How to fight the Tories’ electoral dominance | Letters

Labour must aim for broad appeal with moderate, centre-left policies, says John Mills. However, David Cockayne argues that all opposition parties need to work together for a fairer voting system, while Ken Richardson hopes that people won’t get conned by the rightwing press again

Mary Barber asks how we can persuade the electorate to vote for a party committed to building a society with first-class public services, decent housing and a fair income for all (Getting into and out of the mess that Britain is in, Letters, 15 January). The pandemic has highlighted the effects of underfunding public services and levels of inequality in our country, which I believe many people will want to see addressed by a future government. The only way that is likely to be achieved is by having a Labour government with a decent working majority, but after the rout at the 2019 election the party has a mountain to climb in 2024 (or possibly sooner).

One way is to look to form a progressive coalition with the SNP and Lib Dems, but such arrangements tend to be viewed negatively by many voters. So if Labour wants to govern on its own it will have to persuade people who wouldn’t normally vote Labour to vote Labour. A radical manifesto such as the one presented in December last year is unlikely to have sufficient broad appeal, so a moderate centre-left programme has to be crafted that can begin to address the issues she raises. It will need to be presented by a leader who is not considered completely unelectable by large swathes of the population, and at least with Keir Starmer that issue seems to have been resolved.
John Mills

• Mary Barber says that the electorate must be persuaded to vote for a party that would provide better policies than the current government. I wholly agree but am very unsure if this would be “a party”.

The Electoral Reform Society has shown that for many years most of the UK’s electorate has voted for parties proposing different policies to the Conservatives. This was the case in 2019, when the Conservatives took 56% of seats on only 44% of the vote. The current government is unlikely to agree to electoral reform, which would reduce its vote.

Therefore, all of the parties opposing them at the next election need to work together to replace our broken first-past-the-post system to ensure that we have more representative governments in future. A joint manifesto commitment may be the only way to achieve this. I doubt whether any one party promising electoral reform can get elected in the near future. It’s time to show that the majority view counts and that it is not being reflected in government.
David Cockayne
Lymm, Cheshire

• In his book Despised, Paul Embery says the lefty “liberal elite” and their detachment from the true, eyes-wide-open working class explains Labour’s fate in the 2019 election. That doesn’t answer the question put by Mary Barber: why did they then vote for the real elite, kissing the hand that robs them, choosing those truly shredding the foundations of working-class communities and livelihoods?

The answer was recognised a century ago: those who own the media own the country. That’s why Tony Blair preferred parading New Labour’s compromises in Rupert Murdoch’s parlour to joining the bands at the Durham miners’ gala.

People do get conned by the Tory-dominated media. Worse, there are signs that a similar flight-of-compromise is now being contemplated by a new New Labour. First tragedy, then farce? I don’t think the results will be very funny.
Ken Richardson
Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland


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