Tuesday, 10 May 2011

So, farewell then, progressive majority

Feel a tad vindicated today. 

You may remember that back in January the Centre Left first blogged about the so-called “progressive majority” which Ed had made the centrepiece of a Guardian article and a speech to the Fabians. We had (somewhat controversially) asserted that it didn’t actually exist, and that we should concentrate our fire on the Tories.

In other words, the idea that, in order to get back into power, we need only forge an alliance with “progressives” everywhere (i.e. disaffected, left-leaning Lib Dems) is entirely wrong-headed. Because that would, er, not make a majority. And you may remember that later Dan Hodges and Anthony Painter also, after the publication of the latter’s Searchlight report on race, migration and identity, said the same?

Well, according to Dan Hodges at Labour Uncut today, it has now been acknowledged by “sources close to the Labour leadership” that capturing this mythical progressive beast was never really a goal for the Party. That it was all a misunderstanding on our part:
“There never was any progressive majority strategy”, a member of Ed Miliband’s inner circle told me yesterday. “People have misunderstood the game plan. We’re not going to be making some desperate appeal to the Lib Dems. We’re going to be saying to them, ‘you’ve been duped, wouldn’t you be better off on board with us’”?
Phew. That’s all right then. But as Dan points out:
The claim that Labour’s leader never envisaged marching up Downing Street with a crowd of exultant liberal progressives is a touch disingenuous. “I want to see Labour become home to a new progressive majority”, Ed said in August. Labour must “earn the right to be the standard-bearer for the progressive majority in this country”, he repeated in January.
And finally, on AV:
“A yes vote would, above all, reflect confidence that there is a genuine progressive majority in this country”, he urged in May.
I should point out that there is a nice irony on that last one: you can see that the argument actually helps defeat itself. There was no Yes-to-AV moment: Yes lost and No won. A yes vote would have reflected confidence in a progressive majority. Ergo, no such confidence has arisen, because the public voted No.

Anyway, this progressive stuff has all been very interesting, but can we all get back to beating the Tories now, please?


  1. It's a fair point. But it's because half the Labour Party isn't progressive on having a fair electoral system.

    I keep changing my mind over whether to join the Lib Dems, the Greens or the Labour Party and this has shown why Labour is bottom of my list.

  2. You are probably right, although it's difficult to say exactly in what proportions Labour is split on the issue.

    However, I'd have to say that a "fair", or even a different, electoral system clearly isn't the priority of the vast majority of the electorate - as the results have shown.

  3. STOP PRESS: Paul Richards writes today on LabourList "A 'Progressive Majority'? Of course there isn't". I think we're all clear now.

  4. Really dissapoitning on the AV result, I felt it would be a fairer representation of the public's views and make for a better democracy. However, we can still unite the progressive majority and come next election we may well have to work with the Lib Dems, on the condition that Mr Clegg departs.

    I'm 16 and a young Labour activist and have just started up a new blog. It would be great if you could have a look and I'd really appreciate it if you could feature it on your blogroll and I would do the same for you. Many thanks:


  5. STOP PRESS: Everyone's at it - now I've seen an article now from David Lammy MP getting in on the "progressive majority" act!

    You heard it here first...


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