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< Back to question Why did Labour lose the 2019 UK general election? Show more Show less

On election night 2019, Labour supporters watched in horror as the count revealed Labour's worst election performance in recent history. In the wake of the party's worst night "since 1935", Labour members and analysts attempt to dissect what went wrong. Was it the party's stance on Brexit? An unpalatable leader in Jeremy Corbyn? Or a misguided election strategy?

Demographics Show more Show less

The age divide between Labour and Tory voters, as well as class and racial divisions, played to the Conservatives' favor.
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Labour lost its hold on working-class voters

The Corbyn led Labour was unable to hold onto the working-class voters that once helped them retain power. Corbyn's manifesto was too radical for rural heartland voters to support.
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The Argument

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour manifesto may have gained plaudits from the furthest left in the party, but it was too radical to gain any support among the rural heartland of the country. The Tories represented a much safer option for voters who are increasingly wary of politics.[1] The North was once the center of Labour support, but that support is now in the urban centers of England. The mostly working-class voters that occupy the smaller cities and rural regions in the North had no choice but to acquiesce towards the Tory platform, as it represented a much less radical solution to the problems they care about. Additionally, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's simple pledge to "get Brexit done," represents the no-nonsense approach to politics that is generally more palatable to this demographic of voters. The moral certainty of Corbyn also made some voters skittish. For this demographic, tradition and established values are core to their identities. The strong socialist identity of Corbyn and his uncompromising moral vision for the UK surely left a sour taste in the Heartland.[2] Amid Brexit, many of these voters were growing tired of the endless battles over the policy. With that in mind, signing on to a Labour platform that promised both economic and societal revolution was a bridge too far for a voting bloc growing tired of politics.[3] While Labour's policies were aimed at the working-class, perhaps these voters are more concerned about stability than change.

Counter arguments

Then Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn set out a bold strategy aimed at economic and societal renewal, primarily aimed at addressing socio-economic inequality in the UK. While it was a radical vision, it was aimed at helping the disaffected British working class. Among whom is the heartland, and their industrial and rural workers who once supported Labour in droves. During Tony Blair's leadership of the country, Labour began to neglect areas outside of the urban centers of Britain.[4] Corbyn's manifesto aimed to reclaim those lost voters with an economic policy that would redirect more wealth and services to the working class. The Conservatives' dishonest framing of Labour's policies likely dissuaded voters from embracing a platform that would have helped them most. Plus, the turmoil of an impending deadline on Brexit blinded the heartland to the longer-term benefits of electing Labour to lead the country. At any other time, Labour should have been the clear vote for this working-class demographic.

Premises

[P1] Corbyn's platform was too radical for rural voters. [P2] Rural voters have increasingly moved towards supporting the Conservatives [P3] Working class and rural voters have grown tired of the endless debates surrounding Brexit and sought a safer, more stable option. [C] The revolution promised by Corbyn was too risky for heartland voters who were ready for more stability in politics.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Corbyn's economic policies would have helped working-class and rural voters the most. [Rejecting P2] Rural support for the Tories is due to their framing of culture war issues like Brexit, not specifically Labour's platform. Rejecting P3] Brexit will decrease the economic opportunities for working-class voters, so the long parliamentary deliberation is necessary. [Rejecting C] The economic platform set out by Labour was aimed to help working-class Britain, and though radical, would ultimately have helped them more than the Conservatives' policies.

Proponents


References

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahtalbot/2018/05/10/will-the-uk-labour-party-reclaim-the-rural-heartlands/#15182f847b25
  2. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/corbyn-was-intensely-moral-never-working-class-hero/
  3. https://www.ft.com/content/e1028dda-ca49-11e9-a1f4-3669401ba76f
  4. https://www.economist.com/bagehots-notebook/2018/07/06/labour-is-no-longer-the-party-of-the-traditional-working-class

This page was last edited on Friday, 17 Jul 2020 at 18:04 UTC

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