LETTER: Why Blair must not ignore core voters

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Sir: Johann Hari (Opinion, 9 February) tries to argue against Labour running a right-wing election campaign, but repeats the same inaccurate analysis of electoral behaviour which leads Labour strategists to do just that. It is simply not true that election results depend on "the 2 percent of voters who are in the absolute centre".

True, the first-past-the-post systems means that election results are determined in marginal seats - but the marginals are a microcosm of society. They usually consist of a number of different communities with quite distinct social characteristics. For Labour to win in a marginal, it is just as important to persuade people on a council estate to vote as anyone else. In fact, in these days of low turnouts, marginals are more likely to be won by a high turnout among people already inclined to support a party than by winning over a few undecided voters.

Labour's neglect of its natural supporters is leading to a collapse of its vote in areas where it should be strong, to the benefit of the Liberal Democrats and others, and an inability to inspire its natural supporters to turn out and vote everywhere, including the marginals.

Failure of core voters to turn out and vote was the main reason why the Conservatives lost power in 1997. Labour gained a few extra votes in that election, but Conservative losses were massive. Faced with a more competent opposition, Labour would now be in deep trouble, and would lose power through the same process.


London SE24