Kevin Maguire writes:
Labour can win in 2020.
There, somebody’s said it.
I’m not claiming it will, but the party could realistically pull off a victory of sorts in five years.
The prospect is sobering when Labour resembles a drunken pub brawl, leadership gangs hurling glasses and throwing chairs at each other in a riot that would have cops demanding the local licensing committee shut the unruly party joint down.
An overall majority in the Commons may be a mountain peak too high to scale when David Cameron’s Conservative coup involves cutting 50 mainly Labour elected MPs under electoral boundary changes.
And putting Tory cronies in the unelected House of Lords for good measure.
Yet it’s conceivable Labour might be the largest party when it starts with 232 seats, almost three dozen more than the 198 the Tories held at the 2005 election before Cameron staggered into Downing Street in 2010.
Scotland’s gone from Labour stronghold to black hole in the blink of a poll and the SNP won’t be rolled back soon, if ever, while the UKIP Purple Shirts and the woolly Greens nibble away.
But a Tory Party gloating over a flukey majority on the back of 24% of the electorate is far from impregnable.
Labour’s vote increase was nearly double that of the Cons – up 1.5% against their 0.8% – and Cameron owes his extended tenancy to the Tory cannibalisation of coalition Lib Dems.
Conservatives will eat themselves in the schismatic referendum on Europe and struggle to repair the split party.
Austerity – biting into public services this Parliament much deeper than in the last – will revolt the public. We’ve already had a taste with the broken promise on social care for the vulnerable and elderly.
Decent people everywhere will unite in revulsion at welfare cuts when they wake up to George Osborne slashing living standards of hardworking families and destroying the aspirations of students from poorer homes.
Robust political and policy debate is healthy between the contestants for Ed Miliband’s tarnished crown.
There are genuine differences and disagreements between Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Jeremy Corbyn.
Bloodletting is inevitable when the party is angry, confused and dazed so soon after losing an election that many of its leading figures and activists expected to win.
But the four should sit down and jointly appeal for cool from rabid supporters. Or whoever wins will lack respect and be unable to impose her or his authority.
No wonder Cameron and his heir apparent George Osborne are sitting back, sipping champagne and enjoying the Labour fracas. Labour may yet wipe the smile off the faces of the Tory Buller Boys.
To win in 2020, however, Labour must be credible – and the party’s doing itself no favours at the moment.
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