Voting fodder

photoThe Emily Thornberry tweet was a Godsend to Labour. It did Labour a great favour for it diverted attention away from how badly the party had polled in the Rochester by-election.

A party powering back to office should have won. After all it’s a seat that they held for 13 years until 2010. Ok not quiet on the same boundaries, but nevertheless a party aspiring to government come May should have done better than limp into third place.

Labour’s traditional working class voters feel let down and are turning to the new kid on the block, UKIP.  Not so much an ideological conversion but a “sod you all” protest vote.

A massive miscalculation was made in strategy. They had been working on the assumption that Ukip, by splitting the vote on the right, would gift Labour enough seats to steer them into government.

Wrong. Power has to be earned. It doesn’t fall into any party’s lap, like apples from a tree.

For it isn’t only Tory voter that are seduced by Ukip but as Labour has belated discovered, their voters too. Ok, not to the same degree but nevertheless in sufficient numbers to undermine Labour getting the keys to Number Ten by default.

Politics enters a new phase it’s goodbye the two party system and its hello multi-party politics. The combined polling share of Labour and the Tories has rarely been so low. The House of Commons, since the arrival of Ukip, has 12 parties and three independents.

The proponents of the first past the post election system argued that it worked.  It provided the basis for a strong government. Oh yes, a strong government and waiting in the wings an opposition party ready to take office. Tweedledum and tweedledee, politics.

Well, it’s no longer so. The duopoly has gone.  Now the voting system needs to change to reflect this.

Moving away from a system where a handful of seats decide who’s in or out of government would put the power back where it belongs in the hands of all the voters wherever they live.

Labour for instance might start thinking about the voters living in its heartland rather than Mondeo man and Worcester woman.

Elections should be about winning the votes of all the country and not a handful of fickle electors in marginal seats.


This entry was posted by Gareth Hughes on at and is filed under Blog Post. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Voting fodder”

  1. Glyn Erasmus says:

    Hear Hear

  2. Karen says:

    Gosh, the author of this piece is rather showing his age.

    Labour hasn’t won an election for over half a century by appealing to its ‘traditional’ supporters. Rather it has concentrated on the aspirational, educated middle ground. And, in truth, over the past twenty or more years it hasn’t done too badly! Only when it reverts ‘to type’ does it start to fail again.

    Emily Thornberry was entirely right in her tweet to point out what type of voter existed in Rochester, the sort of voter that English Labour doesn’t want and certainly doesn’t need.

    Owen Jones went further. He described the flying of flags in such a manner as distinctly un-english and he too was right. Yes, the Scots and the Welsh do it and especially so when their devolved public institutions, the NHS or education service, are shown to be floundering. But not the English. The English have never used a flag to shield themselves from the horrors of life. They confront the unpleasant realities and work them through. This is, in truth, what it means to be English.

    Perhaps now you can understand why Wales and those in Wales often feel so isolated.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>