Post election as time passes by you start to be able to step back a little bit and think a bit more about where things are, what it means, where we are going.
And as of today I think things are starting to look a little clearer. On Friday I was jubilant; literally singing and dancing in the office (much to the chagrin of my CWU colleagues who had to put up with it). And rightly so, it was a result that was miles better than I expected; loads better than almost all of us expected if we are honest with ourselves (Props to my political officer Jeff though who wasn’t surprised!).
We now have an excellent platform. In a really good article here; George Eaton from the New Statesman outlines some of the numbers. At a forthcoming general election we will need just a 1.6% swing to become the largest party; and only a 3.57% swing to have a majority. Those numbers mean we are in touching distance.
On top of that the whole narrative about Corbyn, and about Labour has changed. The broadcast media will in future now cover Corbyn like a likely potential PM; and Labour like a likely party of Government. Because he is now, and we are.
Furthermore the Tories have exhausted most of their attack lines on Corbyn; they threw the kitchen sink at him and that kind of negative; anti-Corbyn, personal campaigning just won’t have anything like the same power when re-used. And the grubby little Tory-DUP pact undermines much of their credibility there anyway (more on that later!).
And in terms of campaigning and party organisation we will surely now start riding a crest of a wave. A huge number of enthusiastic youngsters in the ground war made a difference. But in the next election the campaign will also have expectation as well as hope from a larger number of people. And it will be easier for the party to raise election funds.
And the last really big feather we have is the reality of Brexit is really going to start biting I wonder if the tide is already turning a little:-
But as the reality bites the Tories are going to own the bad stuff now. And with no real majority very little they can do about it.
So there are some really good reasons to be optimistic.
But; let’s not get carried away. Despite the jubilation from us we still lost and lost big. Just because we performed massively above expectations; just because we have genuine reason for optimism about the future, it doesn’t mean we are there yet. We aren’t. We were 50 seats short of Government and it will be the Conservative party (if not Theresa May) in power, doing Tory things. And we shouldn’t forget that.
The Labour party has to unite; between his two leadership wins and this fabulous increase in the Labour Party vote share Jeremy Corbyn is untouchable and will be the leader of the Labour party either until he wants to go or we suffer a catastrophic defeat in a general election. Those people within the Labour party who have had doubts needs to accept that this is the way things will be.
So for many of us; great swathes of the “Soft Left” our principal objection to Corbyn was that we just couldn’t conceive of him ever getting us into a position to win a General Election; let alone actually winning one. That has been blown out of the water now so there a a very large number of people who will now get behind him because the objection has been removed.
For the others; those who have deeper ideological concerns it is more difficult. Frankly either you dig in for the long haul and hope that the political pendulum swings back in your direction in time (what I did under the Blair years) or you stay and fight, but fight constructively, for your ideas to have a place in the Labour Party. If you can’t do either of these things though it probably is the case that the Labour Party really isn’t the right place.
And you know what some of that fighting over ideas is needed. We did well on Thursday but not well enough. There is no low hanging fruit for the Labour Party to easily win votes any more and to get those swings that we need we not only have to keep Friday’s coalition together we need to add to it; and yes having a Government will require some of those who voted Tory on Thursday to switch to us.
I’m hopeful that if the party unite; and fight together, that we can bottle what we had, broaden our appeal enough and take the fight to the Tories in this time of crisis.
And on that for those of you who are hard core Corbyn fans and true believers; I’ll say this. I had to eat industrial quantities of humble pie and was happy to do so. But I have been detecting on social media and the like a pretty unedifying current of outright hostility toward people saying “I was wrong”.
Folks that won’t help anyone. You can’t on one hand say “Imagine where we’d be if the coup hadn’t happened and we all had united after Brexit” and then at the same time spurn the advances of those sheepishly saying “Yeah maybe you were right”. In life it is easy to be a magnanimous loser; but harder to be a magnanimous winner. Now is not the time for score settling.
So that is why we should be optimistic; and that is what the party needs to do (IMHO) but let’s not pretend the garden is rosy and there are no problems or pitfalls. There are real threats to us moving forward and no one should be sloppy enough to feel that the next election is in the bag. It isn’t.
The Tories are a formidable enemy. There is a reason why they are the most successful political party in the western world. They are able to be adaptable and pragmatic and they have lots of systemic advantages and bonuses.
So first up at the next election they will not be hampered by Theresa May. She ended up being a manna from heaven for the Labour Party. A truly awful campaigner. Even taking aside the manifesto omni-shambles everything about her campaign and what she did was terrible.
The thing I keep hearing from Tories is what a mistake it was to have a leader who hadn’t had to go through a leadership election; hadn’t had to face the fire of hustings and a competitive campaign, hadn’t had to show they had what it takes in an election. They won’t make that mistake again and whomever comes through will either be Boris; or someone able to beat Boris on the stump. Whomever it is will present more of a direct challenge in the setting of an election campaign that May did.
But much more worrying than that is that they are, believe it or not, ideologically flexible. Just like Sir Alex Ferguson was able to adapt and change his squad and tactical approach time after time; the Tories have always adapted to new ideological frameworks and still survived. Disraeli adapted to the franchise expansion by creating “Ten bob Tories”, Macmillan accepted the post war consensus.
They will look at what happened last week and they will inevitably try to make a policy pitch to undermine us. And it is easier for them; they are never subjected to the same scrutiny over spending that we are. So they will promise some giveaways to try and undermine our support. I bet the next manifesto, and this short time they have in office will see giveaways on say in work benefits, big increases in Police numbers, something for students.
On top of this they will probably try to tempt some Liberal remainers. I think that a “Hard Brexit” is now dead unless it is imposed by the R27. If May goes then whomever wins is very secure for a time. I can imagine a newly elected Boris lamenting at Tory Conference that “Unfortunately the price of minority government is that we have had to reluctantly accept that we temporarily cannot deliver then end of free movement. But we have delivered on leaving the EU with our EEA application” (though said very differently).
At the next election they will have a different leader, a different policy platform and they won’t be underestimating us or Corbyn again. And that should frighten every single one of us.
So we absolutely shouldn’t be thinking it is job done. It isn’t even half done. We are in the best position the Labour party has been since 2007; but there is still a mountain to climb.
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.
Obviously the worst things when something like last night happens is the lives cut short. The families torn apart. Those left behind injured because of lost loved ones, or actually physically maimed by the attack.
Nothings is worse that that and my heart, and unequivocal sympathies go out to all those affected by what happened.
So that is the worst thing, but for me a close second is seeing the Terrorists winning. Seeing the evil bastards who did their things last night getting *exactly* what they were hoping for. Seeing people I know, people I like and expect, dancing to the tune of terrorists. Playing into their hands. Giving them exactly what they want.
When people strap a bomb to themselves to blow up little girls, or drive a van into a crowd of people on a bridge they are not engaging in a military tactic designed to win an armed conflict. They aren’t trying to “Best the British Army” in a war…
No they are engaging in propaganda. They are trying to elicit reactions and responses. They are trying to create the conditions that they believe further their cause. And when you react the way they want you to then you aren’t being strong. You aren’t sticking it to conventional wisdom. Your aren’t “Standing up to the PC Brigade”.
No, you are being the tool of evil violent terrorists. You are being the weapon they are trying to wield. You are puckering up and giving them exactly what they want. And it makes me sick seeing people becoming the useful tools of the evil terrorists who think it is OK to blow up little girls at concerts or drive into people going about their lives walking on a bridge.
It makes me sick seeing them get what they want.
The purpose of a terrorist attack is to provoke a reaction that drives a narrative of “Us vs Them”. By making otherwise sensible non Muslim people post shit on my Facebook feed like “It’s time for us to take some big action”; not saying what that is of course just allowing people to infer what they mean… But trying to drive a narrative that on the one side is every Muslim, and on the other side is everyone else.
And when they succeed by getting people to either think that way, talk that way or better still act that way then they get what they are really after. And that is by getting out reactions to convince a larger proportion of what they consider “Their side” to give up on being normal people and instead sign up to their fascist ideology of religious war.
So every Britain First meme someone reposts attacking Muslims in general helps them trying and convince the next guy that instead of going to uni and becoming an engineer he is in a holy war and should strap a bomb to his chest or drive a truck into people.
When they do this what they are trying to do is make us recruiting Sergeants for ISIS or Al Qaeda or whatever the current international terrorism franchise is currently in the ascendancy.
And I say no. We can’t ever, shouldn’t ever, let them get what they want. We shouldn’t allow them to make us their patsies, and their tools.
And the reality is that they do this stuff because they as desperate. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Because they are manifestly losing the war of hearts and minds normally. Most Muslim people in the UK are not flocking to their banner for armed conflict to the death with the west. These terrorists, and fascists can’t win people over with their arguments or vision or words. Most people in this country have utterly rejected this. And they are having to resort to desperate measures, murderous vile measures, to try and change peoples minds.
And we shouldn’t let them. Not now, not ever.
I’ve seen a lot of people posting about “collective responsibility” that someone how this is the fault of people other than the tiny proportion of Muslims who either do Terrorism, or actively support it. But I don’t think the people posting that even believe it.
Nobody is, or should ever be tarred by the brush of others when it has nothing to do with the. The sins of the Father are not the sins of the Son.
I’m not responsible for the murders that Anders Breivik committed at Utoya, because we are both white and he felt he was fighting a race ware on my behalf. Nor am I responsible for Thomas Mair murdering Jo Cox for the same reason.
All Hindus aren’t responsible for the crimes carried out during the Gujarat Riots in 2002. And all Buddhists aren’t responsible the the crimes by Buddhist nationalists against Muslims in Myanmar. And if you think that Islam is uniquely a religion that causes it adherents to engage in violence in the name of faith you probably don’t want look at the history of Christendom.
Because this is an asymmetric conflict we can’t win it with tanks, or guns. And “eye for an eye” won’t work. Because it is a fight of ideas, not a conflict between military powers. And our reaction if we go down the “eye for an eye” route is exactly what they want, and exactly what strengthens their side in the war of ideas in which they are engaging.
So you don’t have to react they way they want you to. You wanna do something constructive go and give blood. That is probably the single more useful thing you can do to help with this sort of problem in the future.
But please, please don’t give into hate and division. Don’t blame whole groups of people for the actions of a few. Don’t be an active participant and making the world the way these murderous cunts wish it was.
How we react, what kind of world we build. That is on us. In these circumstances, and about these things lots of people like to be experts on religions they don’t know much about. Well the dominant religion here, Christianity has something to say about what we should do:-
“Turn the other cheek”
So for those who want to see this as a clash of civilisations, as a war of religions. That is what “our” religion has to say on the topic.
“Turn the other cheek”,