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Great chunks of Labour voters are on the Right. Apparently.

Interesting piece here by David Hodges over at LabourList, pointing out that the left need to take the opportunity given by the introduction of the e-petitions in order to bring left-wing ideas and debate into the public forum. Which I think is entirely right.

But if the left are ever to become champions of the people then they really must stop writing off any ideas that do not coincide with the views of its politically engaged core as ‘right-wing’ and thereby somehow opposed to the Labour movement. Hodges does it here, saying

The Right will pursue their campaigns to reinstate capital punishment or rage against green and bin taxes with extreme vigour. We must not let them succeed in dominating this space, masquerading as the public’s voice, defining the narrative.

Well, Mr Hodges, you’re simply going to have to get over the fact that support for capital punishment is not a right-wing issue, but transcends such boundaries and encompasses rather a large chunk of traditional Labour voters too, with working-class folk more likely to support it than middle class. Same is true, I strongly suspect, on opposition to green taxes. To bin taxes. To EU membership. To largescale immigration. To crime and overly-lax punishment. And to much else that too many in the Labour Party would sneer at as right-wing, thereby alienating their own voters and relying on little more than good-will and tribalism to get them out voting again. Good-will and tribalism that, as we have seen, is rapidly diminishing.

I’m not saying there should be capitulation on these issues (I personally am opposed to capital punishment, for example). But deriding those who happen to dissent from contemporary Labourite and New Left orthodoxy as ‘right-wingers’ can only, in the end, be counter-productive. Convince and cajole by all means – alienate? Probably not the greatest idea.

See also:

Culture Clash: How Labour can look to reconnect with the poor

Labour Values – only ‘progressives’ need apply

Labour and the Progressives

Balancing interests – or muzzling the progressives

Purnell: social conservatism and Labour

Like our parents and grandparents before us

Abbott speaks the wrong language

The Left and the left

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