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The election campaign rumbles on, with the strong and stable™ Tories leading the poll. Incredibly, according to YouGov only 15% of people recognise the notorious Tory slogan.

On the other hand, only 2% spontaneously mention Jeremy Corbyn’s Blairite riff off for the many and not for the few. Perhaps this is because, thanks to Mr Corbyn, the few now seem to outnumber the many. Nevertheless, the progressive forces (who are a very few people indeed) still want to join together in a rainbow coalition to beat the evil Tories. We will be sneered at, says Zoe Williams, channelling Paul Nuttall channelling Gandhi.

Ms Williams usefully set out – possibly for the first time – the beliefs that unite and characterise the progressive alliance:

(1) that climate change is real, but human ingenuity can stop it; (2) that pooling resources for world-class education and healthcare for everybody is not a drag or even a duty, but an honour; (3) that if you can’t afford food and shelter on a full-time wage, you’re not the problem; (4) that everybody will spend some part of their lives economically unproductive, and it’s better to support rather than blame each other.

Hmm. You can certainly believe (1) and not be ‘progressive’; there are plenty of conservative environmentalists, especially around Bright Blue. You might also believe that environmentalists’ tactics of setting targets, restricting economic freedom and frantic scaremongering have been deeply counterproductive. It’s not that the right wants to ignore climate change, but rather that what has been done so far has failed, and we need other options that don’t rely on government fiat or radical schemes to change human nature.

(3) and (4) – sure, but again you can be concerned about the working poor and the unemployed and still worry that an arbitrary transfer of resources isn’t going to solve the underlying problems.

(2) is just odd (though revealing) – paying taxes is indeed a duty, and it is clearly a drag. Furthermore, the problem with the progressive forces is that they seem to believe that pooling resources is sufficient for world class services, and if the services are not world class, then we just pool some more. That idea has already been tested to destruction by New Labour. And as for being an honour, I’d prefer an OBE frankly.

The key phrases are ‘pooling resources’ and ‘support rather than blame each other’. These gloss over the uncomfortable fact that what is proposed is that those who are economically productive, and who may have made long-term plans, funded by hard work, will be asked by the progressive alliance to support not only those to whom they have immediate and pressing moral obligations, but also those less fortunate (no doubt also hard-working – very few people are the shiftless types demonised by the Daily Mail). That requires a job of persuasion by the self-styled progressives – not only to ensure legitimacy, but also to prove that the transfer of resources will have some useful long-term effects. But the progressives don’t want to persuade – they would rather protest, or if they did somehow win power, they would forcibly extract the money.

The point is that most people who find themselves voting Tory are concerned about poverty, worklessness, climate change, education and health, but they may not think that the policies tried unsuccessfully over and over by progressives for half a century are a useful way forward. Yet the progressives themselves make no attempt either to craft a message that will appeal to those people, or to engage with their concerns about the economic unrealism. They’d rather hurl insults.

You can join the progressive alliance if you want to vote Labour, Green, Liberal Democrat, SNP, SDLP or the Women’s Equality party, all of which are, apparently, on the same path (presumably Plaid Cymru can be added to the list too). Most of the smaller parties do not aspire to government at all, with the exception of the SNP, and even they like to position themselves in opposition to the Westminster Tories.

Labour is fundamentally a party of opposition. Since Keir Hardie in 1906, it has had 18 leaders not counting interim caretakers. Of these 18, only four have actually won General Elections. Of those four, two have been consigned to the lowest levels of Socialist hell – don’t mention Ramsay MacDonald or Tony Blair in Islington, whatever you do. Of the two remaining, one – Harold Wilson – has been airbrushed out of history. That leaves one single Labour leader who was both successful (two attempts out of five) and admired: Clement Attlee, although even he was under constant attack from his own left wing while actually leading it.

The Lib Dems (and their predecessors the Liberals) had gone on and on for years about the importance of coalition and proportional representation. When they finally got what they had been asking for, Lib Dem voters seemed unable to grasp (a) that joining a coalition requires compromise, and (b) that it’s best to drop the most stupid and expensive policies. So they deserted poor old Clegg in droves, and the student fees u-turn is still regarded, idiotically, as one of the worst betrayals in political history. Tim Farron’s ambition is to be the main opposition party, and has ruled out a coalition in advance.

An opposition party that doesn’t want to win causes trouble. The Chilcot Report excoriated Tony Blair’s sofa-style government, but there was one villain that he didn’t finger. In 2001, Iain Duncan Smith led, with Corbynista deftness, a Tory rabble that wanted to argue with itself about Europe, which made Mr Blair’s staggering complacency possible. Mrs May’s touch has been unsure, and an opposition that was making a constant pitch for her voters would surely keep her on her toes. But it looks like she, like Mr Blair, will have carte blanche to do as she will. That is hardly the outcome that the progressive forces would welcome, even as they let the Tory voters go.

Kieron O’Hara is an associate fellow of Bright Blue and associate professor and principal research fellow at the University of Southampton.The views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily those of Bright Blue.