An excerpt from my latest column for the International New York Times, on the results of the Stoke-on-Trent and Copeland by-elections in England, and their meaning for national politics:
As party leader, Mr Corbyn has been a disaster. He is opposed by a majority of Labour members of Parliament, and has signally failed to win popular support outside the party’s base. Yet the party’s problem goes much deeper than its leadership. At the heart of its crisis lies the question: What is the Labour Party for?
Labour lost its status as the party of the working class long ago. A recent opinion poll on party popularity found that among working-class voters, Labour had fallen far below the Conservatives and even into third place behind UKIP. Over the past 30 years, Labour, like many social-democratic parties, has transformed itself into a party appealing primarily to the metropolitan middle class, a large proportion of which voted to remain in the European Union. In the wake of the referendum, many such supporters are switching allegiance to the Liberal Democrats, the most pro-European of British political parties. One poll suggested that the Liberal Democrats could overtake Labour at the next general election.
The trouble with Labour is that the party simply no longer works. It is neither a social-democratic nor a liberal party, neither a plausible alternative government nor an effective opposition. It is difficult to know how it could find a role in today’s Britain.
Read the full article in the International New York Times