Labour’s struggles are not good for democracy in UK

Tony Blair, the former Labour leader and prime minister, is right to warn that the party he helped to restore as an electoral force in the 1990s now faces a fight for its very future.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 19th December 2019, 10:26 am
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 1:55 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Ravaged by a fourth successive general election defeat and staring down the barrel of the Tories’ biggest majority in the House of Commons since the days of Margaret Thatcher, the Labour Party is at its lowest ebb for over two decades.

The party was unelectable during the days of Michael Foot and history has repeated itself with Jeremy Corbyn.

In the fall-out from Labour’s election humiliation last Friday, it is remarkable that Mr Corbyn didn’t immediately fall on his sword. Any self-respecting leader would have tendered his resignation once the full scale of the losses had become apparent.

But instead Mr Corbyn is hanging on until a successor is elected, a strategy that seems more about using his influence to ensure the new Labour leader is a Corbynite than anything else.

Mr Corbyn and Labour are paying the price for their role in delaying Brexit. At no stage during the last two years did Mr Corbyn even attempt to help facilitate Britain’s exit from the European Union. Instead, he attempted to use Brexit for his own ends, blocking every attempt made by either Theresa May or Boris Johnson to break the deadlock.

What is most significant about Labour’s demise is that voters in their heartlands in the north of England deserted them in their droves. Middle England was never going to vote Corbyn but the fact that constituencies like Mr Blair’s former patch at Sedgefield in the north east of England voted Tory is a damning indictment of the party’s recent direction.

It is critical for democracy that there is a strong Opposition. Britain needs an effective Labour Party. It won’t get it while the likes of Mr Corbyn or John McDonnell are at the helm. The new leader must be progressive like Mr Blair was in 1994.