December 15, 2019

SO THE PROBLEM WAS EVERYTHING THE PARTY STOOD FOR?:

Why Labour lost - and how it can recover from an epic defeat (GEORGE EATON, 12/15/19, New Statesman)

At a Momentum activist training session I attended on 21 November, members were invited to "start shouting out the things that you're worried about coming up". The answers were swift: "Anti-Semitism, tactical voting for the Lib Dems in Tory areas, magic money tree, IRA, racism, position on Brexit, going backwards to the 1970s, high taxes. Momentum, people hate, people don't like Momentum. Immigration, Corbyn not being a leader, economic impact of a four-day week."

As I noted at the time, "successful political movements identify their vulnerabilities and work ruthlessly to neutralise them. But that Momentum activists can readily name so many perhaps augurs less well." 

Lynton Crosby, the former Conservative campaign manager, is fond of remarking that "you can't fatten a pig on market day". Political strength must be honed long in advance of an election, not during it. Labour entered the campaign with far too many weaknesses to ever have any hope of supplanting the Conservatives. 

Foremost among these was Jeremy Corbyn's unpopularity - the worst ratings of any opposition leader in polling history (a net rating of -60 in an Ipsos MORI survey). In an increasingly presidential system, leaders matter. A post-election Opinium survey found that 43 per cent of those who did not vote Labour cited its leadership, compared to 17 per cent for its stance on Brexit and 12 per cent for its economic policies. 

Corbyn's unpopularity had many facets: he was never trusted to manage national security (his response to the Salisbury poisoning did particular damage) or the economy, and even polled behind Johnson on public services. He presided over a permanently divided party, many of whose MPs never regarded him as fit to be prime minister, the scandal of anti-Semitism wounded his claim to moral authority, and his equivocation on Brexit undermined his promise of "straight-talking, honest politics".

Labour was vulnerable to exactly the extent it has abandoned the Thatcher/Blair Third Way.

Posted by at December 15, 2019 10:00 AM

  

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