The Conservatives are going to win the election — that much we know. The question is what kind of opposition Britain is going to be left with. If a slew of moderate Labour MPs are swept out, the Corbynite grip on the party will strengthen. The leader will not go and Labour will take a great leap forward in its journey to oblivion.
Tories should not relish this outcome. It would do serious violence to our parliamentary democracy, which was not designed to cope with one dominant party and no real opposition. Legislation would not face proper scrutiny, ministers would become less accountable, and the business of government would be less transparent. Tory MPs, eager to be ‘team players’, would begin to soften their questions and pull their punches. You need only look to Scotland for an object lesson in what happens when a government goes unchallenged for too long.
A Prime Minister insulated from backbench revolts by a stonking majority needs a robust opposition to keep her honest. If Labour is reduced to a ragbag of Corbyn groupies, we won’t get a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit but a May Brexit — devised, debated, and agreed exclusively in Number 10 and presented to the public as a fait accompli.
The best kind of Tories cherish parliamentary democracy, healthy political debate, and a reasonable, patriotic opposition. Corbyn Labour is anathema to all three, which is why Conservatives in seats where a moderate Labour MP is the incumbent should hold their nose and back them. We might call this ‘altruistic tactical voting’, casting your ballot in the interests of country rather than party or self. That is a concept that ought to strike a chord with conscientious Conservatives.
To that end, I have compiled a list of ten Labour MPs that Conservatives should have no problem voting for on June 8. None of them are Tories (despite the yapping of the Canary kids) and none would give Mrs May an easy ride. They are selected because they are sensible, talented, capable of rebuilding a post-Corbyn Labour party, and would safeguard our parliamentary tradition. The list is not exhaustive; excellent MPs like Yvette Cooper and Anna Turley are not included by virtue of their formidable majorities.
1. Liz Kendall (Leicester West)
Kendall stood for the leadership in 2015 on a radical platform of listening to the voters and trying to win elections. This didn’t go down well with members and she came last but everything that has happened since has vindicated her arguments. Few in Labour understand how Middle Britain thinks better than her. If Tory voters want a Labour party that respects them and understands their aspirations, they should send Liz Kendall back to Westminster.
Labour’s choice in a Vine:
— (((StephenDaisley))) (@JournoStephen) June 17, 2015
2. Ian Murray (Edinburgh South)
Edinburgh South is an unlikely barricade in the revolution but following Scottish Labour’s 2015 wipeout its leafy suburbs are the last redoubt of socialism north of the border. Incumbent Ian Murray is popular locally but has a majority of just 2,600 and is the SNP’s top target. He is a firm supporter of the Union and his defeat would bolster Nicola Sturgeon’s campaign to win round Labour voters to independence. The Tories came a distant third here last time and a vote for them could split the Unionist majority and hand the seat to the Nationalists. For Conservative voters who value the United Kingdom, Ian Murray is the only choice on June 8.
3. Wes Streeting (Ilford North)
A Corbynista hate-figure with a majority under 600, Streeting is fighting for his political life. Tories may want the seat but ousting him would deprive Labour of a loud and much-needed voice against anti-Semitism.
4. John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness)
With a majority of just 795, Woodcock ought to be a goner but he shouldn’t be counted out yet. Hailing from the hard-headed wing of the Labour party, he has opposed Corbyn from the start and pledges he won’t support him in becoming Prime Minister. Despised by the hard Left, he is a supporter of Trident and famously told Theresa May during last year’s renewal debate: ‘Whatever she is about to hear from our frontbenchers, it remains steadfastly Labour party policy to renew the deterrent’. A Labour party with any future will need MPs like Woodcock to guide it back to relevance. As tantalising a pick-up as this seat is for Tories, Britain needs a functioning opposition and it’s in the country’s interests that they back Woodcock.
5. Peter Kyle (Hove)
Kyle is a mainstream Labour MP with ‘future leader’ written all over him but only if Labour actually has a future. His closest rival is Kristy Adams, a roboTory who would obey every frontbench command and even refuses to reveal her EU referendum stance. If it chucks Kyle out, Hove will have deprived Labour of a star and landed itself with a flake.
6. Jess Phillips (Birmingham Yardley)
The Women’s Aid worker turned MP isn’t so much a breath of fresh air as a category-five hurricane. Denounced as a plotter by Corbynistas, she told their messiah to his face: ‘I won’t knife you in the back, I’ll knife you in the front’. When Diane Abbott rebuked her for criticising Corbyn, Phillips fulfilled the dream of a nation by telling her to ‘fuck off’. Plus, she is easily the most likeable, down-to-earth MP on the Labour benches. But the Lib Dems’ John Hemming, whom she won Yardley from in 2015, is standing again in June. The Conservatives only polled 6,000 votes here last time and Tories who value an independent mind, and a background in the real world, shouldn’t waste their vote.
7. Ruth Smeeth (Stoke-on-Trent North)
Like so many Labour women, Smeeth is a target for abuse and threats from Corbyn supporters. She is also singled out because of her Jewish heritage and has been assigned police protection. Smeeth walked out of the shambolic Chakrabarti Report launch after being accused of colluding with the media in a ‘witch hunt’ over anti-Semitism. She has delivered the most damning assessment of all on Corbyn: ‘A Labour party under his stewardship cannot be a safe space for British Jews’. Conservatives who want to see this prejudice run out of mainstream politics should think very carefully before voting against someone who could be instrumental in achieving that goal.
8. Alison McGovern (Wirral South)
Chair of Blairite ginger group Progress, McGovern will be key to any project to revive Labour centrism. Her majority is under 5,000 and her seat is a target for the Tories but her removal would only prolong Labour’s desert years. Wirral South voted Remain but even Tory Leavers should want proper parliamentary scrutiny of the negotiation process. Keeping hold of pragmatic Labour MPs like Alison McGovern would be a smart move.
9. John Mann (Bassetlaw)
How can anyone, Labour or Tory, not vote for a man who did this:
10. Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West)
This daughter of a Tamil immigrant has been treated horrendously by Corbyn, who sacked her from the frontbench while she was being treated for breast cancer. But that’s not why Tories should back her in Bristol West. The former domestic violence charity worker has been targeted for defeat by the Greens. Conservatives ought to swing behind a sensible Labour MP to prevent a glorified doomsday cult taking a second seat in Parliament.
Stephen Daisley is a columnist for the Scottish Daily Mail.