The problems are both mathematical and philosophicalby Stephen Bush / May 3, 2017 / Leave a comment
The moment it should have been obvious that Jeremy Corbyn was going to win the 2015 Labour leadership election was when Progress Magazine asked all four candidates why Labour had lost the last general election.
Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall all responded with some manner of vague bafflegab. Corbyn, however, had an answer that was simple, memorable, and right: “Because we didn’t get enough votes.”
Two years on, Labour is just weeks away from another election in which it looks likely to once again end up with not enough votes to get the Tories out of No 10.
But perhaps there’s a solution. Labour could take its votes and add them to the votes of the parties of the centre and centre-left: the Greens, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party. Perhaps all of them, added together, would be enough to get the Conservatives out of office. You could call it a “progressive alliance.” The idea has attracted heavyweight support—Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Greens, and Jon Cruddas, Ed Miliband’s former policy chief, are among the heavyweights endorsing the scheme in a recent letter to the Observer.
It’s a beautiful idea—but there’s just one problem. It doesn’t work. There’s an immediate mathematical problem. Even if you were able to guarantee that not a single person currently backing Labour, the Greens, the SNP or the Liberal Democrats would be put off by the arrangement, more often than not, the combined forces of progressive parties haven’t even been enough to equal, let alone surpass, that of the Conservative Party in the bulk of the polls taken since Theresa May announced this snap election.