In 1950 UK wide turnout was 84 per cent. In 1997 it was 71 per cent but it fell to 59 per cent in 2001. It crept up to 66 per cent in 2015, but only 24 per cent of the electorate voted for the Conservatives, 20 per cent for Labour, 22 per cent for other parties and 34 per cent didn’t vote. Some 7.5 million eligible adults no longer bother to register to vote and registration is being made harder as people more often have to rent privately, move rented home more frequently, and have to register individually at every move. A growing number of people are not eligible to vote at Westminster elections because they were born elsewhere in Europe. The true proportions of adults living in the UK who voted for either Labour or Conservative in the general election of May 2015 will be far less than 40 per cent. It may be as low as a third when all those not allowed to vote are included.
In 1950 only 25 per cent of the electorate did not vote for either the Conservatives or Labour. Furthermore, almost everyone who could be registered to vote was registered. We still had identity cards. Now a majority, 56 per cent of the electorate, do not give the two main parties their vote, as do millions of others who are not registered to vote but could be. The majority of UK voters were dissatisfied with the status quo in May 2015. The UK electoral stage is now set for other possibilities.
Because they are now such a huge group, the best strategy for Labour to increase its share of the vote is to target people who, vote for minor parties and the much larger groups have given up voting or even registering to vote. This includes those who are disillusioned with the main parties and voted for another, and all the new potential voters turning 18 since 2015. Combined, this group constitute more than twice the number of all the people who voted Conservative in 2015. Labour do not need to put so their efforts and angst into appealing to Conservative voters to switch to Labour. Clever Conservative politicians know and now fear this. Sadiq Khan won the London Mayoral election in May 2016, along with the three other English Labour Mayors, while the local Labour vote rose across in England from a year ago because the wishes of the British people are changing, and because of the Corbyn effect. In Scotland where Labour has not yet changed, the party fared badly. …
Labour could make it clear it would consider coalition government. Most importantly it should make clear how much it now has in common with the Green party. John McDonnell’s call for proportional representation to be in the next Labour manifesto could be accompanied by the understanding of where the ten constituencies in England are where the Green’s could do better than Labour and where it would be good if they focussed almost all of their efforts in a future general election. The Conservatives and Liberals played this trick in Sheffield Hallam in May 2015, which is why Nick Clegg is still an MP. However, in the nearby city of Chester no green candidate stood and so Labour narrowly won what would have otherwise have been a Conservative seat. They could both be hundreds of Chesters in 2020 and a few more Green MPs in parliament.
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