I recall Peter Kellner, I think, giving a brief talk on why Labour lost in 2015 at the Fabian thing…
Jonny Morris
91

First of all, anyone describing Corbyn as ‘hard left’ should automatically be disqualified from being taken seriously: he’s no such thing, it’s a media dog-whistle, and the only reason it persists is because so many are not prepared to think for themselves, but slavishly accept that kind of branding. By any fair analysis, JC is a moderate centre-left politician, and most of his actual policies enjoy massive public support: indeed, one consistent feature of all the debates I've had around his leadership has been an inability of his opponents to name one policy other than his unilateralist stance with which they disagree — and that subject, in my opinion, goes beyond any rational debate.

Kinnock didn't save the Labour party, except inadvertently, by moving the party to the right he regained a lot of the ground lost to Foot when the SDP split — and remember, Foot was solidly ahead in the polls until the twin events of the Falklands and the SDP split.

The reason I say that Kinnock didn't save the party is that the ONLY thing which brought Labour to power in 97 was the complete collapse of the Tories: Labour’s percentage of the electoral vote was lower than that of the Conservatives under John Major. If the latter hadn't imploded and become utterly unelectable, Blair would have been just another in the long list of failed Labour party leaders. Remember too that the manifesto for 97 was genuinely pretty left-wing, and didn't have any hint of the shift to the right for which New Labour will be remembered. The obvious question is: what happened to their electoral fortunes in subsequent years following that move rightwards? Answer: they lost 5 million votes, and again, the only thing that kept them in power was the utter hopelessness of the Conservatives. The myth that you only win elections from the centre ground may very well prove to be a worse legacy to the labour movement from Tony Blair than the Iraq war: it simply isn't borne out by an informed reading of history.

Which isn't to say that winning from the left is easy — far from it, the odds are still so stacked against it that it is hard to see it ever succeeding. But, contrary to the popular trope of the anti-JC brigade, you can make a difference without being in government: look at the effect JC has had on Conservative policies in only 9 months — more U-turns and changes of policy than under 5 years of Milliband. And, no less importantly, he has changed the ground of politics, such that ideas which weren't even a talking point two years ago — austerity being both ideologically driven and economically illiterate, unilateral disarmament being a respectable option for consideration. And the idea that Labour can win under a PR manager like Smith is, I’m afraid, just fanciful: all that will achieve is the ‘re-disengagement’ of huge numbers, and a further drift back to the essential irrelevance of the Milliband years.

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