Honestly it really was meant as a joke…honest guv! A few months ago I wrote a bit of a tongue in cheek post about the likelihood of Jeremy Corbyn being elected Prime Minister and listed all the things that I thought needed to take place before he had a chance. I put the chances of all the improbable events coming together s about 1% so in other words not very likely. However, since then the Government lost the article 50 court case (Event No. 1) – the appeal is being heard by the Supreme Court next week with a decision being delivered in January. The feeling is that the chances of the Government winning the appeal is less than 50%.
The fourth improbable event on my list was that some form of grand progressive coalition is formed. It is still far too early to say this is going to happen but the recent by election at Richmond might just be the first movement in the political tectonic plates. Now it is very very dangerous to read anything into one by election but other things are starting to move. The first is that UKIP has elected a leader who is really aiming to replace Labour in Northern England. Unlike his predecessors he has one really important thing going for him – he is from Liverpool and talks like someone who really means business as far as the north of England is concerned. The Labour party is really really concerned by all this , or at least they should be but it is difficult to know what the Labour party is thinking at the moment, because they have lost so much ground that any slippage in their standing in the north will mean the final end to any hope of forming a government on their own. In fact it could be much worse than that as they could become a relic hanging on in metropolitan and other city areas. This would still give them a significant number of seats but nothing like the numbers they once had – maybe no more than 150 – a further loss of another 80 or so seats. Perhaps far worse for Labour, and the country, would be that there would be a right wing majority in Parliament for the foreseeable future with a large number of UKIP MPs pressurising the Conservative party to go even further right.
I wrote back in September was that there was a 10% chance of Labour realising the game is up as far as being able to form a government on their own however Richmond demonstrates that when one progressive candidate stands she/he really has a chance of winning as there is no split in the vote on the left. Labour did put up a candidate but he couldn’t even get all the members of the local Labour Party to vote for him and lost his deposit. Prior to the by election some MPs were urging the Labour Leadership to think the unthinkable after it perhaps we can start to expect more noises along these lines – especially those MPs who are sitting on very shaky northern seats who look at the Lib/Dem vote as a possible life saver – this is even before you try to factor in the effects of the boundary changes. If this were to happen, still a big if but certainly not as big as it was prior to Richmond, then you might get a united progressive and disunited right. However, if Labour did do go down this way there is no certainty that the voters would play ball in the way that they want and you might end up with a Tory UKIP coalition – now that would make for interesting times!
There are still too many variables to say what is going to happen but the chances of the start of a reformation of progressive politics in Britain has increased. The Sleaford by election coming up soon may give some more indicators. Labour came second at the last election and if their vote was to collapse and move significantly towards the Lib Dems then this may well provide added force to the argument. Equally we should see just how successful UKIP are at splitting the ring wing vote and should they win overturning a Tory majority of 24k then this would really worry the Labour party and cause absolute mayhem within the Conservative government. Remember we now live in a post Brexit, Trump world so anything is now possible. This is even before you have to take into account that by elections do throw up strange decisions.
So there is a strange smell in the air. As to what is the cause is far too early to tell. Just incase you thought this a nightmare I have two words for you that will make you realise we really aren’t in Kansas anymore. Brexit. Trump.
Need I say any more?