There are harsh political realities in the UK, which I would argue most Labour supporters, members and representatives are struggling to even recognise, let alone address. Crucial here, is that the Westminster electoral system massively favours the Conservatives and is making it increasingly difficult for Labour to form majority governments.
The recent past is not encouraging, it is 16 years since we last won a general election and that was on a falling tide after the giddy heights of 1997. When I met Tony Blair in 2012, (I was part of John Prescott`s team in the police commissioner election) we reflected on how he and Harold Wilson are the only two Labour leaders to deliver general election victories since I was born in 1959. The number for Conservative leaders is now seven. In crude terms, we keep losing because we are playing with rules that are stacked against us; equally significantly they are rules that are deeply undemocratic, produce dangerously divisive politics, with disastrous one party governance. Brexit and the pandemic have presented us with two huge, arguably existential, national crises. Tragically they have been mishandled by Conservative governments, which have no interest in consensus politics of any kind.
Few can be confident in how a divisive Prime Minister such as Boris Johnson will handle the Climate Change issues which will dwarf both that of Brexit and Covid.
Whatever else we do under Keir Starmer`s leadership, we must commit unequivocally to electoral reform, a policy that would then be supported by every party – except the Tory party. If Scotland does leave the Union, which grows ever more likely, our plight worsens. Even now we seem unable to compete with the SNP`s appeal north of the border. The pandemic has suggested that multi-party governments built on consensus, such as that of Finland, are far more likely to succeed in managing crises than the type of populist , mendacious, one party rule we have been lumbered with in the UK.
Gaining public understanding and support for a policy of delivering electoral reform is a massive challenge. We must, however, start that process now. There are many options for a reformed system, I would contend that a mixed model, of a type used successfully to elect the Scottish and Welsh parliaments, is the most expedient way to go. We can debate policy and election strategies until we are blue in the face – Labour members are good at that. But unless we commit to changing the rules of the game we are whistling in the wind and letting down those who most need our help; those suffering most under Conservative governments.