As we all know now, Boris Johnson remains Prime Minister and the Tories have a vastly increased majority which allows them to do whatever they like which should scare anyone. They managed though to only gain 268,836 votes compared to 2017, but Labour lost 2,595,282 compared to 2017 and there’s your problem right away. Labour lost the trust of millions of voters for a large number of reasons. Here in Scotland, Labour have been slowly dying probably since devolution, but the rot started in the 80’s when the ‘Feeble 50’ were sent to Westminster and promptly rolled over for Thatcher’s Tories.
The party expected people to vote Labour. They took votes for granted so when people started moving away from Labour to the SNP, it was because a liberal-left party who promised a change welcomed those votes. They also had the advantage of being untainted by support for the Iraq war, which to this day causes massive division within Labour.
Labour’s problem in Scotland was it didn’t listen. So when Holyrood was lost to them what did they do? Did they question what they’d done wrong? No, they blamed voters, called them ‘nationalists’ while comparing them to UKIP and started electing a series of leaders on a UK and Scottish level who were utterly hopeless. Imagine the mindset that thinks Kezia Dugdale, Jim Murphy or Richard Leonard are going to inspire Scotland, or that Ed Milliband was a PM in waiting?
Then came Jeremy Corbyn. For a moment it seemed Labour had someone who could understand Scotland, while firming up their support down south who by now were getting shaky. Corbyn for a while was a breath of fresh air but by the 2016 EU Referendum it was clear he was unable to lead a party into a national vote. In 2017 they did increase their vote from 2015 but it didn’t matter because they lost, but for many within Labour they treated 2017 as a victory so this weird hubris settled in where people treated 2017 as a victory when the Tories retained power. Voters noticed this.
Back in 2017 I wrote about Corbyn’s appearance at Glastonbury that year and how things were setting itself up for a fall. My closing lines suggest some form of precognition but sadly, I (like many, many, many others) just saw this hubris and saw the writing on the wall.
What we saw in England on Thursday were Labour voters tired of the deadlock over Brexit choosing the Tories who had a strict, clear message of ‘get Brexit done’. Now it’s a nonsense as Brexit will take a decade at the bare minium but Labour’s position on Brexit was a triangulation of Blairesque proportions had it actually worked. The problem was nobody believed it, just as nobody believed the nationalisation plans were workable, or if it was, it wouldn’t be the middle-class support Labour had which would end up paying for it, it’d be the working class. With no socially progressive or socially democratic party to turn to, the hard/far right in the shape of the Brexit Party and Johnson’s Tories to well, get Brexit done.
However voters were clearly fed up of Corbyn, Momentum and the London-based media cheerleaders like Owen Jones speaking at them while not listening. There’s precious little left-wing journalism in the UK media and much of it fell short, and in fact, help gift the Tories when they least expected it. Chasing away older voters in the hope younger voters would replace them was an insane electoral policy, as was calling potential voters ‘Blairites’ or ‘yellow/red/tartan Tories’. Telling people they weren’t needed to vote Labour if they weren’t a ‘real’ socialist came with a bitter irony as much of the time it came from the sort of people who held the working class in sheer contempt.
Then there was the antisemitism. Corbyn failed to deal with this from the moment he became leader, and while members and MP’s were disciplined for trying to stop Brexit almost instantly, holocaust deniers were allowed to remain and thrive in the party for years before being expelled. Labour were supposed to be a party to set examples but they didn’t so antisemitism festered with members spiraling into conspiracy theories about ‘secretive right-wing groups’ organising the Jews against them. Something no other minority would be accused of.
On top of that were the reams of accusations, and while I do sympathise as Corbyn was at time monstered appallingly, my sympathy fell away. For me it was reading about his opinions regarding the genocide in the Balkans. For others they had their own red lines. I know people in England who refuse to vote Labour til Corbyn and the weird hubristic cult around him are gone. Some are lifelong Labour, even in one case a union official who can’t put what he represents in power. This on top of a shambolic campaign meant a bad night for Labour who seem even now more interested in some political project of purity than beating the Tories or winning elections.
Books are going to be written as to why we’re here and these are just my thoughts, but the fact is that if Labour doesn’t oppose now, then we’re fucked. If Scotland doesn’t become independent (and that involves a fight that I’ll cover in another blog) then with all my health issues I don’t foresee myself being around for the long run. Neither will tens of thousands of people counting on Labour to stop fucking around and just fight rather than act like it’s all a jolly undergraduate game. Some good MP’s are gone, while some on the ground must feel like their party has betrayed them.
First step to this would be Corbyn standing down right away but he remains, and while he does we can’t count on Labour for anything, so this bullshit helps enable the Tories while folk like myself despair at the state of things that’s come. Make no mistake, the Tories will cull any opposition while they can, and they have no intention of living up to their promises which is where their potential downfall lies as that narrative needs to start now. Instead Corbyn supporters spout egotistic self-absorbed guff about Corbyn rather than working out why they failed, and how they can become electable again. Hiding in their safe spaces is just hiding from reality.
And to work out how to become electable they need to accept responsibility like adults. If they don’t then step aside let the adults reshape their party as there’s much good which can be taken from Corbynism, but failing to act now is prolonging the failure.
This blog has grown larger than intended, so next up why people voted Tory, and then what the SNP have to do to help Scotland become independent.