As Blair warns Labour has rediscovered losing, are its 2020 election chances slipping away?

Tony Blair said Labour has “rediscovered losing” (Source: Getty)

Patrick Diamond, lecturer in public policy at Queen Mary, University of London, says Yes

Labour is at grave risk of throwing the 2020 election away. To win in five years, it has to understand why it suffered a devastating defeat on 7 May. The reasons are obvious: the public did not believe that Ed Miliband was a credible Prime Minister; they feared that a Labour government would plunge the economy into chaos; and they perceived the party to be out of touch with voters’ instincts on immigration and welfare.

Underlying this is a sense that Labour is not a party which understands the modern world, wedded to an outdated “cloth cap” image of heavy industry and a monolithic public sector. As of today, there are few signs that the party understands why it lost and, in particular, why swing voters in marginal seats were not prepared to vote Labour. A party that does not understand why it was so comprehensively defeated scarcely deserves to be taken seriously by the electorate.

Paul Hunter, head of research at the Smith Institute, says No

Few could honestly say Labour’s electoral chances look great in a week characterised by internecine warfare. But if a week is a long time in politics, 2020 is light years away. Labour has time to regroup and present itself as a credible alternative.

What’s more, over the coming five years the Conservatives face a long list of challenges, not least delivering on the jobs and growth they promised across the country. David Cameron, the Tories’ strongest electoral asset, has stated that he will step down before 2020. The ensuing leadership race could be divisive as could the campaign in the run-up to the European referendum.

An interest rate hike could gobble up wage rises for many homeowners and there will also be unknown events – how many people foresaw the financial crash? Oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them and there are plenty of potential banana skins on the road to 2020. I wouldn’t write Labour off quite yet.

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