Many Labour MPs put all the blame for their 2019 defeat on Jeremy Corbyn. He was certainly a big factor but this narrative obscures the huge underlying challenges Labour faces. It is in a tougher situation today than the mid 1980s THREAD 1/n
On paper that might sound excessive: it got 32.1% of the vote in 2019 compared with 27.6% in 1983 and in the latter the Liberal/SDP Alliance came close to overtaking it for second place in terms of vote share 2/n
But that potential alignment fizzled out because under our first past the post system the Alliance couldn't convert vote share into seats. In the last few years two seismic realignments of British politics have taken place 3/n
First the SNP takeover in Scotland. There is no sign of Labour winning back all those formerly rock solid Labour seats it lost to the SNP. Without them, it has to do *very* well in England and Wales in order to win an overall majority 4/n
More important is the realignment in England & Wales. This has been building for a long time & is not just about Brexit. In many parts of the world, politics is becoming less about economics and more about culture, allowing the centre right to win more working class support 5/n
The Conservatives have embraced this realignment; it is very hard for Labour to do so. First, Labour is increasingly the party of the young, the university educated, the city dweller but it still thinks of itself as the party of the working class 6/n
Second, it's an electoral trap. The Conservative vote is becoming increasingly aligned with Leave, the Labour vote with Remain. But although the referendum result was close, the Remain vote was heavily concentrated in London, Scotland and NI 7/n
This means that in constituency terms Leave has a big advantage. And the Conservatives have a virtual monopoly on the Leave vote whereas the Remain vote is split between Labour, the LDs, the Greens and Nationalists in Scotland and Wales 8/n
These huge challenges are compounded by the fact that as @rafaelbehr recently argued Labour doesn't understand its opponent. It still thinks it's fighting the same old Tories but the Conservatives are changing in front of their eyes to appeal to their new voter coalition 9/n
Today's Conservative Party believes in relatively high spending and relatively high taxes. That makes it a much harder opponent for Labour, just as New Labour was a much harder opponent for the Conservatives 10/n
There's one other consequence of this change in the Conservatives. They've been in office for 11 years so 'time for a change' should be an increasingly powerful message, but it isn't because we have had 4 very different governments over those 11 years 11/n
If that all sounds daunting for Labourites and others who don't want a Conservative government: in his 2019 triumph Boris Johnson only got just over 300,000 more votes than Theresa May in 2017. So why the huge difference in the outcome (hung Parliament vs big majority)? 12/n
Because in our first past the post system what matters is the margin between the parties. In 2017 Corbyn got most of the anti-Tory vote; by 2019 when voters knew him better he didn't. While the centre left is divided, it has no chance of beating a united cente right THE END

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More from @GavinBarwell

7 Feb
Where to start with this drivel? The current iteration of the Protocol is worse, not mildly better, than the one negotiated by @theresa_may in terms of barriers between Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1/
Behind-the-border checks do not make a frontier intangible. They would be a retrograde step that would be opposed by Nationalists (and indeed moderate Unionists) 2/
The EU's concern about the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland predated the 2017 election - see for example para 11 of the negotiating guidelines the European Council adopted on 29 March 2017 3/
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