This article was published in Backbench on 3 April 2016
Across the nation, poll cards have landed gently onto doormats. The elections taking place in May won’t change anything seismic, but are interesting thanks to a uniquely large pool of floating voters.
Labour under Corbyn has alienated scores of moderates; the Liberal Democrats have lost their local footholds and are adrift under a drab leader; UKIP has dropped off the political map but soldier on pointlessly under Farage’s endlessly loony tyranny; the Greens are somewhere; and the Conservatives are self-combusting on Europe, the minimum wage, benefit cuts, and just about anything else they can get their hands on. Never in recent political history have all the main parties simultaneously been in such total disarray.
The ‘morning after’ prognosis, therefore: my money’s on not very much happening at all. Turnout is always low at local elections – the estimate for 2014 was 36% – but I expect turnout this time to be drastically lower still. Voters with nobody they can fully support just don’t bother.
The key point of all this? If there’s ever been a time to start a new party, this is it. The best bet at this point would be a moderate centre-left-ish coalition of Lib Dem types, Blairites, and Tories who think taking billions from the disabled is a bit off. Paint the post-Brexit Tories as irresponsible, accrue support, win by-elections, and play the long game under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. Not since the mass enfranchisement of the early 20th century has there been a better time to strike out with something new.
The key question: who’s going to come up and get this party started?