Parties to the left of Labour
Tue 29th Oct 2013
Parties to the left of Labour hold seats in Scotland, Wales, the North of England, and the South of England.
In Scotland, the Labour vote is as large as ever, while the SNP has taken over most of what was historically the unassailable Tory majority there, with the SNP heartland exactly where the Unionist, as a party name, heartland used to be; it has never been Labour.
In Wales, Plaid Cymru’s strength is in rural areas that not very long ago were either Labour-Conservative marginals or safely Conservative.
No one could accuse its voters of being immigrants. Speaking the oldest cultural language in Europe also to be in more pedestrian day-to-day use, they are the oldest population group on this Island and its islands. Compared to them, everyone else here is an immigrant; even the speakers of Gaelic are Irish.
Labour is in second place in two of Plaid Cymru’s three seats. It is not the Labour vote that has transferred to Plaid Cymru. That vote has not transferred to anywhere.
Bradford West was a Conservative target seat in 2010, and it is the kind of place without which that party cannot win an overall majority. Nor has it ever done so without Brighton Pavilion, which, say it until it sinks in, is in Sussex.
In both, the Labour votes remain solid enough to provide realistic bases for recapture in 2015. The main party that has lost ground is demonstrably the other one.
The Greens’ target seats in several parts of the South are in a similar position, with neither the aim nor even the aspiration being the replacement of Labour, but rather the uniting of the anti-Labour vote. It is obvious who that means, at least primarily.
How can this possibly be? It ought not to come as any surprise. 70 per cent of people favour the public ownership of the utilities, the railways and the Royal Mail.
The second and third of those were the policy of the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher. John Major abandoned both in principle, and the railways in practice. He never won another General Election.
Support for a 60 per cent top rate of income tax is support for the policy of Nigel Lawson when he served under Thatcher, and the threshold at which today’s respondents would wish to set it is well above that at which he administered it with her authority.
One could go on.
The Conservative Party has always been economically to the right of the Labour Party at the given time. But the Conservative Party of the 1980s was economically far to the left of the Labour Party of the Blair years.
Enough previous Conservative voters duly leapfrogged Labour to put parties to its left into Parliament from, it is worth repeating, all four of Scotland, Wales, the North of England, and the South of England.
They put those parties into government in Scotland, and periodically in Wales. They also nearly managed to do so in England in 2010.