Labour has almost no chance of winning a majority at the next general election and so must try to gain enough seats to form a centre-left coalition with other parties, according to analysis by a think tank.
The Fabian Society, associated with the New Labour movement led by Tony Blair, said it is unthinkable that the party will win enough votes to govern alone.
Prominent Liberal Democrat, John Leech, who currently stands as the sole opposition to Labour on Manchester Council, has said that until the party takes a ‘clear and unequivocally pro-EU stance’, he would not be able to support an alliance with Labour.
The think tank analysis of polling and election data suggests that Labour is likely to win between 140 and 200 constituencies on as little as 20% of the vote, which would be a further blow to the party which currently holds 231 seats.
The party must position itself in the centre-ground, as it is losing as many votes to the pro-EU Liberal Democrats as it is to UKIP and the Conservatives, meaning it must find a way to appeal to both Remain and Leave voters in a political landscape now defined by Brexit.
Commenting on The Fabian Society’s findings, former Liberal Democrat MP John Leech, said: “As one of only two MPs not to have voted for the coalition in 2010, I do feel that the Liberal Democrats are more in tune with Labour’s values, and certainly in the current turbulent political climate, it is critical that progressives stand together to protect what is important. However, Labour have spent too long sitting on the fence about what is vitally important at the moment, and that is our place in Europe”
John Leech snatched Labour’s safe seat of Manchester Withington in 2005 with the biggest swing in the country, holding it for ten years against fierce competition from Labour party giant Lucy Powell. In 2015, Mr Leech suffered at the hands of the coalition when he finally lost his seat to Labour, despite sticking to his pledge to vote against tuition fees and standing as one of only two MPs not to vote to enter government with the Conservatives – the other being former party leader Charles Kennedy.
John Leech, who now stands as the sole opposition on the otherwise all-Labour Manchester council, added: “Labour’s vague and ambiguous position during the referendum was detrimental and until they take a clear and unequivocally pro-EU stance, an alliance is off the cards.”
The think-tank has recommended that Labour should consider forming an alliance with the Liberal Democrats, SNP or other centre-left parties as the UK’s political system continues to crack.
In December, the Liberal Democrats sent shockwaves through Westminster when they stunned pundits and naysayers by overturning a Conservative majority of nearly 24,000 to unseat Zac Goldsmith in the biggest election upset of recent years. It was a stunning result for a party that was nearly wiped out at the 2015 general election.
Fabian Society general secretary Andrew Harrop said: “As things stand Labour is on track to win fewer than 200 seats, whether the next election comes this year or in 2020.
“Even if Labour recovers it has almost no chance of securing a majority in a general election, because it needs over three million more votes than the Conservatives to win.
“Labour’s aim for now should be to move forwards not back and win enough MPs to be able to form a governing partnership with other parties.”