Forum: Inaccurate to conflate WP and Britain's Labour Party

My friend and university mate Calvin Cheng is pithy and punchy as ever with his prescriptions for the People's Action Party (After GE2020, a time for soul-searching, July 17). But he draws inaccurate parallels with British politics.

Political parties often rely on somewhat odd alliances.

For years, the Labour Party in Britain appealed to both Hampstead liberals and the northern working class.

And the Conservative Party brought together London traders and the landed gentry of the shires.

Brexit ripped those alliances asunder, enabling the Conservatives to capture large swathes of the working-class vote with a clear pro-Brexit strategy. Labour alienated many of its traditional supporters with an ambivalent stance on Brexit.

The economic devastation of Covid-19 may well present an opportunity for the PAP to capture more of the Singaporean working-class vote.

But it is not the same as in Brexit - in our case, the opposition Workers' Party (WP) is hardly ambivalent about helping the working class. In other words, it may be difficult for the PAP to "out-left" the WP.

Mr Cheng lumps together the "progressive ideologues" of the British Labour Party and the Singaporean opposition parties.

This conflates socialist ideology with a desire for systemic fairness.

In Britain, while there is a wide spectrum of views on how to run the economy, there is little disagreement about whether the political process is fair.

As Singaporeans ascend Maslow's hierarchy of needs, they may be increasingly swayed by the consideration of fairness.

It is not a lost cause for the PAP to cater to these voters.

Steven Pang

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