Wednesday 10 June 2009

Vote Labour, get Tory

Following on from my previous post about the European results in this constituency, perhaps I should issue a stark warning to Labour voters that, if they vote for the Labour Party, they will end up with a Tory MP. It's as sensible - or as silly, depending on perspective - as Peter Hain's fatuous message to the effect that if anyone dares to vote for anything other than Labour, then they will end up with a Tory government.

Hain's words are wrong, and on so many levels.

Firstly, there is an assumption that anyone who isn't a particular fan of the Conservatives would necessarily and automatically prefer the Labour Party, regardless of the performance, policies, and personalities of that party.

Secondly, it depends on persuading people to vote against something rather than for anything - a sad reflection on what Labour has become, but unfortunately not an attitude which is unique to Hain.

Thirdly, it overlooks the fact that some people might actually want to support a party other than Labour – some of them might even have made a positive choice to support the Tories.

And fourthly, there's almost a degree of arrogance underlying the statement – and this goes to the heart of where Labour is going so badly wrong in Wales. Labour need to learn that they don't have an eternal right to the support of the people of Wales; they have to earn it, and keep earning it at future elections. For too long, they've simply taken Wales for granted in electoral terms.

We currently have a Labour government which was elected with the support of around 35% of those who voted. All the indications are that we will shortly have a Conservative government, also likely to be elected with around 35 – 36% of the vote.

Rather then trying to scare, hector, or bully those who voted for neither of those parties into voting for one of them in order to stop the other, a far more sensible way forward would be the introduction of PR. Encouraging a system where people's second choices could also count would be a far more constructive approach to politics than trying to scare them into voting for other than their first choice.

It would be more honest as well. And who knows – it might even benefit the Labour Party. And it's starting to look as if Brown, at least, might understand that.

No comments: