I had been full of trepidation for days; the truth was that I knew Labour was going to fail. By how much was the shock of course. I had expected a Tory majority between 20 and 30. The scale of the defeat was far worse than I had imagined, but now it all seems so obvious really. It was just that we (those who desperately wanted Labour to win) didn’t want to hear the obvious.
So why Labour Lost?
- Brexit – of course. Firstly Labour’s position weas untenable. It was an attempt to square a circle that simply refused to be boxed in. I was, and still am a remainer. But what we all should have realised was that that battle was lost. We should have been concentrating on getting the best trade deal possible – not trying to stop Brexit. Labour were simply seen as muddled too; Jeremy’s nuanced position was impossible to defend when people simply wanted black or white.
- The Brexit party – as soon as their cooked up decision to only stand in labour seats (imagine Cummings, Johnson and Farage dreaming this wheeze up) was announced we should have realised that the writing was on the wall. And it had it’s effect. On average Labour lost about 6 points to the Tories but in leave areas it was far more, and in many results the extra drop in labour votes was almost all down to the votes for the Brexit candidate. Many lifetime Labour supporters could not bring themselves to vote Tory but voted Brexit instead. In fact the Tory vote barely increased; it was Labour voters staying at home or voting Brexit that lost so many seats.
- Corbyn – the damage was done over the two years since the election of 2017. The slow drip-feed of hatred form the right-wing press worked. But Corbyn himself didn’t help; he had far too much baggage. We must not forget however that the decision (by Ed Milliband) to let the membership decide the leader was always going to elect a more left-wing than electable candidate – just as in the Tory party it was always going to be someone more to the Right. That said, we must thank Jeremy for energising so many new members.
- The Manifesto – was simply too huge, too unbelievable – a wish list that appeared even to Labour supporters like myself to be both unachievable and unaffordable. And it seemed almost daily they were adding more and more goodies, handing out sweets to the children who in the end simply rejected them. It would have been far better to have simply concentrated on the NHS and low wages.
- The Anti-Semitism Row – was never put to bed. There had been some awful tweets in the past which had not been adequately dealt with. Though there is no doubt too that much of this was orchestrated by those on the Right of the Labour Party. An apology might have helped but this row had been rumbling for months and Labour should have dealt with it. That is not to say that anti-Muslim words were just as prevalent in the Tory party – but simply saying “you are as bad” is no response.
- Weariness of the Electorate. 3 General Elections and a Referendum (2 for the Scots) and an unnecessary Euro election in 5 or 6 years meant people had simply had too much Politics to contend with. The simple message of “Get Brexit Done” was simple to understand and people believed that then Brexit would go away when the truth is…
- But people never really want the truth, especially if it is complicated or nuanced. Saying all of that I leave you with the thought that it could have been far worse, and it still might be – unless Labour really learn that the public want something far easier to understand. The tragedy was that many former Labour voters knew that voting Tory was no answer, it was just that voting labour wasn’t either. We are, like it or not, in a Presidential system, and in this election many people voted for the person they disliked or distrusted least.
- The other parties didn’t help either. It seemed that Jo Swinson hated Labour more than Brexit, and the SNP only want Independence and Labour have an almighty task to win back votes there.
But I do believe that labour will come back from this disaster – it may take 2 or even 3 elections, but Brexit will either be over or a disaster and not an issue then, and hopefully a less radical and more likeable Leader may emerge, though the Tory press will try to destroy anyone, that person will have to be strong and resolute and slowly pick the party up and one day the Tories will be shown up for the nasty party they are.