You may read the headline to this post and think I’m crazy. London is the one place in the UK where Labour holds power through its mayor Sadiq Khan; it controls the vote share, and holds most of the parliamentary seats. London is a young, vibrant, diverse, liberal city, a city that matches the values of Labour, and it’s understandable it’s become the party’s main hub.
London was also the only region within England to vote Remain in June’s referendum, whilst everyone else plucked to Leave. One of the key factors of that result, as well as Trump’s win back in November, was that it was ‘normal people’ fighting back against the establishment, against the liberal elites. The vote to Leave was the rest of the country, those who for decades have felt left out and abandoned, telling London that they won’t accept it anymore.
Of course, it’s not quite that simple, as these people were fed lies from the media that immigration was the root of their problems, rather than simple underfunding from Westminster. However, they also felt excluded from the prosperity and power of London, and they feel that they were the main losers from the economic crash. Bankers, politicians (mainly Labour ones), and elites were blamed for that crash, but the rest of the country paid the price through Tory austerity.
Brexit is without a doubt the biggest problem that Labour must deal with over the next few years. As I mentioned two weeks ago, the Tories are sweeping up the Leave voters, and the Liberal Democrats are aiming themselves at the Remainers. Labour must try to find a way to appeal to both sides, just like it has to find a way to appeal to its two main support bases – London, and the working-class North. Labour currently has a leader that is unpopular across the country with the voting public, but especially so in the working-class North and Labour heartlands. He is a career politician who has spent 30 years as an MP, is in the top 1% of earners, went to a private school, and is completely out of touch with the values, needs, and thoughts of Labour’s core voters.
One of the reasons Labour heartlands voted to leave was to reduce immigration levels, and they know that Corbyn wants uncontrolled migration. I’m not trying to say that Labour should back an end to freedom of movement, but it’s important we reach out to those people, listen to their views, and try to show them that immigration is not the reason for their troubles. Sneering at them from London and saying that freedom of movement shouldn’t end is not the answer.
Labour is only increasing the divide between themselves and the Northern working class vote. Labour is becoming more and more London central, and all four main party job roles are held by MPs from London constituencies. The party is increasingly being an elite political bubble, who cannot see or step outside of London and towards their traditional core voters.
I myself am a member of many various societies and groups within the Labour Party, including The Fabians, Progress, and Open Labour. All great societies who are helping to shape the party, including looking towards the Labour heartlands, and traditional Labour voters. They hold many great events to initiate debate and spark interest (especially among young people), but every single event I have received an invite to is taking place in London.
For the voters and members outside of London (especially young people), getting into London on a Saturday morning or weekday evening is extremely difficult, or even impossible. Often people are priced out, and simply don’t have the time to make the journey. The Labour Party is not and cannot be a truly inclusive and diverse party until it breaks out of this bubble and looks outside of London and towards its core voters. If Labour continues to appeal to just the capital and forget its roots, we will continue to be seen by the rest of the country as an establishment party of elites in a Westminster bubble, and you can be sure that we will never get back into power.