What's the Future for Labour?

We are back for 2020 to talk about Labour's future after Corbyn. How can the party move the argument beyond Brexit? Does the voting system help or hinder Labour's chances of returning to power? And what to do about Scotland? Plus, we ask how much damage would be done if the next leader turns out to be the only man in the field. With Helen Thompson, Chris Brooke and Chris Bickerton.


Talking Points: 


Electoral Reform seems to be a perennial issue for the Labour Party.

  • Starmer says he wants to win a majority—but it’s hard to see how. 
  • Would electoral reform get Labour any closer to winning? 
  • In 1987, Tony Blair pointed out that there is a real risk of collapse for centre-left parties under proportional representation systems.
  • We often think of alliance politics as being anti-Tory, but look at 2010: sometimes it works the other way.
  • First Past the Post keeps Labour in place as the only alternative government.


Is England a broadly conservative country or an anti-conservative country whose electoral system doesn’t reflect society?

  • It’s hard to know—there does seem to be a core conservative voting bloc. 


One reason that pessimism isn’t evenly distributed in the Labour party despite the defeat is that people think the biggest problem was fighting an election with an unpopular leader.

  • Corbyn and Brexit may have been sufficient conditions for a Labour defeat.
  • Would Labour fare better with a different leader?
  • The generational divide poses a challenge—how can Labour appeal to over 65’s without alienating young people.


The leadership election appears to be Keir Starmer’s to lose.

  • Will the fact that he’s facing three women be a problem?
  • Rebecca Long-Bailey has a lot of prominent support, but she’s not a great media performer.


Mentioned in this Episode:


Further Learning: 


And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking

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