Labour has it all to play for at the next election | Letters

Les Summers thinks the next election is as open as any has ever been, while Dr Tim Williamson says a proportional voting system is essential. Plus Daniel Peacock and John Airs on Labour infighting

“Are the Tories turning Britain into a one-party state?” asks the headline on Andy Beckett’s article (18 April). The answer is no. The mantra that Labour has lost four general elections is inaccurate. The 2010 election did not deliver a majority government and Labour could have continued in office had the Liberal Democrats chosen to support them.

They certainly lost in 2015 but by no means to a large majority, which Theresa May then threw away for no good reason in 2017. The only reason that Labour was kept out of office – or at least the Tories were kept in place – was that the DUP decided to give their support on the basis of a political bribe.

Only in 2019 did Labour lose badly, and the reasons for that are clear enough: the Corbyn leadership, mixed messages about Brexit, and a manifesto detached from reality. The Tories might currently have an 80-seat overall majority, and a section of the electorate might think they are doing a good job dealing with Covid-19, but the scandal of the Tory maladministration of the NHS has yet to have its full effect on electoral opinion. The next election, four years hence, is as open as any has ever been.
Les Summers
Tackley, Oxfordshire

• Andy Beckett asks a question that concerns us all. He makes several references to the UK as a functioning democracy and as such he struggles to explain how the UK is turning into a one-party state. A democracy should allow citizens a chance to direct their government according to their wishes. It has to acknowledge a fundamental truth that every one of us has our own unique set of values and opinions.

We thus need a range of political parties to represent that range of diverse views. The first-past-the-post voting system is therefore anti-democratic, just allowing one “winner” to take all. It invites nationalism and populism, which the Conservatives can offer. A proportional voting system is essential in a democracy and would allow voters to elect a range of different parties.

There are plenty of other reasons why Conservatives have maintained their political power – a favourable press, better party funding, effective use of social media with Facebook and so on. But the most significant factor, and the one that has wide-reaching benefits to the political health of the UK, is PR.
Dr Tim Williamson
Bath

• The Tories are not turning Britain into a one-party state – Labour are. The Corbyn era turned a once credible centre-left party into a hard-left personality cult riven by factional infighting and more concerned about “winning the argument” than getting elected. Even after the recent election of Keir Starmer, Momentum put out a statement praising the previous leadership for having “doubled the number of socialist MPs” – despite the fact that Labour now has fewer MPs than at any point since 1935. For as long as such attitudes prevail in the party at large, the Tories will be invulnerable.
Daniel Peacock
Manchester

• Ironic that Andy Beckett thinks “our democracy is healthier now than in the Blair years”. Try telling that to the members of the Labour party who now know for certain that a faction of their party worked to undermine the democratically elected leadership, twice costing them an election (Labour’s Iain McNicol steps down from Lords role after report leak, 15 April).
John Airs
Liverpool

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