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Comment: Labour should be embarrassed about atrocious performance

By Peter Madeley | General Election 2019 | Published:

This is the fourth general election on the spin where the Labour Party has failed to win a majority.

Jeremy Corbyn

They have now led the country for 13 of the last 40 years, a record that many of the party’s grandees look at with a mixture of embarrassment and despair.

By the law of averages, 2019 should have been the year when Labour swept to power, coming on the back of nine fairly dismal years of Tory rule where most of the bad things (crime, poverty ...) have gone up, while real terms funding for public services has gone down. The fact the party failed so miserably simply must provoke a degree of soul searching.

There were numerous shortcomings with Labour’s campaign, which mid-way through appeared in danger of total collapse as it finally dawned on party strategists that they were failing miserably in parts of the Midlands and the north.

Many voters were not sold on a manifesto that promised the world but appeared to be unaffordable and undeliverable.

Other pledges – such as the one to compensate WASPI women with billions in borrowed cash – came across as an afterthought blatantly aimed at buying extra votes.

Then there was the nonsense peddled by John McDonnell that Labour would put nearly £7,000 into the pockets of working families.

Anti-Semitism in the party became an issue yet again, as you would expect considering the leadership’s failure to properly tackle it.

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The party’s non-committal Brexit stance was also a major vote loser, made infinitely worse when Mr Corbyn announced that he would remain neutral in his proposed second referendum on a live TV broadcast.

Indeed, the widespread dislike of Mr Corbyn among the millions of voters who have not been converted to his cult undeniably held Labour back this time around.

There is a sense that Labour has forgotten how to succeed in a general election.

Under Mr Corbyn, Labour has given up attempting to win the argument with people who do not usually vote Labour.

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Refocus

The focus has been on preaching to the converted, with cries of ‘ooohhh Jeremy Coooorbyn’ at carefully planned rallies boosting the feel-good factor among supporters but doing nothing to attract voters from elsewhere.

The current crop may not appreciate the likes of Tony Blair, David Miliband and Gordon Brown speaking out about the state of the party during the campaign.

To Corbynites, they represent a wing of the party they are desperate to shake off.

Yet they knew how to win elections, and they knew what was required to make the Labour Party electable.

Mr Blair won so handsomely in 1997, not because he spoke only to those who were dedicated to the Labour cause, but because he converted people who had voted Tory five years earlier.

It is something that Corbyn, McDonnell et al simply do not understand.

They should be embarrassed about their party’s atrocious performance.

The modern-day Labour Party needs to regroup and refocus – and the starting point is to elect a new, capable leader.

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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