When the English Labour Network was launched in 2017 we argued that the next election would be determined in England that is outside the major cities. The battlegrounds would be smaller cities, towns and rural areas. As the Fabian Society report For The Many? makes clear, holding Labour’s fragile 2017 coalition together will be tough, not least in the crucial working-class communities where Labour did less well in 2017 than it did in 2005
After the 2018 conference, it’s worth taking stock of Labour’s progress. According to the polls, ‘on the ground’ things have got worse, rather than better. The Tories have a consistent edge amongst working class voters while, in a huge political inversion, Labour leads amongst the professional classes. On the other hand, there have been welcome Labour moves in the right direction.
A year ago, many on the left were salivating at the (admittedly entertaining and enjoyable) prospect of defeating Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan-Smith. Both are worth getting rid of, of course, but London-edge seats with favourable demographic changes are far from typical of Labour’s main challenge. The electoral maths has become clearer. Aided by the impact of the new Centre for Towns, in which Labour MP Lisa Nandy has played a crucial public role, the critical position of towns is at the centre of political debate in both major parties and much of the media.
Join us in Yorkshire this Saturday (20 Oct) to discuss these issues, or in Staffordshire (3 Nov) or Hull (17 Nov). Sign up here.