Is Britain just too comfortable for the Labour Party?

If things were that bad for as many people as Ed Miliband made out, he'd surely have won by a landslide


The rhetoric from the Labour Party in the lead up to the General Election in May made Britain sound like a post-apocalyptic nightmare; half the country enjoying daily champagne baths while the other half scratched a living in a frozen wasteland.

Miliband did a lot of talking about all the struggling people out there who deserved a better Britain. He talked of despairing people on zero-hours contracts who didn’t earn enough to feed their families.

He gave plentiful examples of disabled people struggling to get by because the bedroom tax left them unable to fend for themselves. He talked of nurses, doctors, teachers, police officers and firefighters desperately underpaid and overworked to breaking point due to Tory cuts to the public sector.

That’s a hell of a lot of people you’d think must have been desperate to turf out the Tories at the first opportunity, in favour of a left-leaning government-in-waiting poised and ready to save the day.

A Unite survey in the midst of the election battle estimated that 5.5 million people were working on zero-hours contracts. The Department for Work and Pensions puts the number of disabled people in the UK at 12 million and those with a disabled person in their family numbering four times that figure.

There are almost half a million nurses and 150,000 doctors employed by the NHS, along with 1.3 million staff working in our schools and 130,000 police officers and 40,000 fire fighters keeping us safe.

Without even beginning to count the 2 million unemployed people, 2 million students and millions of others that must have been affected by the Tories and their war on the have-nots, that’s the votes for a healthy majority government right there for the taking. In fact, if they all came out to vote, Labour might have won every single seat on offer, let alone the election.

Then when the time came for Britain’s voting public to choose who it wanted to run the country, Labour garnered a paltry nine million votes and lost the election. The question is, if things were really as terrible as Ed Miliband et al had spent the last five years telling us, why did so few of these persecuted millions feel compelled to vote Labour?

The fact is, while there is clearly an unacceptable number of people living through terrible experiences because of what the Tories were then doing, and now will continue to do for the next five years, that number simply isn’t as big as the Labour campaign would have us believe. If it was, Labour would surely have won by a landslide.

Labour now has to face up to the fact that for most people, including many of the teachers, doctors, nurses, students disabled people and zero-hours contract workers, things really can’t be that bad. They might not be all that good for a lot of people, but it certainly could be worse.

There are a lot of people who are just about comfortable, and that’s enough. Enough to vote Tory for some, enough to not bother voting at all for many others. And most importantly of all, enough not to risk voting Labour for all but a few.

With the leadership contest now in full swing, there are worrying signs that the Labour Party hasn’t learned a thing from its embarrassing defeat at the General Election. In fact, in its panic to be different, there is a danger it could lurch further left, decreasing the size of the available voting pool still further.

Of course, calls for change are to be expected, and are necessary, but there are few clear signs that any of the candidates really understand what that change should entail – Jeremy Corbyn aside.

It’s a grim situation when the candidate making the most impact is the one who all the evidence suggests will take Labour’s 30 per cent vote share of 2015 and halve it in 2020. What it does show is the power of a clear vision, however suicidal that vision might be.

Much of the rhetoric from Burnham, Kendall and Cooper still features a muddle of references to the plight of the embattled few rather than setting out a clear vision on what matters to the many.

It may seem heartless to suggest, but the Labour Party should consider that perhaps the best way to help those experiencing really desperate times in this country is to communicate with the many more who aren’t.

It’s the only way to win power. Without which, Labour aren’t in a position to begin helping anyone.

Louis Clark writes on business and politics at and is a member of the Chingford & Woodford Green Labour Party.

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43 Responses to “Is Britain just too comfortable for the Labour Party?”

  1. Patrick Nelson

    “half the country enjoying daily champagne baths while the other half scratched a living in a frozen wasteland.”

    No, a few percent in the champagne bath the bulk bumbling along and a growing underclass who may as well be scratching about in a frozen wasteland for all the comfort and succour that society wishes to give them.

  2. madasafish

    It may seem heartless to suggest, but the Labour Party should consider that perhaps the best way to help those experiencing really desperate times in this country is to communicate with the many more who aren’t”

    Well you are correct, The voters you need to persuade are in Tory held seats in England.. And guess what? Most were held in 2015 with increased majorities.. (Our local one doubled.. it was marginal, now it’s safe)

    Never mind, Labour party activists are not bright enough to recognise it. They still think they should turn left .. despite no left wing Government elected in the UK since the 1970s.. A lot support Mr Corbyn… which proves my point..

    I blame the education system – run by left wingers..Or their parents.

    PS: Labour are currently working hard entrenching the message: Labour are the Party for benefit claimants..

  3. Robert Allen

    This sort of talk very nearly cost Harriet her job.


    Maybe what you call the underclass are perfectly happy living in their environment. What do you suggest they should do.

  5. Patrick Nelson

    Vote Labour and kick the Tories out in 2020.


    And still live in their environment?

  7. RickB


  8. Kathy Fletcher

    There was no clear vision of any kind. Most people didn’t have a clue what Labour’s policies were; those who did have a clue didn’t think they could deliver. Whichever idiot decided not to challenge the myth of Labour causing the crash, refused to engage with issues around immigration, ignored the millions missing from the electoral roll & decided on last minute ‘retail offers’ rather than a developed & communicated policy package, bears much of the responsibility for the size of the defeat. If they don’t sack the advisers, we’ll lose in 2020 regardless of the policies.

  9. Alison lush

    Totally agree Kathy. As a lifelong Labour supporter, I nearly didn’t bother to vote because Labour didn’t seem to be standing for anything different from the Tories, and certainly weren’t challenging the myths around austerity and the need for the swingeing cuts that are affecting the worst off . I am sure people who are quite comfortable, myself included , would oppose the attempts of this government to trash the things that we treasure about this country, especially the NHS and welfare state , and would be uneasy with the increase in gap between rich and poor. The probably knock on effects on crime and physical and mental health should convince any sensible person austerity is not the way. It’s just not being communicated well enough except by a few.

  10. stevep

    The statement “there is a danger it(Labour) could lurch further left” makes me shake my head in despair.
    It`s The UK that`s lurched to the right over the last 35 years in a desperate search for the American dream in Britain. The dream more resembles a nightmare, with increasing insecurity and poverty for millions and more wealth for the few. The Labour Party has gone along with it in a misguided attempt to court popularity, successful for a while, holding onto the coat tails of the right in a bid to be the popular party. Successful for a few years, but delivered Tory-lite policies.
    If lurching to the left means re-establishing decent, caring, more democratic values in our country, then I`m all for it.
    Power is won by those with a clear vision of how things could be and putting the ideas across simply and effectively.

  11. Selohesra

    Things may be tough but enough of the electorate were smart enough to realise that to make things better you need a stronger economy which in turn allows you to spend more on NHS etc. Labour refused, at least until it was too late, to accept responsibility for their collossal failings in managing the economy and so were not seen as credible answer this time round.

  12. JoeDM

    Take for example Zero Hours Contracts. Only just over 2% of the population are on these and of those about half see the flexibility they offer as a good thing !!!

    Labour and the unions banged on about them as if it was a major issue for most of the people.

  13. JoeDM

    A racist, anti-English, protest vote stoked up by the SN(for Nazi)P

  14. Patrick Nelson

    You mean the environment created by three decades neoliberalism? Hopefully the next Labour leader will become Prime Minister in 2020 and start to improve that environment by doing such things as ending zero hours contracts and other abuses of employees whilst creating a situation where the workers have a voice, by establishing a real living wage not the Tory jokeshop version, by ending DWP abuses of the unemployed and disabled, by building affordable houses on a massive scale to end the artificially limited supply and restoring the NHS and protecting it for future generations. These things would be liable to have a massive effect upon that environment.

  15. Patrick Nelson

    You know when you say “the underclass are perfectly happy living in their environment” and knowing that by “environment” in this case we are talking about their economic and social reality…

    …then you sound rather like those 19th century Parliamentarians when they thought the difficult conditions faced by the poor were the natural order.

    What should they do? People without wealth or influence are mostly doing what they can to keep their heads above water. It is a moral imperative that those who actually do have power and influence use it to help those who don’t and create an egalitarian society not a highly unequal one.

    David Cameron and George Osborne on the other hand are sending us hurtling faster and faster into a pit of growing wealth disparities and discomfort for the poor and the weak.

  16. Cole

    Huh? Didn’t we have a Labour government from 1997 to 2010. Maybe it wasn’t very left wing, but it certainly wasn’t Conservative. And it’s highly unlikely the party will vote for Corbyn.

  17. stevep

    There was no need for Labour to apologise for mishandling the economy, they didn`t. Gordon Brown managed the economy well before, during and after the banking crisis that nearly brought the world to It`s knees. World leaders and eminent economists acknowledged that. Indeed, The Tories pledged to match Labour spending prior to the 2010 election.
    If you want to discuss a badly managed economy let`s discuss the Tory-led government of the last 5 years: Two recessions, the loss of our triple-A credit rating and a politically-motivated austerity doctrine that has brought misery and poverty to millions.

  18. Robin Green

    “the Labour Party should consider that perhaps the best way to help those experiencing really desperate times in this country is to communicate with the many more who aren’t.”

    Of course, and this is just normal behaviour for a political party – unless it thinks that education, health, and all the other stuff that the majority of people care about it is all hunky-dory and doesn’t need any changes or funding increases at all. Labour’s biggest mistake was to promise even less of an NHS spending increase than the Tories, thus signalling that they were even more committed to holding down spending in core areas than the Tories. I don’t disagree with your conclusion, but it’s hardly some kind of profound insight that no-one’s ever thought of before.

  19. Selohesra

    Two recessions? There was only one and it started under Labour. No double dip, no tripple dip – they were just wishful thinking of the two Eds and the BBC. That you are still in denial about Labour’s mismanagement is yet more evidence to the rest of the electorate that it is still not safe to give Labour another chance

  20. RickB

    You’re funny.

  21. Peter Arnott

    People don’t vote for the left because people are suffering. They do it out of belief that the left will do something. And Labour don’t inspire belief for the very simple reason that they don’t have any.

  22. stevep

    No, two, and several U-turns. No wishful thinking on ED or the BBC`s part, just right-wing lies.
    I`m not in any state of denial, it didn`t happen. Once again, right wing lies.
    Which you seem only too happy to parrot.

  23. Selohesra

    And i’m glad you think that way – because as long as you do Labour remain unelectable

    Long may your fantasy continue 🙂

  24. stevep

    I`m not the one living in a fantasy world. If you believe the right-wing media`s hysterics about Labour, that`s up to you. I believe in facts. I`ve outlined a few of them to you and you still seem to be in a state of denial.
    Are you sure you are even on the correct website? This one`s called Left Foot Forward. It`s dedicated to discussing evidence based politics, in particular, left-of-centre politics and correcting right-wing media distortions.
    Just wondered.

  25. Selohesra

    There is big difference between outlining facts and simply making them up! – when were the two recessions last govt lead country in to – keep it up you are doing Tories job for them . Shame really as Im UKIP

  26. stevep

    If you want an example of making facts up, just refer to your original post.
    I`ll be charitable and put it down to right-wing media brainwashing. After all, you`ve just admitted you support UKIP!

  27. Rowdie111

    Absolutely …it was the same with most things. Labour banged on as if the whole country was in pain and falling down a black hole. Problem is that is not true and most of the country recognize this. That may have been the situation in the first half of the 20th century….but we are now in the 21st century and Labour continue to be a party of the past with many wanting to go back to the Jeremy Corbyn !

  28. Rowdie111

    Sorry 2010 handed over a £170billion deficit….who was running the country before then ?

  29. Rowdie111

    One quarter of growth …but still running a deficit with borrowing of £170billion!

  30. dnspncr

    The 2% (of people in employment, not “population”) figure is based on the ONS survey, and this is only one estimate (estimates vary especially as such contracts may be under-reported by people confusing them with casual work). I don’t know where you plucked the statistic showing that half of the employees on these contracts see flexibility as a good thing(!!!), the ONS survey estimates it to be a third… granted that’s only about 230,000 people who suffer from a lack of financial stability and security but hey, things like that bug us empathic types.

    Zero-hour contracts are just part of the problem, self-employment is at the highest level since records began despite being in a period of economic instability; Bogus self-employment is on the rise with the building industry, courier firms and employment agencies using payroll companies that force workers onto self-employed contracts – this way they do not have to guarantee work and are not obligated to provide holiday pay, sick pay and pensions (they then charge the worker around £25 for their service).

    It’s bad enough that 5 million people don’t earn enough to cover the basic costs of living without denying them job stability… yeah yeah, I know, they’ve all got big TVs and mobile phones, they can always sell them if they don’t earn any money at the end of the week. If you support New Labour or the Conservatives you really need to take your head out of your fucking arse.

  31. Patrick Nelson

    Very true indeed and really if Labour had won we wouldn’t be hearing many of these attacks on pre-election Labour policies. The Tories only got 6% more of the vote than Labour did, but people talk as if they gained some great victory and a heavenly mandate that meant that everything Labour said before the election must be exorcized forever for Labour to ever win another election, which is of course nonsense. (PS. 8 plus shift gets the star button, a great thing for when you want to express yourself strongly in time honoured fashion whilst also making a gesture of respect people of other sensibilities).

  32. dnspncr

    Ha, cheers Patrick – blame the wine ;-P

  33. Jacko

    According to Wikipedia, the Conservatives got 11.334M votes, Labour got 9.347M votes.

    In other words, the Tories got 21.3% more votes than Labour. That’s the scale of the mountain Labour has to climb.

  34. Patrick Nelson Tories 36.9% Labour 30%

  35. dnspncr

    Politicians exaggerating to make a point, well I never. Iain Duncan Smith tells us that our society is beset by jobless layabouts who opt for welfare benefits as a lifestyle choice, surveys now suggest many believe that a large chunk of the welfare budget goes on benefits to unemployed people (it’s actually 3%). He has deployed statistical evidence to back his claims…

    In the Telegraph he wrote “Tax credit payments rose by some 58% ahead of the 2005 general election, and in the two years prior to the 2010 election, spending increased by about 20%.” LIE: 2003-04, £16.4bn was paid, and the following year (the one that included the general election) £17.7bn. That’s an increase of 8%. In 2008-9 £25.1bn was paid in tax credits, the following year it was £27.3bn. Which means that in the two years prior to the 2010 general election, spending on tax credits increased by 8.8%.

    On QT he ranted “two and a half million people were parked [on the dole], nobody saw them, for over 10 years” – LIE: 18% of working-age households were workless, but in only 2% of households had nobody ever worked. More than half of adults in ‘never-worked’ households were under 25. 2% of the population is not 2.5m people, and under-25s cannot have been unemployed for more than 10 years – the figures actually highlight the high level of young adult unemployment.

    In September 2013 a leaked documents showed Duncan Smith was looking at “how to make it harder for sick and disabled people to claim benefits”, he pursued this goal with vigour. A DWP press releases came out stating that “more than 50% of decisions on entitlement are made on the basis of the claim form alone, without any additional corroborating medical evidence.” – LIE: it was 10%. It was also stated that “under the current system of DLA, 71% of claimants get indefinite awards without systematic reassessments” – LIE: 23% and 24% of claimants were given indefinite awards.

    IDS has been criticised by the UK’s statistics watchdog for misusing figures to promote the effectiveness of his benefits cap on getting people into work. IDS claimed “already we’ve seen 8,000 people who would have been affected by the cap move into jobs. This clearly demonstrates that the cap is having the desired impact”. LIE: Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, said this claim was “unsupported by the official statistics published by the department”.

  36. stevep

    1997 after 18 years of Tory government, Labour inherited a debt of 42% GDP. At the start of the banking crisis in 2008 it was down to 35%.
    Labour addressed historical under investment by spending on hospitals, schools, infrastructure and the public sector (you and me) among others.
    The banking crisis threatened to destroy economies across the globe. Labour adopted the classic Keynesian strategy of borrowing and spending to stimulate the economy. It worked, the economy was growing when Labour left office. Most other countries did the same, including Germany and the USA.
    The Tories pledged to match Labour`s spending to keep the economy on the right track. When in power, they immediately, for party political purposes, decided on austerity instead. The national interest hasn’t been served very well by their decision.
    The right wing media played on all manner of statistics to put the blame on Labour, it stuck because Labour didn`t refute it well enough and trusting that the public didn`t understand economics too well.
    There`s all manner of articles on the web written by people who do understand economics that put Labour`s spending and the deficit into context.

  37. Jacko

    You don’t understand how percentages are worked out. Your final paragraph is completely incorrect.

    The calculation, using your figures, is

    (36.9 – 30.4)
    —————- = 21.3%

    21.3% more people voted for the Conservatives than Labour.

    That isn’t an opinion, it is a mathematical fact.

  38. Keith M

    Let’s not forget that the Tories are an English party and have no mandate in Wales or Scotland and only won with a small majority in the South and West. Truth is the right wing press have carried on a relentless campaign against labour because of its visceral hatred of socialism, even in its mildest form. Thatcher encouraged people to adopt a sod you, I’m OK mentality, sad to see a nation which once prided itself on fair play start to sink.

  39. Patrick Nelson

    funny that because I got exactly the same figures when I used too.

  40. Jacko

    Have you heard the expression ‘garbage in, garbage out’? That website will produce a nonsense answer because you don’t understand the concept of percentages and you’re not putting in the correct figures in the correct boxes.

    For future reference,

    If I have 10 marbles and you have 6, I have 4 more marbles. To express these 4 extra marbles as a percentage of the marbles you have, you divide 4 by 6, which is 66.6%. I have 66% more marbles than you. That is the fundamental calculation of how to express a difference in % terms.

    Now, back to the political figures.

    21.3% more people voted for the Tories than Labour. See the calculation in my previous post. This is because we are comparing

    Tory votes – labour votes
    labour votes

    This isn’t pedantry. It’s an important metric of how the two biggest parties fared when directly compared to ons another. The figure of 6% compares how the two biggest parties fared relative to each other relative to all parties.

    You may not like it, or understand it, but 21.3% more people voted Tory than voted for Labour.

  41. Patrick Nelson

    Funny that because the garbage that I put in was just the figures from the BBC website you sanctimonious git.

  42. Patrick Nelson

    If you don’t like people habitually referring to the percentages of the votes relative to the overall vote I suggest you start by writing to all the polling companies and the BBC to tell them to stop being naughty.

  43. Patrick Nelson

    If you don’t like people habitually referring to the percentages of the votes relative to the overall vote I suggest you start by writing to all the polling companies and the BBC to tell them to stop being naughty.

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