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Lessons From Biden: The UK Left Must Unite

The 2020 US election will go down in history not least because the first Black female VP was elected but also because Biden received the highest number of votes in US history. However, the election of Biden and Harris was not an endorsement of their platform or policies, it was a rejection of the divisive politics of Trumpism. Yet, Biden’s campaign shines as a beacon of hope to progressives around the world, that populism can be defeated when there is unity on the left.

In 2019, Boris Johnson’s landslide victory was the result of a divided left and a united right. Johnson’s ability to unite the right under the slogan ‘get Brexit done’, combined with the endorsement of Nigel Farage sealed the Labour Party’s fate, condemning them to 5 more years of opposition. Indeed, if the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats had worked together the Tory Party’s path to power would have been blocked. Instead, the Liberal Democrats adopted an untenable strategy, of revoking article 50 without a referendum. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn was unable to say whether he would campaign for leave or remain if a second referendum was held. All the while both the Liberal Democrats and Labour were at each other throats when they should have been fighting the Conservative Party.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in Islington, north London, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. (Isabel Infantes/PA via AP)

In British politics, the saying ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ has never been truer. The nature of the First-past-the-post electoral system, means coalitions have to be forged before elections. As we head into the 11th year of a Tory government, this reality cannot be denied by the left for much longer. If progressives are serious about winning power in 2024, an electoral pack between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party is needed. Under such a pack, Labour candidates would stand down in constituencies that the Liberal Democrats have a chance of winning, and the Liberal Democrats would do the same. If this had been done in the last general election the Tory Party would have been denied a majority, leaving them unable to pursue a hard Brexit.

Understanding that an electoral pack could damage the reputation of the Liberal democrats, as it previously did when they went into coalition with the conservative party, the Labour Party could compromise on a number of issues to make the pack more attractive. Electoral reform could be this compromise. The Liberal Democrats have long sought to reform the broken FPTP system, knowing full well how much they stand to gain from the adoption of AV or STV. Reform of Britain’s political process is long overdue and would gander great public support. Thus, electoral reform as the price attached to an electoral pack between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party is a bargain by all measures.

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Tobi Dada

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