So much has been written and said over the last few days about the state of the Labour Party after Copeland that my brief intervention here isn’t that important. But after reading and listening to so much analysis over the weekend I needed to be clear in my own mind what is going on and what we do about it. Therefore, this blog is probably more for me to clarify my own thought process, but if anybody finds it of interest that’s an added bonus!
I have hovered over a keyboard for the last 48 hours almost stunned into silence by the scale of what is happening to our Labour Party under Corbyn but then shocked at the sheer inability for Corbynistas to acknowledge just how awful these results were.
I put my hands up. I have never thought the Corbyn experiment was a good idea or would work. Over a year ago when I predicted Corby could take us down to 25% in the polls this was my worst case scenario. Now that is where we are hovering and the By-election results only confirmed that the polls as they always do slightly inflate real support for Labour.
There are so many issues that need to be taken on in the aftermath of the last few weeks I am not sure one blog will be enough. I will try to break down all of the complex issues into a series of manageable thoughts. As always these jottings are as much for me to make sense of the politcal world around me as for the sake of anybody else. Indeed for the first time this week I have left a particular Labour forum on facebook because I don’t have the time or energy to argue against Corbynites who won’t let a single fact get in the way of their belief that they are on the macrh to some great victory. In fact when I posted this joke list of excuses the corbynites had come up with for the defeat in Copeland they actually assumed it was a proper briefing paper from Labour to explain the defeat.
When these weren’t working they posted the weather reports of #Doris to prove that Labour voters had stayed home. It has reached the stage that I can’t tell the parody accounts from the real ones any longer on the left.
All of this would be comical if it wasn’t so serious. As Jonathan Freedland pointed out in this article the Tory government under Theresa May is allowed to preside over a series of disasters that would in normal time bring down a government with a 12 seat majority because there is no serious opposition or prospect of a Labour government soon.
So the reason I have to bang on about the disastrous state of the Labour leadership is because I care so much about the damage the Tories are doing to the country with their hard brexit, undermining of the NHS, and destruction of all public services. I care so much that I can’t wait for us to lose the next election. That will mean another 8 years of this destruction. That doesn’t bear thinking about. And it seems I am no longer alone. Apart from the most delusional of Corbynites it seems some are finally starting to realise Corbyn is a liability and this won’t work. In the New Statesman even UNSION Dave Prentiss hardly needs reading between the lines to work out what he is saying (although how many more disasters will it take). I am sure by even daring to criticise the dear leader I will be described by the usual tags – red tory, Blairite, traitor etc. But as I have always avoided labels I have no intention of being boxed into one now. I have been described as Bennie to Blairite so I guess not all of you can be right!
So why don’t people like me just shut up and let JC lead. Well we have tried that since he won the second leaderships election (I will deal with this nonsense of disunity and a legitimate leadership election elsewhere) and where has that led? We are now 16-18 points behind the Tories and we just lost Copeland. The list of excuses trotted out above over the last 48 hours means we can no longer afford to let Jeremy get on with the job, lead us into 2020, lose badly and then try to pick up the pieces. I fear there will be now pieces left to pick up if keep heading in this trajectory.
Being complacent about the depth of the problem leads to this sort of analysis.
Here Corbyn supporter Cat Smith tried to argue the result from Copeland was an incredible achievement considering we were 18 points behind in the polls. I really don’t know where to start with this sort of muddled thinking. On what planet is 18% behind in the polls acceptable and what on earth is remarkable about that then playing out in an electoral disaster?
In Copeland we played the NHS card gifted to us by the Tories handling of the issue and the local potential closure of maternity services. Even with a basic message that babies will die if you don’t vote Labour they still decided to vote Tory.
As for the Corbyn tweet – that this was an anti- establishment vote. Where do you start. So people now vote against the establishment by voting for the party of government? That’s a new one on me!
So when Ian Lavery MP said the leader couldn’t possibly be blamed because ” he is one of the most popular politicians in the country” I had to spit out my breakfast cereal. I know they don’t ‘trust’ the polls but on every measure and amongst almost every demographic and age group Corbyn has record levels of dissatisfaction amongst the electorate (and even Labour voters). He has lost more working class support than any Labour leader amongst C2s DEs etc. He is now 36 points behind Tory PM Theresa May!
The summary of where I have got to is simple.
- Corbyn (And his Cabal) are a disaster for the electoral prospects of the Labour Party – a blog to follow with all the evidence piling up on why this is the case and how much is down to him
- His leadership can’t hang onto seats we hold so how on earth do we think we will win the 107 seats we need to gain to have a majority of 1. I will do some more deeper analysis of Loughborough now 97th on the Target list and no candidate in sight!
- The Tory Government is getting away with everything because of his weak leadership & yet this government is vulnerable (12 seat majority) & May would be vulnerable to a strong and popular opposition
- We can’t just unite behind a useless leader and hope all will be well… we have to speak out to get Corbyn to do the honourable thing and admit he is incapable of winning in 2020 for Labour – as @Cheggers1971 said “If you see an inevitable car crash looming do you try to raise the alarm or sit back, do nothing and then say whoops I told you so?
- We can’t just keep blaming the MSM or #fakenews. The most important job of a Labour leader is to understand there will be media bias! The job is not to just keep moaning about it but to work out how to work with the media and negate the worst aspects of this. And making the case we are doing better on social media is also mistaken.
- They can’t just keep blaming Blairism. He left a decade ago! I saw them doing this with Copeland. They make up this idea that 1997 was year zero and w/c votes were lost steadily.
- This graph is useful because it makes the clear point that 97 was a high point and all these ‘lost’ votes the Corbynites bang on about were from a political high we can only dream of… It took us 83-97 to learn last time!
- There is no chance of another leadership election – so it is those who supported Corbyn who will increasingly come to the same conclusion as those of us who got there a little sooner who will have to give this message
- Those of who seek change should remain on message and unified in the evidence we have to show why the car crash is happening and stay calm and collected in the way we make our arguments. We shouldn’t sink into the social media gutter and repeat the mistakes of the aggressive trolls. We need to be forceful but graceful. I need to learn this a little.
- We have to do this now. Waiting until 2020 is no longer an option. I know that many PLP colleagues cannot speak out and want to make sure JC is taking the heat for the his own disasters, so we have to help create the climate that they are able to speak up again!
- As for the questions – well who else? At the moment anybody more coherent and presentable than Corbyn would be a start. No room here but we can have that fun speculating on another blog. But how about this for starters. lets start debating a brighter future in the post Corbyn Labour party. At least this will give us something to look forward to and not this constant depressing feeling that we have to have another decade of Tory Government.
- I am sure we probably need to draw up a JD and Person Spec for the leader next time! I tried to kick off this debate last time. In no other sphere of sport or business where I work would we have such little idea about the leadership qualities we need, rather than simply voting for the nearest ideological fit. It’s a bizarre system we have but I guess we are stuck with.
On a separate note – there is nowhere near enough space to deal with Labour and #BREXIT here. But more thoughts will follow. There is a genuine mess we have now.
These are some early thoughts and most of these need expanding – but the central message is clear. We can’t just carry on with Corbyn at the helm otherwise the Party is in danger of disappearing as a serious force in British political life.