With the Brexit referendum in 2016, the North voted overwhelmingly to leave the European Union. Labour has been weakened since, with poor perceived leadership from Jeremy Corbyn and Labour hosting a war on 2 fronts. One being from working class supporters who have supported Labour throughout their lives, and the people who voted remain and Labour for being the party of remain. Labour is suffering and this is reflected in the polls, however they don’t have the 3 years to prepare for a general election that the Fixed Parliament Act afforded them.
So the 2017 General election may be hard for Labour, they lost their hold in Scotland in 2015. In 2017 there is a bleak outlook and they are left with few other options. If they wait until 2022 when the boundary changes will be in force, the number of constituencies will be reduced from 650 to 600, severely reducing Labour’s representation in Parliament. It could be a long wait for the next Labour government.
So what is Labour’s future and how can they recover? A change of leadership may help Labour, however Corbyn already has 2 successful leadership elections under his belt. With his second election gaining more support than his first, those wanting to unseat the Labour leader may find it harder then they think. Compared to the 229 seats Labour currently have, polling suggests this could be reduced to below 200, which doesn’t bode well for Labour’s future. Brexit negotiations will be a key part of the 2017 election, something that will hurt Labour in the North in constituents that voted heavily leave. These are places where Theresa May believes she can be competitive.
The potential demise of UKIP, no longer splitting the right-wing vote, gives the Conservatives a real chance of winning northern seats. In many constituencies across the North, whereby UKIP had a strong footing, such as Newcastle under Lyme, Labour only had a majority of 650 votes in the last general election. Labour only has a hope of retaining seats such as these if they change their message into something that it is universally popular such as NHS and education.
The only hope for Labour in this general election is if Corbyn is successful in turning the debate from Brexit and into a debate about the NHS, education and the economy, a message that is universal to those who voted remain and voted to leave. By uniting leave and remain voters behind a single common message, Labour may have a chance in this general election.