most of the 27 gains they made from the Lib Dems in 2015, including all those in south London, all those in Cornwall and most of those in Devon.”
Those gains were crucial to May’s Commons majority of 16 – which is, of course, smaller than Major’s in 1992.
This is where I part company with the Unite leader. If it’s governments that lose elections the Opposition has to be ready to profit. McCluskey thinks Jeremy Corbyn should be given more time to prove he can win over the voters. I believe this is impossible. Voters in general, and workers class voters in particular, have made up their minds. They don’t see him as a Prime Minister.
Electing a new leader is the ultimate game changer. Look at Germany where, as the Guardian reports, the advent of Martin Schultz, “has already seen the SPD, after nearly two decades in which it has haemorrhaged support, boosting the number of its card-carrying members by thousands, while polls have shown voter support has risen by about 10 points.”
The sooner Labour gets the chance to find its Martin Schultz the better.