The Idea String

Pulling different strands together

Why Labour lost the election. Again.

Why Labour lost the election. Again.

Why Labour lost the election. Again. 600 315 admin

(reading time: 6 mins)

2019 was a particularly bad election to lose.

This country has more food banks than MacDonalds ( The Tory majority coupled with Brexit gives them carte blanche to finally dismantle the NHS, politicise the courts and introduce voter id across the country, a Republican strategy to discourage the poor from voting. Then there’s Tory indifference to climate change and income inequality. We could be looking at a very different country in 5 years time.

There is no way losing 43% to 32%, 365 to 203 seats can in any way be considered a moral victory, or something to build upon. The Labour party needs to own this failure.

I want more public spending and more taxes on the rich. I support sensible rail nationalisation and an end to private sector involvement in the NHS. I am a long-term centre left voter. I want this country to move to a Norway or Sweden style economic model. I am not a Blairite or Red Tory, or a Woolly Centrist (Ed Milliband’s 2015 campaign was uninspiring). I voted Labour this time. But I can understand why so many did not.

Yes, Brexit and media bias played their part. But it is a loser’s mentality to pin it all on any combination of Brexit, the BBC, the pollsters or the right wing press. These cannot account for the scale of the defeat. The left have always believed there’s an untapped pool of voters who will turn out for an authentic socialist offering, if only the media was fair to them. Worst of all they believe any working class people who don’t agree with them must be being brain washed by mass media. But the media is a two way street. Right wing papers thrive in this country because enough working class people are quietly right wing.

And it’s a depressingly familiar failure. In the Thatcher days I ran into a school mate in town selling The Socialist Worker. The talk was all of brotherhood and unity and togetherness – until I disagreed with him of course. Without a trace of irony he then said “You’re either for us or against us”.

That self-defeating Peoples’ Popular Front of Judea spirit was reborn in Momentum. The hard left created an atmosphere where any criticism of the party’s direction or leader was evidence of a media conspiracy. Anyone who questioned Corbyn’s political genius could be dismissed as a Red Tory or Blairite. The difference in politics now is that thanks to social media, those ideological bubbles become absolute.

Media bias is not the real reason the Tories can get away with empty promises in their manifesto. It’s because every floating voter knows when it comes down to it, the Tories will cut public services instead of raising taxes. As a result, Labour manifestos must account for every spending promise. Tory ones don’t.

The British media has always been right leaning. Which means a Labour leader has to be a more skilled politician than a Tory one to even start on a level playing field. That’s why people like me were dismayed when Corbyn became leader.

It was obvious a party leader who isn’t prepared to use Britain’s nuclear arsenal would be considered soft on national security by many floating voters and immediately lose vital support for Labour. This was a major factor in Michael Foot’s defeat in 1983, a similarly disastrous election.

So here’s a mantra for Labour 2024…. Floating voters decide every election. Floating voters, not party members. Floating voters, not activists.

Floating voters, not social media bubbles.

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