MPs and activists who argue that the party will fight for a majority on its own are urging Keir Starmer to lay the groundwork to cooperate with the Liberal Democrats and the Greens in the upcoming general election.
In a new report, called We Divide, They Conquer, progressive lobby group Compass sets out the scale of the electoral challenge Starmer’s party faces after last year’s general election.
He warns that the Labor Party would need to achieve a 10.52% swing, larger than Tony Blair in 1997 or Clement Attlee in 1945, to win the 124 seats Starmer needs to secure a fragile majority of one.
“The electoral facts point to a conclusion: Labor will fight to win alone. Then the party can choose to lose alone and remain in the opposition, or to build cross-party alliances, lead a new government and transform the democratic landscape, ”the report says.
While Boris Johnson’s Tories would need just a 3.18% swing against him to lose their majority, the Liberal Democrats are in a better position to take some of the Tories’ most vulnerable seats.
The report, written by activists Grace Barnett and Neal Lawson, identifies 59 seats it calls “progressive tragedies,” where the combined vote of Labor and Liberal Democrats would have been enough to beat the Conservatives and the Brexit party in 2019.
They include London constituencies like Wimbledon, Finchley and Golders Green, and Hendon, as well as “red wall” seats like Bury North, Derby North, and Bolton North East.
There is a history of fierce tribal enmity between Labor and Liberal Democratic activists at the grassroots level, but the report highlights areas of political agreement.
These include a significant increase in green investment; reform or replacement of universal credit; end the hard dream and reform or abolish the House of Lords.
But the authors argue that a commitment to backing a more proportional voting system would open the door to a much closer relationship with other progressive parties, which have long supported the idea.
Labor who are firmly committed to backing public relations would be a game changer for Lib Democrats and Greens, incentivizing them to campaign and vote tactically. This would make it easier for progressives to elect a Labor-led administration with a great democratic mandate to introduce public relations, ”they say.
During his leadership campaign, Starmer said, “We have to address the fact that millions of people vote in safe seats and feel like their vote doesn’t count,” though he did not go on to explain an alternative.
Compass is forming groups of Labor, Liberal Democrats and Green activists who will work to build cross-party ties and cooperate on shared political priorities.
Labor MP Clive Lewis will present the report at an event Monday along with Democratic MP and former leadership candidate Layla Moran, Green MP Caroline Lucas and SNP MP Tommy Sheppard.
Lewis described the current electoral system as “like a monopoly game where the conservatives are always the bankers.”
When asked how the Labor leadership should prepare to collaborate with other parties, he said: “It’s about humility – it’s about accepting that you don’t have a monopoly on wisdom. There are still many people in the Parliamentary Labor Party who think that only with the right leader and the right policies can we win outright and dictate the future. But the future is not going to be dictated, it is going to be negotiated ”.
Lib Dem leader Ed Davey has made clear that his focus is on rebuilding the party after the overwhelming electoral defeat that saw his predecessor Jo Swinson lose her seat.
But Lib Dem sources pointed out that the most plausible way to oust Johnson from Downing Street involved Lib Dems, as well as Labor, taking Tory seats.
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