Comment: Labour must dig deep for a mainstream leader

Things to do on the allotment in December.

Plenty of things to keep you busy down on the allotment during December
Plenty of things to keep you busy down on the allotment during December

If you unexpectedly find yourself with time on your hands at this time of year, you will discover that the chill winds of winter can leave things in an awful mess.

If things are really bad, the first thing to do is consider whether it is a job for you.

There may be others who could be better equipped for the task of preparing the devastated landscape for better times.

It is natural to be reluctant in such circumstances to make that all-important trip to tend your allotment, and you may need the encouragement of your pals to give you a necessary push.

Moving on from seasonal gardening advice, here are the general election headlines: Game over. UK 1, London 0 (and Scotland withdrew entirely).

In Remain Central, they are puzzling over the British electorate once again, who just won’t be told.

Ordinary people revolted, as they did in the 2016 referendum.

All the clever people in London, who really understand the issues, all the MPs of the Labour Party, which is now so London-centric it should be rebranded the London Labour Party, and the London-based commentators and opinion formers, are in despair.

Once again, the “northern” folk – northern in this context means anybody living outside Greater London – did not know what they were voting for.

These capital citizens just don’t get out enough, do they?

Hunkered down in a bunker above a wine bar on Camden High Street, Sir Keir Starmer watched the battle beyond the M25 through his binoculars and as another Labour constituency blew up and disappeared below the waves he turned to Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbott, and commented: “Something seems to be wrong with our voters today.”

Not even convoys of coaches heading down the M6 packed with Scottish judges can stop Brexit now.

For Labour, it’s like 1983 all over again but there’s a factor which makes it even worse.

After an electoral thumping like this, the question to be answered is: where did we go wrong?

Labour knew back in 1983. Its left wing agenda under Michael Foot didn’t get enough votes and there was a realisation the party would have to broaden its appeal if it was ever to hope to get into power.


Foot bowed out and Neil Kinnock began to remodel the party.

He was the true architect of Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide.

Thursday’s defeat at the polls was a double disaster for Labour.

Not only has it moved backwards and lost support among its traditional supporters, it is a trouncing which sows the seeds for a continuing civil war.

Labour went to the polls with a radical manifesto championed by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

But it is not clear whether that lost them the election, and if a radical manifesto was not an obvious vote-loser, it can be argued there is no reason for Labour to abandon those policies.

This is the line already being taken by Corbyn supporters who are pinning the blame for the defeat on Labour’s stance on Brexit, a stance which showed that if you take sitting on the fence to extremes, you are liable to end up being painfully impaled.

That Brexit policy was truly extraordinary. It went something like this. Diehard Remainers like Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry would, on behalf of the UK, go to Brussels to negotiate a Brexit deal, which would then be put to voters as a “credible” deal despite being literally incredible as they would not believe in it themselves, would not support it and would actually campaign against the very deal they had negotiated.

While Jeremy Corbyn would adopt a neutral stance on the most pressing issue to face the nation.


When the policy was outlined to voters during television debates, a common reaction seems to have been laughter, which was not exactly a good sign.

According to some Labour candidates Jeremy Corbyn was himself a turn off for many voters on the doorstep, and the anti-semitism row won’t have helped.

The complaint that Labour’s defeat was down to fake news drummed up by the press and an anti-Labour BBC doesn’t credit voters with much intelligence.

Labour has fallen so far the party now potentially faces a dark decade with no realistic prospect of gaining power until at least 2029.

A game to play around the dinner table is to consider what the general election result would have been if the Tories had adopted Labour’s Brexit policy, and Labour had gone to the polls with a Get Brexit Done policy.

Barring some extraordinary legal creativity by Joanna Cherry, aided by a surprise comeback by John Bercow, it looks certain that GBD will be fulfilled next month, after which the whole political game will fundamentally change.

Because the Stop Brexit message no longer applies and it will have to be a Rejoin The EU rallying cry.

That’s the fly in the ointment for the Scottish National Party in their hour of triumph.

If Scotland becomes independent, it will face various hurdles if it wants to get back into the EU.

Meanwhile, Labour will, in the coming days, weeks, or months, seek a new leader.

Whoever it is needs to be in touch with mainstream British voters.

London MPs need not apply then.

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