Corbyn sceptics, bend the knee and we’ll be in government
Without a shadow of a doubt this snap election has been an unmitigated disaster for the Tories. Entering an election with such a commanding lead only to fritter it on asinine policies like fox hunting and the dementia tax really will prove to be one of the biggest party political overreaches ever recorded. The fact that we’ve had barely two years of a Conservative majority government before they find themselves in an informal coalition with the ever progressive DUP really does speak to what an absolute omnishambles they’ve become as a party. They might have more seats than us but they are absolutely electorally wounded.
Their campaign was rife with complacency, totally pessimistic in nature and helmed by a PM who seemed to permanently be a deer caught in the headlights of the electorate. Meanwhile Labour played by all accounts an absolute blinder considering our starting position. Jeremy seemed totally in his element on the campaign trail and save for a couple of dodgy interviews from members of the Shadow Cabinet our messaging was brilliant. On a local level we’ve possibly seen more Labour members than ever getting out the vote and campaigning. In my constituency of Truro and Falmouth (a traditionally Tory/Liberal seat) we knocked on every door and our candidate came in second, massively reducing the incumbent Tory majority. Key marginals were held, seats gained alongside a vote share increase- confidence and optimism in the party is at a high.
I think part of the reason for this surge in our support is due to Labour appearing as a united front during this election. When we knuckled down and campaigned hard together it showed unity and that’s going to be increasingly important as the Tories fracture in the coming days. Now this isn’t coming from someone who’s been fully on board with Corbyn, I was quite ready to throw my support behind a potential leadership challenge in response to the Copeland by election defeat and poor Stoke Central result. But it’s become clear to me that the public are responding positively to cogent left wing politics like nothing we’ve seen in recent years. The crash of 2008 has provided an opportunity for new ideas to be injected into the bloodstream of political discourse, and we’ve been aware of this phenomenon in regards to Brexit and UKIP but failed to recognise this opportunity is present for progressive ideas too. This isn’t a case of widening debate, but a genuine chance to win the argument on these grounds.
I couldn’t be further away from Westminster but I know which way the wind is blowing and Corbyn is the one to lead Labour into the next general election there’s no doubt in my mind about it. And I’m sure the Parliamentary Labour Party are aware of this too. If we, as a united front take on the Tories I think we could actually win. So that means for the PLP not just avoiding criticising Corbyn through omission but actually going out on the stump and making the case for him as PM. I think Corbyn has a window to really extend an olive branch here and place popular and effective PLP members back into the shadow cabinet in a reshuffle. The likes of Yvette Cooper, Chuka Umunna, Dan Jarvis and Hilary Benn are far too talented to be spending their time languishing on the backbenches where they’re of no use to anyone. That doesn’t mean wholesale removing MPs loyal to Corbyn from the Shadow Cabinet, I think Barry Gardiner and Emily Thornberry have been particularly impressive this election and are deserving of top positions within the cabinet, but there’s certainly a case for some of the more inexperienced MPs loyal to Corbyn to be relocated to junior positions.
As we all know however, the Labour party is more than just the parliamentary operation what matters is also the attitudes between factions in the party. To the those who have been critical of Corbyn from the start I’d you urge to back him, as continued criticism at the same level we’ve seen prior to this election is a recipe for electoral disaster. To those loyal to Corbyn I’d urge you to drop the case for mandatory reselection and general animosity towards the MPs as it only seems to widen the divide between PLP and party membership. Now is not the time to settle scores internally, but time instead to consolidate, compromise and work together in the interests of the United Kingdom.
One statement stuck out to me this election, while there were calls for a progressive alliance to be formed Kezia Dugdale made the poignant remark that “there is already a progressive alliance in the UK- it’s called the Labour party”. I think we’d all do well to remember that sentiment and unite as a party.