A few quick thoughts on the election
So given how wrong I have been about pretty much everything political recently I thought it would be a good idea to jot down some ill conceived thoughts and commit them to the public sphere so people can laugh at me for the next 5 years at how badly I got things wrong.
- What a tremendous personal vindication this is for Jeremy Corbyn. He fought an amazing campaign that confounded expectations; and even most of his harshest critics had to admit that he had done very well on the campaign trail.
Furthermore whilst we don’t yet the specifics of the voting patterns what is very clear is that vast quantities of new voters were won over; principally due to the appeal of Jeremy Corbyn.
- This result will mean that Corbyn inevitably get’s treated differently by the media. This can only be good for him personally and for Labour generally. The narrative (which I’ll admit I bought into) of Corbyn as a good hearted loser who could be ignored and ridiculed is dead.
On top of this the Tories and the right wing press threw the sink at Corbyn. They didn’t keep any powder dry and those IRA/Hamas etc attacks just won’t have the same resonance when used again in the future.
- I guess some might point out that we still lost but I don’t think that is fair. Labour were in a terrible position after 2015, an awful result in terms of both seats and vote share. It would have I rather suspect been unrealistic for any leader coming in in those circumstances to have expected that they could turn that around in a whole election cycle let alone in two years.
Based on both seats and vote shares Labour are now in touching distance of Government (just a 2-3% swing from Tory > Labour would now probably deliver a Labour majority). This is a great result and a great platform for the Labour party.
- Corbyn’s critics are wrong. I’m sure that the ideological hard right of the party; the Madelsons et al, won’t be able to see this. But for everyone on the “soft left” who had concerns about chances of success and electability rather that ideological concerns the book is now largely closed.
In practical terms though that means Corbyn’s critics in the PLP have to accept that he is here for the long haul and that we are one big push away from power.
- On that party unity is going to be really important. I’ll talk in a minute about what is going to be happening for the Tories but we now have to present ourselves as a government in waiting, and a united party.
The Labour “big hitters” need to come back into the tent. Firstly because the talent is needed, and secondly because a public display of party unity (when I suspect the other side will be doing the opposite) will help push the narrative the Labour are a Government in waiting. I’d love to see Corbyn publically winning over some of his PLP critics.
- So it has now been shown that left populism can be a vote winner. That it isn’t poison at the ballot box. But it has also been shown that it isn’t enough on it’s own. To win in the next election we need to hold this coalition together and get another 1-2% of Tories to switch and we have a majority.
- Whilst it is a good night for us it is a disaster for Theresa May. Calling an unnecessary general election, at a time of national crisis, based on her “Personal Brand” and then it panning out as it did. I think circumstances will dictate she has to carry on as PM for a bit but she is really fatally wounded now.
- And tactically for the Tories this is really a problem. Managing their own internal divisions over Brexit was always going to be difficult but doing so in coalition (formal or informal) with the DUP is incredibly difficult for them.
- Part of the reason they called this election (aside from being confident they could bury the Labour party for a generation) was that they knew being honest doing Brexit was going to be thought and was likely to have very unpopular consequences for the governing party.
They both have reduced room for manoeuvre in parliamentary terms now, and they also are going to struggle to get through 5 years of government with this kind of coalition. They defied the political gravity to increase their vote share in 2015… seems hard to see how they can keep doing that when the Brexit Chickens come home to roost.
- On that how terrible, arrogant, selfish and bad for the country does May’s decision to invoke Article 50; then call a General Election and waste three months look? Whatever you think about Brexit it is clear that the Tory Party acted quite fundamentally against the National Interest in their selfish party interest.
When the dust settles; I really hope the British public, both Leave and Remain rightly blame May and the Tories for making a successful Brexit more difficult for partisan party reasons.
Putting party before country is actually unpatriotic and treasonous; maybe the Daily Heil et al should turn their fire on May rather than us Remoaners!
- On the DUP, I wonder if Sinn Fein might consider changing their position and taking up their seats in parliament? I realise this will be tough for them but with Stormant suspended, and the DUP likely to be propping up the Tory government; and with a big opportunity for their ultimate goal in Brexit negotiations might it be smart for them to actually take up their Westminster seats?
- What a mixed night for the pollsters. I imagine that in the Offices of YouGov and Survation they are popping champagne. Their new methodologies utterly vindicated. Whilst the traditional pollsters couldn’t have been more wrong. Stephen Bush wrote a terrific article about the reasons for the variance here, well worth a read post election.
- Lastly what happens to the Lib Dems? If being the only unapologetic party of remain didn’t work for them. And they haven’t really bounced back as some thought they might in traditional heartlands like Cornwall. It is hard to see now any easy route for them becoming big time again. I won’t say they are finished but it is a really long road for them back to anything approaching relevance.
- Lastly what a bad night for Lynton Crosby and negative campaigning. Between nearly throwing away the Scottish Indy referendum, Brexit, the London Mayoral election and now 2017 the dreadful, nasty, negative campaigning model he is so famous for hasn’t half taken a battering.
I do so very hope that the Tories don’t get wise to this and double down on him and his nasty failing way of doing things.
Also published on Medium.