My analysis of the past year or more has now been taken up in all quarters of the mainstream media. Almost all now agree on the essential fact, that Labour is now pretty much an irrelevance in British political life. In Scotland, Labour has only 1 Westminster MP out of 59 and 23 Holyrood MSPs out of 129 (and is currently far below even the Conservatives in percentage support terms, around 18%). In Wales, another former stronghold, Labour has 29 out of 60 AMs in Cardiff; in the London Assembly, its most concentrated convention-place of influence, 12 out of 25 MLAs.
Labour has 230 MPs at Westminster (including 1 vacant seat and 1 suspended member –Simon Danczuk–) out of 650, but early indications are that 2020 will see another low: Labour is now around 25% in polling, which might indicate about 200 seats, possibly far fewer. The redrawing of constituency boundaries and reduction of Commons seats to 600 may well leave Labour with as few as 150 MPs. Some even predict 100.
If Labour is left with 100 or even 200 seats out of 600 after 2020, it has ceased to be an alternative government and has become almost a niche player, or one among several non-governing parties.
Should Labour have 200 seats out of 600 after 2020, then it probably cannot form even a minority government, even with SNP and other minor-party support in some form; should Labour have 150 or fewer seats, then even the long-shot of minority government recedes far out of reach. I have blogged previously about what might happen should Scotland secede from the UK: Labour would then have, arguende, 100-200 seats out of 541, a higher percentage than 100-200 out of 600 or 650, but without the 56 vital potentially-supporting SNP MP votes. Permanent Opposition, at best.
Labour’s old support base in the trade-unionized industrial and urban proletariat has dissolved along with that social demographic. The new urban and suburban “precariat” and/or “chavscum” either do not vote at all or prefer to vote elsewhere as the volatile mood takes them. Recent polling indicates that the one demographic now supporting Labour (and only just, at that) is the non-white population. Indeed, with Jeremy Corbyn’s well-known anti-Israel position highlighted, it can be said that Labour’s typical voter profile is that of a “British” Pakistani Muslim.
The recent Stoke Central by-election proves the above proposition. Stoke Central by-election had a turnout of only 38.2% (21,200), but it can be reliably surmised that the organized Labour Pakistani Muslim turnout was far higher, probably above 50%. There are at least 6,000 Pakistani Muslim voters in Stoke Central; at least 3,000 will have voted and (mostly) voted Labour. The Labour Party candidate won by about 2,500 votes. QED.
It cannot be an accident that, whenever Jeremy Corbyn is seen somewhere, visiting a constituency or whatever, he is surrounded by a small crowd of non-white women. Either Labour is playing to its one remaining strength or those are the only local supporters now willing to turn out to welcome Corbyn.
The 3 main strands that now make up Labour (traditional generational-voting people, “Corbynistas”, “Blairite”/”Brownite” pro-Zionist MPs and others) are unravelling. There is now a move to create a “centrist” (pro-Zionist) party which might include the LibDems and some Conservative Party MPs. The previous thought, that keeping “Labour” as a name or “brand” was the key to success, is fading as Labour becomes almost toxic to voters. It is certainly true that a new party of that sort might start off with many MPs: perhaps 100 from Labour, 9 LibDems and however many Conservatives want to put principle before electoral certainty.–probably not the 80 MPs that Anna Soubry has suggested! Half a dozen, perhaps. Still, even 100 MPs would make any new party a player.
A new social nationalist party might catch on like wildfire in former Labour heartlands, but (regrettably) does not as yet exist.
I see no reason to change my analyses of the past nearly two years. Labour is trying to pull in different directions, appeal to different groups of voters on contradictory bases (eg re EU and Brexit) and has no credibility on mass immigration, arguably the major issue which concerns voters. Corbyn is a problem but not the problem. Labour’s failures in 2010 and 2015 prove that.
The conclusion must be that Labour is not offering the policies or leadership that might attract voters. Even if it changed both its overall policy and its leader, Labour would still not succeed, because its credibility is shot, on immigration, on the economy, on competence generally.
Further Thoughts (16 months later, on 25 July 2018):
My analysis remains correct in essence, in my view. Since March 2017, Labour has done far better than I anticipated, but not by reason of its own merit. The more important fact has been the bursting of the bubble for the Conservative Party. Despite much evidence to the contrary, the voters seem to have decided, in the 2010-2015 period, that the Conservatives were “nasty but competent”. The second of these started to die off during 2015 -2017 and now (2018) the public seem to think that “Labour may be incompetent but the Conservatives have been proven to be so”. That is true on immigration, Brexit, crime/law and order, NHS etc. The Conservatives “talk a good game” but have failed to deliver.
I still doubt that Labour can get a Commons majority, even on the present boundaries, which will not change (reducing MP numbers to 600) until 2022. However, Labour has every chance now of forming at least a minority government before 2022, possibly as early as late 2018. I very much doubt that more than 40% of voters favour Labour or that more than about 35% will actually vote Labour. What matters is where that 35% live. Marginal seats, or Labour strongholds? If the latter, then Labour is still in trouble.
My present feeling is that neither main System party is popular and that the next general election will reflect that, but that Labour is offering more. It may be unable to deliver, but will voters prefer a party which offers much and may be unable to deliver, or one which offers little or nothing at all?
Update, 19 November 2020
The article above was written when it was expected that MP umbers would be reduced to 600. That reform will now no longer take place, certainly not during the present Parliament.
The election of 2019 gave Labour 201 MPs out of 655, leaving the party very weak. Relatively few 2017 Labour voters voted Conservative in 2019. More abstained, unable to support either major (System) party: