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2017: Labour victory?

#1
Following the 2017 UK general election, Theresa May led the Conservatives to another term in government but lost her majority, having to rely on the DUP.

Jeremy Corbyn defied expectations of a wipeout, taking Labour achingly close to power.

But what if the Tories had fallen short of their ability to govern? Had Labour won enough seats with other parties, what could happen next?
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#3
Had Labour won enough seats with other parties, what could happen next?
This all depends on which other parties. You've realistically got the SNP, Lib Dems, and Plaid Cymru, in that order, who'd have enough MPs to help. All of them would have their own demands and the more seats Labour needs, the demands it has to bow to. A demand for a second referendum on the EU seems definite though.
 

Nomad

Well-known member
#4
This all depends on which other parties. You've realistically got the SNP, Lib Dems, and Plaid Cymru, in that order, who'd have enough MPs to help. All of them would have their own demands and the more seats Labour needs, the demands it has to bow to. A demand for a second referendum on the EU seems definite though.
Yes, but the fact that there would still be a decent number of Labour MPs who would refuse to vote for a second referendum (this number could be even higher than OTL if the alternative is a Labour negotiated soft Brexit) could severely constrain Corbyn's ability to deliver it. Between that and other things like anti-semitism and Corbyn's response to Salisbury (which the Lib Dems could well withdraw their support for Labour over), I am fairly confident that we would get another election by 2019 which would most likely see Labour turfed out of office, unless Corbyn was able to win a comfortable majority in 2017.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#5
Though if Labour does not do a second referendum and is heading towards Brexit even reluctantly, that could help it retain some seats it lost OTL because the Tories can't play the Brexit card (more importantly, "look at how THEM in power want to override YOUR vote") while it might lose some it retained. So we end up with quite a different political landscape.

Though, thought occurs: one thing that seems needed to give Labour more seats would be the Lib Dems doing better at nabbing Tory seats, which means them doing better in general. Which means either Fallon needs to better handle the questions on how he feels about gay sex, or that manages to not come up, or he's not leader. IIRC, he was big on the Lib Dems being the no-Brexit party, so if it's option 3 does this mean Leave/Remain is still as big a factor or is it more Soft/Hard? The latter's probably better for Labour's chances. (But then, where do the hard remainers go??)

re Salisbury, this depends on if Corbyn has the same stance when he's actually in the hot seat and has to respond to it and has other Cabinet ministers going "Jeremy it was definitely a Russian op". I think he might change his stance then.
 

Nomad

Well-known member
#6
Though if Labour does not do a second referendum and is heading towards Brexit even reluctantly, that could help it retain some seats it lost OTL because the Tories can't play the Brexit card (more importantly, "look at how THEM in power want to override YOUR vote") while it might lose some it retained. So we end up with quite a different political landscape.
This would be true if Labour were able to get in to government, then pass a withdrawal agreement without committing to a second referendum. But in practice, it would be very difficult to do that, seeing as most viable coalition partners would likely insist on it as a condition of supporting a Labour government, and even if that wasn't an issue, there would still be an extremely large minority of the PLP who would not support a withdrawal agreement without it. And that's before we get on to the defection of remain voters to the Lib Dems that we saw IOTL.

Because of those factors, Corbyn would probably end up backing a second referendum, and the damage that does to Labour in leave areas would if anything be worse than IOTL, as he would forced to push it more actively in parliament. If he succeeds in legislating, then he is the man who made a second referendum happen, if he fails, then he is perceived as a weak PM pushing an insufficiently hard Brexit without even being able to command the support own party-like May was in her last months. Such a scenario might enable Labour to do slightly better among Remainers than IOTL, but there would not be any real improvement in their position among leavers.
Though, thought occurs: one thing that seems needed to give Labour more seats would be the Lib Dems doing better at nabbing Tory seats, which means them doing better in general. Which means either Fallon needs to better handle the questions on how he feels about gay sex, or that manages to not come up, or he's not leader. IIRC, he was big on the Lib Dems being the no-Brexit party, so if it's option 3 does this mean Leave/Remain is still as big a factor or is it more Soft/Hard? The latter's probably better for Labour's chances. (But then, where do the hard remainers go??)
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The Lib Dems could probably gain several seats simply by reducing the Tory vote share. Even if those votes go to Labour or someone else rather than them, it would still lower the bar needed to elect a LD. I seem to recall that there were at least three seats where they came within a couple of hundred of votes of winning.

I think it's possible to overstate the part that Farron played in getting a second referendum on the agenda. Most Lib Dems were in favour of it, and there was also significant support for the idea among Labour MPs (even in 2017), the commentariat, and sections of the public that would enable it to develop into a major movement in the same way it did IOTL-so it would eventually become an important issue regardless.

Lamb (who was a second referendum sceptic) beating Farron in 2015 would have interesting implications for the Lib Dems-but I don't think it would result in a significant upturn in their fortunes compared to OTL. Remain feeling among Lib Dem activists would likely create a situation similar to the one in Labour where the grassroots drag the leadership toward a second referendum (albeit at a faster pace) creating significant divisions which weaken the party's standing among voters. I'm not sure whether Lamb would have enough support to lead the LDs into 2017 without committing to a referendum, but even if he did somehow manage too, they would still suffer in leave voting areas simply by the fact that they would still be seen as a Remain party. After all, Labour weren't committed to a referendum in 2017, but they still went backward in many leave areas. And at the same time, not committing strongly enough to Remain would likely make it significantly harder for the Lib Dems in many of the seats they did best in IOTL-especially in SW London and Scotland.

Still, I'm not really convinced that a better Lib Dem performance is absolutely necessary for a Labour government. Labour's momentum at the time was such that they probably would have been the largest party had the campaign lasted a week longer, especially as that would mean that the country would be going to the polls the day after Grenfell. A Scotland related PoD that prevents the Tories from making gains up there on its own would be enough to make a Labour government viable as well.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#7
A Scotland related PoD that prevents the Tories from making gains up there on its own would be enough to make a Labour government viable as well.
A cladding related fire in Scotland would hit them up there and down south - hell, even if it's not cladding and is entirely a regular fire might terrify enough voters.
 

Iupius

Professional Worrier
#8
I remember a topic of discussion at the time, if a very morbid and uncomfortable one. When May called the election in April, there was a certain degree of stink from some quarters about the 8 June general election campaign overlapping with the devolved elections in May, and calls for the election to be pushed back. Let’s say that argument is a little more convincing, and the election is pushed back a week. Thursday 15 June - the day after Grenfell burns.

I remember talk in the pub about how it May and the government responded so poorly IRL, while trying to regain face after the election humiliation, they wouldn’t reasonably have responded better during a campaign. It would have played directly into the Labour campaign about public services, for instance how the two terror attacks during the campaign raised issues of police cuts.

Give a point or so to Labour, and you force a hung parliament with no majority for a Conservative government. Prime Minster Jeremy Corbyn takes office after a weekend of negotiations, and we’re off to the races. As I said, an uncomfortable idea but one I recall having had some traction at the time.
 

Nomad

Well-known member
#9
Having thought about this scenario a little more, I can see one scenario I can see where things might work out somewhat favourably for Labour. Say that Corbyn is able to survive anti-semitism and Russia and various other scandals, and then pass his deal with the condition of putting it to a confirmatory public vote for around the same time as the 2019 GE took place by making it a de facto confidence issue like Boris did. Remain would be highly likely to win a new referendum against any soft Brexit deal, as many leavers would not regard the latter as a true Brexit and so refuse to vote for either. ChUK or one of the other smaller parties providing confidence to Labour says they will vote for no confidence in the government now the Brexit issue has been resolved, but a new GE is postponed due to COVID-19.

On the face of it, having his WA rejected by the public should be bad for Corbyn, but it would probably have the potential to do more damage to his opponents in the long run. The Lib Dems lose their raison d'etre, whilst whoever leads the Tories (preferably some less electorally successful than Boris) is going to be faced with a rather uncomfortable choice of whether to alienate hardcore leavers by accepting the outcome and moving on, which would probably see a surge for UKIP/BP, or to alienate the people who 'just want it over' by saying 'best of three' and holding a remain vs hard Brexit referendum. You could end up of a reverse of the Labour position where they are forced to make a decision where both options could well lose them the next election.

If you can combine that predicament with a sustained 'rally around the flag' effect that we seem to be seeing around world leaders at this point after the crisis eventually abates, plus Salmondgate north of the border, then Labour would stand a good chance of re-election. But that is only one of many possibilities, and most of the others are negative.