THE BLOG

Labour Can Govern in 2020 If They Capitalise on Tory Failures

06/10/2015 14:52 BST | Updated 06/10/2016 10:12 BST

Some in the Labour Party have predicted electoral annihilation after Jeremy Corbyn's leadership victory in September. There have been talks of formal splits within the party, which haven't yet come to fruition and most likely, never will. But with all the disgruntled MPs, comes an unexpected chance for Labour to govern again.

Should Jeremy Corbyn become Prime Minister in 2020, it would be little to do with Labour's policies and more a result of Conservative failures to help the majority of working people. While Chancellor George Osborne has claimed the Conservatives are the 'party of labour' at the Tory Conference this week, the Prime Minister has been busy defending cuts to in-work tax credits, which are due to leave working people over £2000 worse off overall by 2020.

This is not a popular Tory party by any means, with over 60,000 anti-austerity protesters demonstrating outside the Tory Conference in Manchester. With Jeremy Corbyn at the helm, the traditional 'rules' of one party staying away when the other is in town is over.

Labour now have the ability to challenge the government and confidently say they are an alternative. The hardest thing to hear on doorsteps in East Leeds and across the country was "you're all the same", and now Labour have an answer to that. With Labour officially opposing austerity measures for the first time since the 1970s, putting a credible alternative to the Welfare Bill forward should not be too strenuous.

Labour need to put the case forward for a reintroduction of housing benefit for 18-21 year olds, a real living wage for all and guarantee to revoke the Trade Union Bill. That is what the party are now about, and people will listen to that.

The challenge of fiscal responsibility does still remain for the Labour Party. This can only be overcome when the in-fighting ends and the Parliamentary Labour Party decide to focus on the common enemy. Talented MPs, such as Chuka Umunna, should not be confined to the back benches, even if they have refused to serve.

The government is open to being opposed during the most gruelling cuts and ideologically driven legislation for a generation. Labour need to take advantage of that. Setting the agenda for a Labour government now will prove very effective by 2020. As much as the Left of the party will disagree, Blair positioned himself as a Prime Minister in waiting. Jeremy Corbyn now has the chance to do the same.

Miliband's manifesto never offered enough. Jeremy Corbyn has the mandate to go further, and to build on the strengths of the manifesto, of which there were many. Simply freezing energy bills will not cut it. But raising the minimum wage to an actual living wage, and developing Labour's obvious strengths on the NHS will.

Similarly, education should be key to Labour's new manifesto. The NUT suggested this week that over half of teachers plan to quit in the next couple of years, alongside 76% who claimed forcing schools to become academies is visibly damaging education.

Setting the agenda on health, education and welfare can open up the possibility of a Labour government in 2020, but only if that agenda is set in the very near future. Labour's official position on Trident may not be enough to win back all the seats the SNP took in May, but it will do Labour no harm in Scotland. Nor will plans to renationalise the rail.

The Conservative's disunity over Europe will be far more pronounced than Labour's when the referendum comes around, after rumours that Corbyn's Labour would seek to leave have been discredited by the Labour leader himself.

While opposing austerity, protecting the right to strike and installing a living wage are all things the public can get behind, Labour's strengths will come in highlighting Tory weaknesses. If the government carries on with damning cuts to public services and making working people worse off, #JezWeDid may have governmental relevance in 2020.