THERE is now nearly parity between the number of Conservative and Labour MPs in Yorkshire. However, at the next election, there could easily be a Tory majority.
The fact is the Conservatives won the electoral race easily on December 12, but with lead weights attached to their boots. There are a number of factors which will make life much more difficult for Labour next time round.
By the next election, the new Parliamentary boundaries will have been implemented. This review was originally commissioned back in 2011, but never implemented because the Liberal Democrat coalition partners refused to support it.
The reason we are having these changes is to improve democracy.
In a first past the post system, it is vital to have equally sized constituencies as far as possible.
Currently (according to the independent Boundary Commission), a seat should have no fewer than 71,031 and no more than 78,507 constituents.
At the moment, 17 Labour seats in Yorkshire have well below 70,000 constituents and eight Conservative seats are above 78,000.
Why should 110,000 people of the Isle of Wight only have one Conservative MP, when Leeds North East and North West, with a combined electorate of 133,000 voters, can have two Labour MPs?
A further planned change is to reduce the numbers of MPs, reducing it from 650 to 600. Most estimates indicate that the Conservatives will benefit from these changes.
Another big problem that Labour will face next time is that there will (surely) be no Brexit Party in existence.
The fact that the party stood, as far as my estimations go, denied the Conservatives about a dozen seats in Yorkshire, including Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, and also Barnsley Central, by way of example.
However, the really big problem facing Labour is that it is becoming completely detached from its traditional voting base.
Labour is increasingly seen as a metropolitan elitist party, which only serves the interests of those trendy Champagne socialists whose social media endoresements were ignored by the electorate.
I can see a time in Yorkshire when there will only be a handful of Labour seats, with maybe some central city seats holding out.
The fact is Labour cannot continue as a major party with only middle-class (or upper middle class) support.
Labour will end up, nationally, being as big as the Liberal Democrats who have now been wiped out of Yorkshire. Labour will be fighting the Lib Dems hard in university towns for that middle class vote and they might end up cancelling each other out.
Labour failed to understand Brexit which is not all about economics – it’s also about how much sovereignty we are prepared to cede to achieve economic growth.
Most voters want to see the UK stay within three concentric circles, those of the Commonwealth, the Anglo-American relationship and Europe. They do not want be part of an EU superstate.
Labour didn’t get it. They thought Brexit must be some kind of protest against ‘austerity’ and ‘globalisation’. Labour wouldn’t accept that people actually wanted to leave the EU.
Basically, Labour moved too far towards the left, and nobody wanted that. Most people can understand that we’re spending as much as possible on public services.
Only a strong economy will enable us to continue to do that (and perhaps to spend more). Labour have never left the economy in a better state than they inherited it in. Labour are not viewed as competent on the economy or on defence.
If we discount the Blair years – where ‘New Labour’ shifted to the centre and became effectively a Social Democratic Party that won the 1997, 2001 and 2005 elections – there hasn’t been a full-blooded Labour government since 1945.
Even Harold Wilson’s governments of the 60s and 70s were considered to be moderate and not considered by many to be truly socialist.
Labour boast that it is the biggest party in Europe, with 500,000 members. That may be the case – but the way things are going their membership may end up being the only people who will vote Labour in the future.
Tim Hunter is a Conservative town councillor in Knaresborough, writing in a personal capacity, and author of The Brexit Letters.