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We need a Labour supermajority - but this can only be the start

After fourteen years of catastrophic Conservative misrule, we need a radical change of direction. Ironically, this can only happen if a mega-landslide gives this moderate Labour a cart-blanche to govern much more ambitiously than they campaign - and if the Right is consigned to electoral irrelevance. 

June 29 2024, 14.28pm

Fourteen years of Tory rule leave Britain smaller, weaker, meaner, more suspicious and more afraid; poorer and more divided. It has worn us down; made us mistrustful of each other and doubly mistrustful of outsiders, anxious about the future and in denial about the past. The Conservative era began with a tack to the centre - a pitch to sensibility and compassion. It ends with a government so toxic, so delusional, with a trail of policies so self-destructive and sadistic there’s barely any ground for far-right extremists left to claim.

And now, after 14 years, we finally, finally get a chance to install in government a party that isn’t congenitally devoted to punching down.

This might feel like a low bar to clear - and perhaps like a backhanded compliment to Labour. This wouldn’t be fair: the manifesto does contain a number of ambitious policies, like the ban on North Sea oil and gas, and its plan to build 1.5 million new homes. The unequivocal pledge to end the nightmarish Rwanda policy is mighty welcome. But Keir Starmer’s approach has long been to court the centre-right voter; to bet on the British electorate’s almost unwavering aversion to sudden changes, to anything that remotely smacks of revolution - even if this meant alienating Labour’s most enthusiastic, driven and imaginative base.

It is ironic, therefore, that the momentum instigated by this cautious, small-c conservative approach is poised to set off nothing less than an electoral revolution.  

Because in this election we have a chance to not only swap the vile and inept for the reasonably competent. We have a chance to rewrite the very framework of political debate in Britain - to shift the centre ground of politics completely; to make the Conservatives, already far-right as Nigel Farage, also as marginal.

But this tectonic shift can only be accomplished with a Labour landslide. 
We, too, think that Britain needs deeper changes, more ambitious policies, far more committed spending and a far bolder, more generous approach to health, environment and  immigration than is outlined in the Labour manifesto. But we also know that Labour merely scraping by will merely entrench its wariness, when ambition is what the country needs.

Labour’s majority on Thursday must be overwhelming precisely so that the party can take risks; so vast that it can afford to lose over half of that majority in the next election, and still keep the Right out of government for at least a decade. A slim majority would make Labour govern as cautiously as it campaigned: it’ll be proof of concept instead of a turn in the road. A hung parliament is not a scenario any pollster is taking seriously. And a Conservative victory, however narrow, does not bear thinking about.

All of which is to say: vote on Thursday. Vote smartly and vote tactically, to get your resident Tory out, or to fend off the strongest right-wing candidate in your constituency. Any seat lost by a Tory is a seat won for Britain; and if Labour is free from credible threat from the Right, but needs to keep up with competition on progressive policy, then all the better.

But if you have doubts, if it is a close call, or if it’s a question of voting Labour or not voting at all, go out on Thursday and vote Labour. We all know how much there is to rebuild - and not just to rebuild, but to build forward, onward, into the decades to come. This project needs to begin somewhere. And the more resounding a defeat we inflict on the Conservatives on Thursday, the more of a head start we will get.