Why Have The Conservatives & Labour Taken A Pasting At The Polls?
I love it when the Tory vote collapses. Honestly I do, and not just because I hate the Tories. It’s the sense of panic that ensues within them after. The blame game starts, and this year it’s a split between ‘It’s May’s fault’ and ‘It’s frustration from the public regarding Brexit.’
Naturally Jeremy Corbyn’s tactic of being non-committal on the Great Brexit Debate (I am trade marking that) again proved inspired as Labour swept the Conservatives aside. Oh. Wait a minute. It turns out that that didn’t work and Labour are also taking a pasting (although not as bad as The Tories). I think it’s fair to say that The Big Two are the biggest losers of this week in politics.
But why? Really to answer that you have to break the answer in two. Firstly why has The Tory vote collapsed? And secondly, why have Labour been unable to capitalise on such heavy Tory division?
Let’s start with the first part. So The Conservatives pose an interesting conundrum, because really the only threat to their core voters on paper was always going to be UKIP. Maybe, just maybe they might have lost a few to Labour as the other big Leave party, and probably a defection of Remainers to pro-Remain parties.
This in essence highlights the Tories core problem. Everyone knows what they stand for, it’s Brexit and Austerity. There is nothing else of substance to them. Given that they have already taken an electoral beating two years ago over Austerity the actual lack of action in dealing with that will have stung them again. If you fail to learn your lessons, and insist on following the same course then getting punished for that is inevitable.
However the ruthless, compassionless policy of Austerity has been eclipsed over the last two years by Brexit. It is after all the all-consuming bigger picture of Brexit.
For the Tories it’s highlighted how being the only viable government option of those on the right has lead them to being not just a broader church than Labour, but more importantly a more fragmented than one. The Tories are currently split between Remainers, Pro-Deal Brexiteers (varying from Hard Brexit to Soft Brexit), and No Deal Brexiteers.
This is problematic when you consider that they are officially a Leave Party advocating a Hard Brexit.
What they offer only really appeases one side of the internal debate, and a reluctance to show flexibility and compromise on Brexit has come back to haunt them. Rather than have an option they can use to appeal to both sides of the Hard/Soft Brexit split internally, what they have instead done is persist with a deal that doesn’t really please the majority of the party membership, let alone the electorate that they have to win over.
These factors combined lead us nicely to the third reason that The Tories got a drubbing which is, hmmm, how do I put this diplomatically, is their own sheer incompetence. Internal factionalism has turned a party that has proudly boasted that they can be trusted with the economy into an entity which is bickering over which of them should take the reins after May fucks off. That my friends doesn’t scream ‘trusted party of government’ but ‘self-interested, self-serving opportunistic arseholes.’
But of course this can be directly put at May’s door. As a Prime Minister she has shown a stubbornness that has gone beyond the realm of deserving of begrudging respect and into just farcical. She has lost control of her party, has lost her mandate, and is essentially just a sound bite played on a loop when asked any kind of question.
When you look at these combined of course The Conservatives haemorrhaged support. Let’s be honest, they have hardly showered themselves in glory over the last nine years they have sat in Government, all Brexit has done is serve to show how much further out of touch with reality they are than we expected.
In regards to Labour you could argue it’s much easier to pin point a reason for why they received their own kicking at the polls. Essentially Corbyn’s own desire to pander to both sides of the debate is rapidly putting him between a rock and a hard place. On one hand he knows his core vote is evolving into a younger audience of left leaning under to mid-thirties who feel let down by the previous generation and as such feel that their opportunities are much more limited than their forbearers.
This is however made much more complicated by the virtue that a majority of this demographic are pro-remain, which is in direct conflict with Corbyn, and by extension Labour’s, position on the subject. It’s clear that Remainers within their ranks have felt Corbyn’s reluctance to openly commit Labour to a People’s Vote regardless of who’s deal is eventually on the table is a cop out, and have accordingly abandoned ship to the Greens and the Lib Dems.
Conversely however Brexiteer Labour supporters have found themselves in a similar position to their Remain cousins. Corbyn’s insistence on playing both sides without firmly committing in one direction or another has left them feeling betrayed by Labour.
It’s all rather messy to be honest. At least The Tories lack of ambiguity on their Brexit position means they could brace for voters they thought they might lose any way. Labours position meant they couldn’t really work out which direction they might take hits from. Will it be dissatisfied Remainers? Or dissatisfied Leavers?
Well it looks like both to me. As one of Labours own MP’s so aptly put it ‘if you sit on the fence for too long you end up with splinters in your backside.’ That’s what has happened here. In Corbyn’s own reluctance to firmly commit to a position regarding a Second Referendum he has shot himself in the foot as Remainers appear to have woken up to the fact Labour is a Leaveparty, while Leavers feel he is maybe not as firm on actually Brexiting as he makes out. If neither side can trust your intentions then why should they vote for you?
And isn’t that just it, we can no longer trust the leadership of The Big Two. May and Corbyn come across as equally self-serving in protecting their own desires for power. May at least has the good graces to be unable to hide how out of her depth she is. Corbyn on the other hand prefers to hide behind his ineptitude/hypocrisy/pandering to both sides under the spiel of trying to bring both sides together while actually pushing them further apart.
The only difference between the two is one is currently in Number Ten and one isn’t.