Right, well that’s gone well.
Clearly the Tories now have a massive majority and they can do what they like. With a 1% swing to 43% of the vote they have a 60% majority in the House of Commons, so let’s let the introspective navel gazing begin and/or continue - given that it’s taken me a few days to get this out, I’m going with continue. This is still just raw feelings, so I am going to reserve the right to change my mind on any and all of this as I calm down and contemplate over the coming weeks.
To clarify I joined Labour back in September before the election was announced, when it was obvious it was coming - campaigns are, after all, expensive. I’m not leaving now - I consider myself left of what is currently centre left (i.e. I think Blair was centre right). I think on the current rules I’ll be able to vote in the leadership election.
1 - Jeremy Corbyn has to go, whatever you think of him, his position is now simply untenable. I don’t think he was an especially effective leader, I joined Labour despite him not because of him. I simply don’t think he lead the party very well. I liked most of the policies put forward under his leadership and I think that almost certainly he’s a good man and I’m sure if he could’ve popped round everyone’s house and sat down with each and everyone of us for half an hour and a cup of tea he’d be PM instead of Johnson but that is not how leadership works.
There will be complaints that there were smears and the media was against him and the PLP never wanted him and undermined him all the time. There’s some truth to that, but to be frank it no longer matters. You can’t lose 2 general, 1 Euro and 1 Local election and stay. He has to go and he has to go now. An interim leader is needed now to guide the process of selecting of a new leader. A party grandee who won’t be putting themselves forward for leadership - out of the MP’s left, controversially, I’d go for Ed Miliband to steady the ship.
2 - The infighting needs to stop. Right the fuck now!
Unity and solidarity is the only way forward. Every Labour MP needs to give full throat support to the new leader, all of the membership needs to give full throat support of all Labour MP’s. No more “Blairite” bashing and no more “knifing in the front”. Broad church party with one voice. This needs to be enforced from the top, any hint of infighting needs immediate full censure.
This needs to start now and the leadership election needs to be completely positive. What are the candidates standing for, how will they lead the party forwards not who and what they stand against. A bloodbath of a leadership election will come back to haunt us at every opportunity until 2024 and beyond.
3 - Antisemitism still needs dealing with. Antisemitism allegations didn’t start when Corbyn arrived they were well underway by then. Corbyn inherited a backlog of complaints.
I’m sure there is antisemitism in the party and there is antisemitism amongst Labour and Corbyn supporters/voters who are not party members, just as there is antisemitism in society as a whole that’s the simple fact of it.
I’m not close enough to the issues to know if it is as endemic and institutionalised as has been suggested or as falsely weaponized as the suggestion is often repudiated. I suspect that the truth, if such an objective thing can exist on this subject, falls somewhere in the middle.
The only way forward on this, and the only solution that addresses the issue both if it is either endemic or falsely weaponized or something in between, is a totally and utterly, fully transparent and truly independent expedient complaints procedure followed by whatever recommendations the EHRC investigation brings back. There is no wiggle room, and this needs to be done now by the interim leader and the NEC so that the first question that the next permanent leader faces isn’t "so what are you going to do about antisemitism" because if we do nothing that is what will happen and there will not be an answer ready and we're into the local elections still not having dealt with antisemitism.
4 - Party policy discipline is needed, especially within whoever makes up the next shadow cabinet. This was particularly noticeable by its absence under Jeremy’s leadership. There needs to be one policy and everyone needs to support it or shut up. Dissenting voices now need to be private voices. We can no longer have the leader saying one thing but then less than an hour later, a member of the shadow cabinet contradicting this on the Today programme. That shit has to stop.
5 - We need to be open to the possibility of working with other parties. We need to be willing to not stand in seats we cannot win - I know there are knock on issues with campaign spending limits and short money allocation but we have to suck that up. Those issues are not as important as beating the Tories and to do that we need to win within the election system that is in place in the UK now means pulling out where we can’t win and helping another party take or keep a seat off the Tories. Any seat the Tories do not win is good news.
6 - Brexit (allows a second for the reader to sigh)
Labour’s Brexit position didn’t lose the election. Labours lack of leadership on Brexit did. I’ve written about this previously and I know not everyone agrees, I get that. For a lot of people Brexit was above party loyalty and Labour voters were split on this to an extent that other party's voters were not.
There is no magic answer to this problem. Whichever way, leave or remain, Labour went after the referendum it was always going to be hard to take all of the previous voters we needed to there straight away but we needed to actively try.
Saying “by backing a 2nd referendum labour lost it’s heartlands” is just as false as saying “respecting the referendum we would’ve kept them and won this election”. Labour demographic was complex, and its' position needed to be complex but it needed to be grounded in the reasons people voted for Brexit in the first place and it wasn't
Politics and politicians have failed the country on Brexit. To have truly respected the referendum it’s obvious that what the country needed on the 24th of June, was for all parties to come together and work with each other in a collaborative way to ensure that the vote was respected and everyone got an acceptable Brexit. That did not happen. Nothing even close to that happened, and now nothing like that will happen.
Labour don’t and can’t shoulder all of the blame on this not being in power meant they could only react to what the Tories did, obviously, but I'm criticising myself as much as anyone else here and that Labour is where my focus of what I want to happen next is today. Cameron resigning and launching the Tories into an acrimonious leadership battle in those first few crucial weeks was the defining catastrophe of what happened next and all that followed on from that stemmed from that choice of confrontation over collaboration. May coming in, having been bruised by her own, was never going to try to work with the opposition.
Labour mishandled their response too. Calling for immediate triggering of Article 50 in the days after, was a complete mistake and set Labour on a path of confrontation with Cameron's successor rather than allowing the possibility of anything positive from the process - and from then there was no way back.
7 - We need to find a way to break the media monopoly on our message. I don’t know what this is yet or how it can be achieved. At the moment I think we’re going to struggle but we need to try.
We need a way of calling out the bias where it happens. There are too many examples in this election, we had the BBC grilling everyone but the Tories, debates with everyone but the Tories, the Tories literally hid and said little but “Get Brexit Done” and we failed to tear through that. In the last few days you had BBC reporters calling it "the majority he [Johnson] so deserves" and talking about knowing the results of the postal votes.
If you ever need convincing that media bias is so absolutely corrupting in this country look to Liverpool. Due to abhorrent reporting on Hillsborough from the Murdoch press, Liverpool as a whole has practically eliminate the circulation of The Sun, and what has happened? They were returning Labour MP's with smaller drops and whacking majorities
Other practical stuff we can all do to help each other.
I’m not expecting anyone to even read this (I see my website stats) but if you do there are some practical things we can do now to start the fight back against the Tories and what they are doing to society.
Join Labour if you are not a member. Stick with Labour if you are a member.
Join you Union if you have on at your workplace. You may need them in the years to come.
Break down your echo chambers. Listen respectfully to people you disagree with .Talk to each other, don’t feel personally attacked when someone disagrees with you. Don’t attack people you disagree with.
If you can afford to, support your local charities. This government is going to start an assault on our rights and on our very lives. There will be people who cannot survive this without help.
Talk to people who need someone, don’t walk past with your head down. Even if you can’t help practically, speak to them like they are human just for a few minutes, this alone can make a difference.
So that’s where I am right now - feel free to agree or disagree. Next , I’m going to ease off Twitter for a few days until after Christmas. I just need a break for a bit to get my head straight. It’s going to be long 5 years and at the moment I don't know what to do to help the most.