At the same time as everybody is calling for the Party to pause, reflect and listen before rushing to replace the failed Corbyn leadership the starting gun has been fired by some of the possible contenders and their outriders for the Leadership of the Party. This is completely the wrong way round.
My heart sinks as I read the internal local Labour Party Facebook posts about the leadership election ahead. We have just come off the worst election defeat since 1935 and already people are falling into their differing camps based on some vague ideological difference or who they ‘like’ the look of. There is a big task ahead that needs a time to pause and reflect.
Face Up to Why We Lost
There are two things we need to do before even starting to think who should replace Corbyn. First we need to have the honest debate about why we lost. Whilst there will be a multitude of smaller issues that stack up against Labour we can see form the evidence already gathered that it was Corbyn, the Brexit position (losing both Leave and Remain votes) , the Manifesto (whilst some individual policeis may have been ‘popular’ the total lack of understanding of politics continually astounds me from those on the Left) and the shambolic campaign. Throw in anti-semitism and you have a heady mix of reasons not to vote Labour for many of our supporters.
I am sure as I return to further analysis we can add more reason and in a lot more detail, but this is the essence of why we lost. Those voters who deserted us (and many who held their noses and still voted Labour as the least worst alternative) couldn’t abide Corbyn personally or what he stood for. It wasn’t the MSM or billionaires and suggesting people were duped is insulting to them. Corbyn was toxic.
Before we decide what comes next we need to understand what went wrong and furthermore how we build the coaltion of support needed to win a Labour majority. Just winning back the Midlands and north won’t be enough. Once again seats like Loughborough are inthe mix but now with a 7100 majority! Looking at this list of seats compiled by the Fabians shows the size of the task and the mix of seats needed in 2024. So simply chasing either the ‘working class’ vote or University Towns won’t cut it. We need somebody who understands what it takes to win across our current base plus these seats listed below.
Leadership Qualities Required
Second and equally as important is we have to decide the skill set required to be leader of the Labour Party (part 1) and then in (Part 2) how to look and sound like a potential Prime Minister. Most of the names I have seen promoted already barely cover part 1… never mind getting anywhere near being ready for stage 2. To be fair sometimes the office can help grow an individual into looking Prime Ministerial. Sadly even making Corbyn wear a dark suit and tie never achieved this. But it goes beyond just looking the part. When I see the names mentioned to date I fear for the quailty of the debate ahead. Where are all the heavyweights with experience?
The mistake being made is Party members basing their decisions on those who they ‘like’ or think have done a reasonable job on Newsnight once or twice. This is what blinded many of them to the Corbyn disaster. Not enough listened to the evidence of what they were being told and what they MUST have heard on the doorstep. We warned them but were all just dismissed. Whilst the next leader must have respect within the Party their popularity outside is much more inportant. If you don’t believe this you are turning the Party into an ideological sect again (from all wings) whilst its primary purpose must be to win elections and put into practise its plans and policies.
Not Rushing to a Decision
So I will not be rushing to make any decision about who to support. I know who I won’t be voting for. Anybody who denies the reasons I have given above for our defeat. If they just parrot the Momentum line and want a repeat of Corbynism but just without Jeremy we will be making the same mistake again.
So for those who are NOT Party members or usually massively into supporting the Labour Party and who may have not voted for us last week who would you suport out of the names mentioned already? Your opinions are the ones we need to hear. Not the Faithful.
Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Jess Phillips, Lisa nandy, Yvette Cooper, Emily Thornberry, Clive Lewis, Dan Jarvis, Jon Ashworth?
If none of these make your top 2-3 who else not currently being mentioned should throw their hat in the ring? And more importantly why?
At this stage I don’t really care what Labour Party members think. They have shown in recent times a lack of election winning judgement on these matters. Let’s be smart and listen first and then decide? How radical would that be! Picking an election winner.
Corbyn Should Resign Now
And finally I think there is nothing to be gained by Corby hanging around until next March. His presence will just be embarrasing in the New Year. Any interim leader who can genuinely oversee a review of the lost election and can add some much needed crediblity to the party would be far more welcome. Both Harriet Harman and Margaret Beckett did fine jobs when they deputised before. It doesn’t have to be them clearly but we have enough experience to put Corbyn on the back benches where he has always belonged.