Labour is now the party of the big cities, but it's shrivelling in its heartlandsby Jonathan Derbyshire / May 8, 2015 / Leave a comment
Shortly before Christmas, I attended a conference on the future of the European left in Budapest. The British participants were particularly exercised by the fate of what David Goodhart, former editor of Prospect, called the “Hampstead-Humberside alliance”—the political union of the metropolitan liberal intelligentsia and industrial working class on which the Labour Party’s electoral fortunes had long been built.
Two numbers isolated from the blizzard of data disgorged by last night’s general election suggest that this alliance has unravelled—and they have serious implications for Labour. They are 45 and 7,951. The first is the number of seats won by Labour in London (an increase of seven on its haul in the 2010 election); the second is the number of votes cast for Ukip’s David Dews in the West Yorkshire constituency of Morley and Outwood, which helped to deprive Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, of a seat he’d held, in one form or another, for the past ten years. (In Humberside itself, Ukip showed up pretty well, even if they didn’t contribute to any Labour losses—it finished second to Labour in Hull East, and a close third behind Labour and the Conservatives in Great Grimsby, a seat Nigel Farage’s party had long coveted. In any case, for Goodhart’s purposes Humberside is as much a sociological category as a geographical one. In Bury North, for example, Ukip increased its share of the vote by 9.5 per cent, ensuring the Conservatives retained a marginal seat that had been on Labour’s target list.)