It could have been worse. We have just seen our biggest defeat since 1935, to a Conservative Party seeking a fourth term of office – even though they had just spent almost a decade making a mess of governing the country. And it could have been worse.
If the Brexit Party hadn’t split the vote, we’d have lost my old seat in West Hull and John Prescott’s in East Hull. Ed Miliband would have been defeated, as would Yvette Cooper and many more in Labour heartlands where working class voters have stuck with us from the steam age to the era of the internet.
How could we have got it so wrong? How could the main opposition party with everything in its favour not just fail to pick up seats but fall below our previous low-water mark of 1983 when we could only win 209.
How could we have got it so wrong? How could the main opposition party with everything in its favour not just fail to pick up seats but fall below our previous low-water mark of 1983
Back then, under the leadership of Kinnock, Smith and Blair we purged the party of the far-Left – those cliques and cults that have since Labour’s creation sought to use us as a cloak of respectability for their extremism and intolerance.
The result was that in 1997 we won 418 seats, precisely double the 1983 tally, and were back in power.
Throughout the years when Militant and other forces of revolutionary socialism almost destroyed the Labour Party, they never entirely captured the castle. But in 2015, they did, thanks to Ed Miliband’s changes to the leadership rules.
Jeremy Corbyn is a throwback to the Bennism of the early 1980s – a perpetrator of the ‘culture of betrayal’ that vilified every previous Labour leader for making compromises rather than pursuing the socialist transformation of society.
Every Labour leader that is except for Clement Attlee who Corbyn and his pals try to claim as an upholder of the true faith.
But Attlee was attacked by the Corbynistas of his day, for his determination not to bow to extremism. It was the Attlee Government that supported the creation of Israel, established Nato and developed Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Attlee’s Labour Party was, above all, patriotic and would have nothing to do with class warfare.
Under the leadership of Kinnock, Smith and Blair we purged the party of the far-Left – those cliques and cults that have since Labour’s creation sought to use us as a cloak of respectability for their extremism and intolerance
Corbyn and Momentum (the personality cult created to keep him in power) do not advance the tradition of Attlee, they betray it. They are more concerned with ideological purism than winning elections.
Here is a Thursday night tweet from its founder, Corbyn’s old mate Jon Lansman denouncing somebody who wanted Labour to win: ‘“Winning” is the small bit that matters to political elites who want to keep power themselves.’
There you have it from the horse’s mouth. To him, Labour’s defeat doesn’t matter. Victory is a bourgeois concept. The only goal for true socialists is glorious defeat.
Why didn’t we win?
Nye Bevan said that socialism was the language of priorities, but in this Election, Labour tried to fool the public into thinking that money was no object, which made the manifesto look like the wish-list of a pressure group rather than a serious plan for a potential party of government. But the main problem at this Election wasn’t the manifesto; the main problem was Corbyn. A weak, self-regarding, pious man incapable of leadership.
Indeed, most of his Momentum supporters despise the very concept of leadership. All decisions must be made by the rank-and-file, which effectively means a clique of activists and Len McCluskey.
The working classes looked at Corbyn and saw somebody who was unpatriotic to the extent that the country’s enemies were his friends. They hated his pacifism, his simplistic division of the world between evil oppressors and their victims, his disdain of aspiration.
Alan Johnson (right) took part in ITV’s election night coverage with (from left) former Minister Jo Johnson, Gisela Stewart, and former Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson
Most of all, they didn’t recognise themselves in Corbyn’s depiction of working-class people as having no individual identity, only a collective role as part of the downtrodden masses. They decided well before this Election and irrespective of Brexit that they would never let him cross the threshold of 10 Downing Street.
Of course, Brexit was an issue. It has created the biggest crisis in our peacetime history, but it served to reinforce the conclusion the electorate had already reached about Corbyn’s weakness. He would negotiate a new deal (we were told) and then hold a gerrymandered referendum during which he would give no indication as to which option he supported. ‘I am their leader therefore I must follow them,’ is not a captivating slogan for a potential Prime Minister.
Why on earth Labour didn’t support Theresa May’s soft Brexit deal keeping Britain in the Customs Union, I’ll never understand.
Caroline Flint was heroic in her pursuit of that outcome and now she’s gone, along with so many other good Labour MPs.
Corbyn has to go now. The thought of him still leading the party on February 27, 2020, the 120th anniversary of its creation, will be anathema to Labour supporters who have been offended by the antisemitism that he allowed to take root. For, make no mistake, this curse began with Corbyn and the extremists who used the £3 membership to infiltrate our party and bolster his leadership bid.
Returning to Clem Attlee, in a book marking the 50th anniversary of Labour’s creation, he wrote this about that first half-century: ‘It is a story very characteristic of Britain, showing the triumph of reasonableness and practicality over doctrinaire impossibilism.’
It is time to return to the tradition of Attlee, Wilson and Blair in order to make Labour electable again.
Do not underestimate Momentum’s determination to remain as a party within a party. Either we get rid of that cult or we become the cult ourselves.