Thoughts on the Richmond Park by-election result
The Labour party incomprehensibly decided to run a kamikaze Labour candidate in the Richmond Park by-election, thereby risking diverting enough votes from the LibDem challenger to let the discredited Zac Goldsmith (Tory but running as an independent) back in. Happily this didn’t happen, thanks to the good sense of the Richmond voters who rightly saw this as a two-horse race in which by far the better runner was the LibDem. So Labour, sadly but entirely predictably, was wiped out and its candidate lost his deposit.
In reply to people on the Labour website LabourList who argued that it was right to run a Labour candidate because the LibDems aren’t really “progressive” — they voted for student tuition fees in the coalition government, for goodness sake — I posted the following comment:
I struggle to understand how anyone can seriously argue that Labour was right to field a candidate in this by-election. Doing so could predictably have one of only two possible results: (1) Labour, with absolutely no hope of winning the seat, could have diverted enough votes from the only serious challenger, the LibDem, to split the anti-Goldsmith vote, thus allowing Goldsmith to win, which would have been in effect a victory for the Tory government, preserving its majority: or else (2) Labour would (and did) suffer the humiliation of being heavily defeated and losing its candidate’s deposit, thus reinforcing the strong impression that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is completely irrelevant, with its impenetrable but cowardly position on Brexit (both for it and against it, for heaven’s sake) and its complete lack of a coherent policy on any other issue since the Spanish civil war.
Fortunately it is the second of these that came to pass – “fortunately” because it was always the lesser of the two evils. It should be obvious by now, even to the most passionate Labour tribalist, that Labour on its own has not got a cat’s chance in hell of winning a general election in the foreseeable future. That being so, the only way to replace this blundering reactionary Tory government is for the left-of-centre, progressive parties to co-operate on the extensive policies and values that they have in common in order to form a government with majority support in parliament. Shrilly denouncing the LibDems as “not progressive” or attacking the SNP because it’s for Scottish secession is delusional and politically illiterate.
There’s plenty of scope for selective cooperation with both, plus the Greens and Plaid and others, with the vital common purpose of getting the Tories out. Those who prefer their precious socialist purity to that reality are guilty of betraying the millions whose lives are blighted by Tory policies of austerity and inequality and whose only hope of a decent future depends on a progressive alliance government, either in a new coalition of the centre-left or as a minority Labour government with agreed support from the other progressive parties. Not as good as a majority Labour government, but a heck of a lot better than the +sole+ alternative, which is Tory government as far ahead as the eye can see — quite possibly in some kind of unholy alliance with UKIP.
Time to wake up to the realities, and to take responsibility for the foreseeable consequences of our actions. Which those responsible for the utterly perverse decision to run a Labour candidate in Richmond Park conspicuously failed to do.
Statements of the obvious!