Chasing Conservative votes will not win us the next election….
Ed Miliband’s prodigious ability to get things totally wrong is becoming very vexing. In The Guardian today he is quoted as saying he ‘wants Conservative votes’ and that is how Labour ‘wins elections’. It sounds sensible enough but even a short logical examination shows it not to be true. First, let’s start with a blindingly obvious point – the Conservatives did not ‘win’ the last General Election. Properly winning an election means not just being the largest Party but being the largest Party and attaining a governing majority and they fall short on the second criteria.
So, even if we achieved the same vote share and vote mass as the Conservatives it would not win us the next election as Ed seems to think it would. Polling consistently shows that the people who voted Conservative last time are happy too again (the Conservatives are running at around a 90% retention rate) so in light of that, Ed’s stance looks even more like a prescription for a sore head (after alot of banging against a brick wall) rather than an election win.
At the last election, Labour saw a 6.2% swing against it, but only a fraction over half of that swing (3.8%) actually went to the Conservatives; their 10,706,647 votes represents under a quarter of the entire electorate and is around 1/3 of the actual votes cast. So, when you crunch the numbers the whole notion that Conservative votes win elections is nonsensical. Far more votes exist in addressing yourself to people who didn’t vote (some of whom will be lapsed Labour supporters, disillusioned with the direction the Party took under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) than ever will in addressing yourself to committed Conservative voters.
If the leadership pursues this strategy then it may appease the right-wing of the Party who want us to chase this group to bend the Party to its own ideological agenda but it wont win us the next election. So, please Mr Miliband stop pretending it will.