Millions of people turned away from Labour during its 13 years in power. There’s only one way it can win them backby Peter Kellner / October 17, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
A builder reads the Sun on 30th September 2009, when the newspaper dropped its support for the Labour party after 12 years
A single, stark statistic ricocheted round Labour’s annual conference this autumn: that during the party’s 13 years in power it lost five million votes. In the Blair landslide of 1997, 13.5m people voted Labour. By 2010 the figure was down to 8.6m.
The challenge now is to win the defectors back. How can this be done? Labour-supporting blogs offer different ideas. A new pressure group, “Five Million Votes,” was set up in July. A growing number of activists are joining the debate. All of them face the same problem. They have no firm evidence on which to base their plans. Has Labour lost votes by diluting its progressive ideals? Or has it not done enough to secure the centre ground from David Cameron’s assaults? Has the party suffered from too much New Labour thinking—or too little? Has the time come to bury the politics of triangulation or to revive it? The argument rages, but the data has been absent.