Bringing down the Tories

On Sunday 16th August the Guardian Observer ran a story on the London Mayoral elections which set out the Tory plan for losing that election. Losing the London Mayor race is not a problem for them, as their battle strategy is simply to cut all the powers of the London Mayor. This is par for the course. With the victory of the ERG faction inside the Tory Party, it is clear they are committed to establishing what is essentially an elected dictatorship. This is possible largely because of the weakness of the anti-Tory forces, led by Labour. 

On Monday 17th August LabourList ran its latest survey, which showed that 55% of respondents believe the Tories will win the next election, and Conservative Home, the parallel organization in the Tory Party, had 74% thinking the Tories will win. LabourList then ran a list of survey priorities from its small response group (7197 respondees of whom 5823 were Labour). I question the usefulness of discussing policies for Labour when its own respondents had no faith Labour would win the next election. When riding on the Titanic, why discuss where to dine out in New York?

 Labour cannot be too optimistic, it has to win extra 123 seats to get a majority of one, which no party has ever done.  Labour has no forum for addressing the issue. The next election is likely to be December 2024. At that time, majority politics can be put to one side and this seems to be Labour’s leadership strategy.

I believe that the Tory battle strategy is to not wait until December 2024 but to repeal the Fixed Term Parliament Act, and call an election sooner. Labour cannot stop them repealing the FTPA and should not do so. Labour’s strategy has to be taking the lead on repealing the FTPA, to expose and exploit the Tory weaknesses. We should go for an early election – which clearly cannot happen until COVID-19 is beaten.


 The Tory manifesto called for the repeal of the Fixed Term Parliament act and, once Brexit was done, to call an election when they could win it. I believe they also have an underlying strategy – not in the manifesto – to build an elected dictatorship. This is already rolling out and a vital part of the strategy is to remove all power centres but for Number 10. 

A few items from my emails over the last week suggested that the government has three priorities – Power Grab, Money Grab and Secret decision making. Good Law and Open Democracy have focussed on the huge amounts going to COVID-19 projects without competitive tender.  Left Foot Forward  published a report on the diversion of money to marginal seats at the last election. There is no Electoral Court to stop such gerrymandering.  Johnson tried to bury the (inadequate) Russia report – and when a Tory was elected to the select committee and published it, he was expelled from the Tory Party.

 Yet the Tories remain ahead in the polls, and Labour is crippled by being too cautious. Labour needs to immediately demand proper scrutiny of the EU deal, if there is one, and campaign it is put to a referendum (which Dominic Cummmings once claimed was the democratic option). Labour is unlikely to lead on this so a short life campaign is essential. The core tactic of an e-petition would not require more than a dozen or so volunteers in a working party and the e-petition must be up and running by the time Parliament resumes.

It is vital to challenge the Tory hard deadline of December 31st on Brexit and the secretive decision making taking place behind closed doors. The last 8 months have seen Labour be too cautious, and it is now time to challenge Johnson on his European record and then prepare to repeal the Fixed Term Parliament Act when it is time to do so. In the longer term, we have to understand why Labour lost 4 elections from 1979 to 1997, and have again lost 4 elections from 2010 to 2019,  looking like it will achieve an unprecedented 5 in a row. How can Labour become electable again?

Trevor Fisher

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