Labour's 2015: new year, new government ?

A look back at how Labour performed in 2014, and what challenges lie ahead for Ed Miliband’s party in the new year.

The Labour party have had a decent year. The gap between them and the Conservatives has however narrowed, but with just months to go until the general election such events are not unsurprising.

2014 saw suggestions that another leader should take Ed Miliband’s place, perhaps Alan Johnson. But such claims never became anything more than ideas. Ed Miliband remains in his position and could, in May, become the next Labour Prime Minister.

Furthermore, Labour have done well in recent polls, with last week’s YouGov poll suggesting that the party had a five point lead over the Conservatives.

2015 holds multiple challenges for the party. Winning the general election is the first major challenge for Labour, but if they succeed, that could be looked back upon as a walk in the park by Labour high command.

The party’s success counts on them getting more seats than the Conservatives, but it is possible that the Conservatives could get more votes, despite less seats. Seats are what matter in the election, but if such an outcome were to occur, which could happen as Labour has an advantage under the current boundaries, then Labour leadership could be undermined. A second election could quickly follow.

A second problem the party could face is how to deal with the situation if they win a plurality, but not a majority. Some sort of deal with other parties will be needed, but with the Liberal Democrats expected to lose many seats then a multi-party deal looks more likely. Such an arrangement could result in divisiveness in government on a scale much greater than the one seen between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems over the last four and a half years.

The Liberal Democrats are an option for a coalition partner, but having worked with the Conservatives Labour might not be too keen on the whole idea.

The SNP are an other option for Labour to work with but a full on coalition is unlikely. Furthermore, the SNP themselves are a challenge that Labour will have to deal with in 2015. Despite the announcement of Jim Murphy as Scottish Labour’s new leader there has been a failure to stem the increase in support that the SNP has been enjoying in Scotland. Monday’s Survation poll of 1,001 people found that a grand total of 48% of Scots were intending to vote SNP in next year’s general election. Labour on the other hand, would receive 24% of the vote - half the amount the SNP could get.

Scotland will be a tough battle for Labour. And with Labour having such a high number of seats in Scotland, what happens north of the border could determine whether or not Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister.

Labour should be optimistic for the year ahead. They have a chance to become the largest party in Westminster and take Number 10. But they should also be cautious. The party also faces some major challenges next year, challenges that will determine the political state of the UK for at least the next five years.

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