The ‘Labour Together’s’ review of the 2019 election defeat apparently exposes “dysfunctionality, toxicity and drift inside the party’s election-fighting machine.”
Apparently, they think “Negative perceptions of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, doubts about the manifesto and the party’s ambivalent Brexit stance” had a lot to do with it. I doubt the majority of the party membership had issues with his leadership or the manifesto myself. They may have had a little issue with Corbyn’s stance on Brexit but he was simply offering voters a chance to vote on the final deal – not quite sure what’s ambivalent about that but hey if your argument sounds more punchy when you use words like “ambivalent” then have at it but you should know you’ve already lost your argument with me. No mention of how certain Labour party officials on the right publicly attacked the party’s Brexit position or how that might have impacted the voting.
“We were rejected by many of the communities we were founded to represent”. A pretty bold statement for them to make but, I was prepared to read on in order to understand how they came to this conclusion.
According to the report, Labour didn’t have a coherent message. Well, as I recall, it wasn’t all that different to the 2017 message and that seemed to work rather well. Clearly, the only real difference in 2019 was the dividing line set up on the Brexit issue between the LibDems and the Tories. Perhaps what the report is stopping short of saying is that Labour didn’t pick a side. Anyone with half a brain cell knows that if Labour had done that then that would have been the death of the party. The Blairites seem to think that losing large chunks of the voting population are sacrifices worth making. Precisely the sort of ideology that lost Labour every seat in Scotland. It’s arguments like this that reinforce my theory that the party must have Tory infiltrators working to destroy the party from the inside.
The report then claims that the Tories “Get Brexit done” message hit home and that “the Conservatives succeeded in turning out 2 million previous non-voters, accounting for two thirds of the increase in their vote share.” This doesn’t really stand up to any close scrutiny because the Tory margin increased by a mere 329,767 votes (from their 2017 election result). The LibDems on the other hand gained 1,324,562 new voters.
According to the report, some Labour “candidates felt they did not receive enough support from the national party.” An element of déjà vu perhaps? After all, the leaked GLU report revealed that right wing saboteurs within the party had employed this tactic to throw the 2017 election as well.
For some odd reason, the report focus’s almost entirely on Labour’s failure to counter the Tory Brexit narrative and yet, as we know, the voting data shows that the Tories made hardly any gain in vote share. The report makes no mention at all of how the LibDems took the lion’s share of drifting Labour voters (and new voters).
They also try to argue that Corbyn’s popularity had declined but there doesn’t appear to be anything other than personal opinion to support this claim.
They then reference analysis of a YouGov poll that claimed “the manifesto as a whole was unrealistic, risky and unlikely to be delivered.” YouGov polls are unreliable in my experience as they rely on small catchments and can be selective when it comes to who they target. Also, having observed how they presented popularity polling data during the last 2 elections, it’s became clear to me that they demonstrated obvious bias in favour of the conservative leadership. For example, instead of posting popularity poll results at regular intervals, during the election, they would leave large gaps whenever Labour got some positive publicity or when the Conservatives got some negative publicity.
It’s worth pointing out that some seats did switch from Labour to Conservative but this isn’t necessarily as a result of a gain in Tory vote share. The increase in vote share for pro-remain parties was far more significant. Unfortunately, for the LibDems & Greens, this didn’t result in them winning a single seat but it did negatively impact Labour’s vote share and handed the election to the Tories.
Jon Trickett and Ian Lavery, both pro-Brexiteers, have apparently claimed that the party’s failure to honour “the democratic vote for Brexit” was it’s biggest downfall and yet, again, this argument falls flat when you study the actual vote share data and see that there was no massive vote swing toward the Tories. As explained, there was a significant swing toward remain supporting parties instead. If Labour had supported the pro-Brexit stance, the party would have lost even more voters because they would have lost the middle ground as well as all the remainers. The Tories and the Brexit party, on the other hand, wouldn’t have lost hardly any Brexiteer votes to Labour because hard boiled Brexiteers wouldn’t have trusted Labour to deliver a hard Brexit.
Running a party or an election campaign based on people’s personal opinions rather than playing close attention to the data available is political suicide for any party and yet that’s exactly what the Labour party have been doing since 2001. Blair won the 2001 election but the party lost almost 3 million voters (2,810,733 to be precise). By 2010, they’d lost almost 5 million voters (4,941,854 in fact). The 2017 election under Corbyn’s leadership had actually clawed back 4,268,391 voters and this was after the Brexit referendum the year before. According to the leaked GLU report, instead of building on that success, the Labour right worked to sabotage the progress that had been made and yet, despite this and despite the battering the party took over the 2019 election being framed as the ‘Brexit ultimatum’ election, Labour still managed to hold onto 10,269,076 voters, which is more than they had in 2005, 2010 and 2015. If fact, it wasn’t far off what the party took in 2001 either (10,740,648).
If Corbyn was such an unpopular leader or if the manifesto promises were considered undeliverable then how did the party manage to hold onto more votes than 3 previous elections in-spite of internal efforts to sabotage the campaign and despite the media pushing the Brexit ultimatum down everyone’s throats, on a daily basis, running up to the 2019 election date?
Reviews like this are not an honest reflection of what actually happened, they are a record of history written by the victors and they are designed to persuade voters and party members that they are in the right and that they are justified in taking any actions they might plan to take next. Sadly, it’s now clear that the Blairite vanity project is back in charge and that they’ve decided to take a path back to slow oblivion for the Labour Party rather than look at the actual data.