Taking stock – a wider selection

In the aftermath of the General Election we said we would post a selected handful of the interesting/insightful analyses now pouring out on all sides, to help us stand back and take stock.

Here are a further five articles – by Gary Younge, Roger Silverman, Mike Cushman, Aditya Chakrabortty and George Monbiot.

The one thing shared by all is well-summed up in the standfirst to Younge’s contribution: “It’s not enough to blame Jeremy Corbyn, Brexit or the media. The picture is far more complex than that.”

Roger Silverman, while acknowledging the disaster, shows clearly that the “repeated description of it as ‘Labour’s worst result since 1935’ is simply yet another outright lie”.

For Mike Cushman “a question that should be asked is why the London working class and that, I believe, of the big northern cities still kept their faith in Labour while those elsewhere did not?”

Aditya Chakrabortty writes about how Labour took much of the north, the Midlands and Wales as its birthright, losing touch with its base in the process. It has an urgent task of rebuilding.

And George Monbiot, acknowledging the darkness, says “This is no time for recrimination and blame – let’s work together against this visionless government.”

 


Labour won’t win again until it works out why it lost

It’s not enough to blame Jeremy Corbyn, Brexit or the media. The picture is far more complex than that

This changes everything. The fourth national vote in four years has broken the parliamentary logjam with devastating effect. It was a rout. Labour’s vote in its traditional strongholds finally collapsed. The demographic, geographic and social ties that bound its coalition together have unravelled. We have yet to see if they can be put back together again. Britain has elected the most rightwing government for decades, handing the least principled leader in living memory such a massive majority that it could take a decade to get rid of him. Last night was bad. The worst is yet to come.

The left must now find the space to grieve and think simultaneously. Because it’s not about us. It’s about the more hopeful society we want to create, the people we want to create it with, and the dystopia that the Tories are in the process of creating. And we won’t be in a position to win again until we work out why we lost. The easiest answers here are also the least adequate. To blame it all on Jeremy Corbyn, Brexit, the media, the manifesto or a failure of tactical voting is to deny a bigger, more complex picture. Of course Brexit played a significant role. Labour had three years to come up with a coherent offer to counter Tory bluster and failed. Given that its biggest losses were in leave areas, the notion that it should have cast itself as an unequivocal party of remain and a second referendum makes no sense. That certainly didn’t do the Liberal Democrats any good.

Labour knew Brexit would dominate and aimed to shift the conversation to public services and the environment. It failed there too. The problem was not the manifesto. Labour’s plans for nationalisation, public spending and wealth redistribution were popular, achievable, and would not have left Britain in a radically different place from many other European nations. But if you’re going to promise something that ambitious, you have to first of all prepare people politically for it and then reassure them you can actually do it. Labour did neither effectively, instead promising more things each day, displaying a lack of message discipline that felt like a metaphor for potential lack of fiscal discipline.

Corbyn was deeply unpopular. On the doorstep most couldn’t really say why they didn’t like him. They just didn’t. Some either thought he was too leftwing, antisemitic or the friend of terrorists. Obviously the media, which did not come out of this election well at all, have a lot to do with that. How could you like someone when you never hear anything good about them? The rightwing-dominated press too often framed the narratives for television and radio, which fed them back on a loop that could be broken only by events.

But they did not invent it all. Corbyn was a poor performer. Time and again he had chances to nail Boris Johnson for his lies and duplicity, but he refused to do so. He’d say it’s not his style. But his style wasn’t working. His refusal to apologise to the Jewish community for antisemitism when interviewed by Andrew Neil was baffling, not least because he had apologised several times before – and did so again afterwards with Phillip Schofield. And the media are not going anywhere soon. They attacked Gordon Brown, Edward Miliband and Neil Kinnock too – though never as ferociously – and whoever runs the party next will have to deal with them.

Those who think that Labour’s leftward shift was just about Corbyn frankly never understood it. Corbyn was simply the unlikely, unprepared and in many ways inadequate vessel for a political moment that is not yet over. He emerged in the wake of wars and at a time of austerity when social democratic parties across the western world were failing and flailing. His election did not produce the crisis in the Labour party; it was the product of it, and this election result has now exacerbated it. His strong performance in 2017 is why we are not further down the Brexit path already, and why the Tories have promised to increase public spending and effectively end austerity.

There are ways of contextualising this result that could provide solace in a moment of despair. Labour, under Corbyn, won a higher vote share than both Miliband and Brown. He lost fewer seats than Brown and has more than the Tories did in 2005, from which they bounced back to form a coalition government in 2010. Such rationalisations should be avoided. We lost, and lost badly. Self–criticism does not come easy from a defensive crouch. In the words of the great African American writer and activist WEB Du Bois: “Our worst side has been so shamelessly emphasised that we are denying we have or ever had a worst side. In all sorts of ways we are hemmed in.”

Corbyn is right to announce his departure. His decision to stay and lead a discussion about the future of the party makes no sense. He cannot lead a conversation that is in no small part about him. His presence will be a diversion from the task at hand. The left should not fetishise this position. It matters who runs the Labour party, but it’s not the only thing that matters. For the past four years nearly all of the left’s energy has been poured into defending it. Given Johnson’s majority, many of the key struggles to come will take place outside parliament.

Corbyn’s departure creates a problem for centrists. They have been predicting this moment since before he was elected leader. When events failed to comply – when the party reelected him with a greater majority or the country gave him more seats and votes – they waited for the next event. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. The trouble is, with him leaving they will now have to produce an agenda and a candidate of their own, and then offer those up to a party that has grown in size, even if it is momentarily diminished in confidence.

They will have to face the fact that the electorate did not abandon Labour for the centre. They went either to the far right, in England and Wales, or to the social democratic nationalist alternative, in Scotland. They did not go to the Liberal Democrats or back Change UK. Chuka Umunna, Dominic Grieve, David Gauke, Anna Soubry, Jo Swinson and Luciana Berger all lost.

I did not hear a single voter ask about Owen Smith or pine for Yvette Cooper. Whatever comes next, it won’t be a return to abstaining on the welfare bill or backing the hostile environment policy. They will want Labour to be more effective in opposition, but they will want it to mount an opposition.

The centrists will have to face the fact that the thousands of people who travelled the country during these past few weeks to canvass in the cold and rain are not about to abandon their ideals or the party. And those who invested so heavily in this particular iteration of Labour will have to face the fact that their conviction alone was not enough to convince others of their ideals.

Gary Younge is a Guardian columnist
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This is no time for glib slogans

Roger Silverman, Facebook, 13 Dec

This is no time for glib slogans. This is a serious defeat; a disaster. It clears the way for the most brutal Tory attacks yet seen on our living standards and our democratic rights. It will destroy the last remaining vestiges of the welfare state established 75 years ago. It will at least for a period demoralise a generation of youth desperate for the chance of a future. And it puts at risk the huge advances made in the last four years towards the reconquest of the Labour Party as the party of the working class and the 99%.

In a lesser-known story by Lewis Carroll, there is a scene where the masses are rioting in the streets demanding: “Less Bread! More Taxes!”. In Victorian England, that was a piece of playful nonsense fantasy, along with the Cheshire Cat’s grin or the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. In 21st century Britain, the population have actually in real life elected a grotesque pantomime prime minister who could easily have walked straight out of Alice In Wonderland, promising exactly that very programme.

But let’s cut straight through the fog of misinformation and put this result in context. Just as the media lied outrageously and shamelessly throughout the campaign, displaying blatant bias, so still now they are lying through their teeth in their reporting of this result. Yes, this is a bad result for Labour. But their repeated description of it as “Labour’s worst result since 1935” is simply yet another outright lie. In terms of the total number of votes won, this is Labour’s second best result out of the last five general elections, winning 10.3 million votes, compared to 9.5 million in 2005, 8.6 million in 2010, 9.35 million in 2015, and 12.9 million in 2017. Even in terms of percentages, Labour’s result this time, at 32.2%, is not as bad as in 2010 (29%) or 2015 (30.4%). So the unremitting poisonous filth of the media in discrediting Corbyn haws continued beyond the election campaign. The truth is that under his leadership, Labour has twice in two successive elections won more than ten million votes – something that Blair failed to achieve in 2005, Brown in 2010, or Miliband in 2015.

What are the prospects for a Johnson government? This vain, pompous, lazy, incompetent, arrogant, racist buffoon and puppet of the billionaires will prove hopelessly incompetent in coping with the multiple catastrophes lying ahead for the British ruling class: the economic consequences of a “hard Brexit”, the onset of a new recession on the scale of 2008, the near-certain secession of Scotland, the very probable reunification of Ireland, even the possible collapse of the monarchy, the rapid diminution of England into a cheap offshore-island tax haven.

There will be plenty of opportunity to deal more deeply with these issues. Meanwhile, we can be sure that the mass of the population will not stay tame or silent: the pauperized zero-hours workers, the cash-starved pensioners and disabled, the migrants and the unemployed, the homeless and the hungry, above all the youth robbed of a future.

Under a Johnson parliamentary dictatorship, years of volatility, conflict and crisis lie ahead, erupting in an explosion of protest which could well bring it crashing to its downfall. In countries around the world, from Europe to Africa, the Middle East to Latin America, tens of thousands are marching on the streets, braving police bullets and in many cases overthrowing their oppressors. Britain is plunging into the turmoil that is already gripping at least thirty countries throughout the rest of the world. Let Boris Johnson chortle in his moment of glory while he can. He least of all will be equipped to withstand the era of revolution and resistance that is sweeping the world.

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Some thoughts in the wake of Thursday’s disaster

Mike Cushman, Facebook

Beware of simple narratives

Among many stories that are being told about our tragic defeat on Thursday is that ‘Labour has deserted the working class in favour of the “metropolitan London elite”’.

It’s possible that I belong to the ill-defined MLE but I live in Brixton and did my canvassing on Brixton’s working class estates as well as the more affluent roads that surround them. It was clear from my experience that the residents of the estates, even if they had reservations about Corbyn personally, were enthusiastically supporting Labour. It was the middle class remain voters who were peeling away to the Liberal Democrats. Commentators, both from the North and from the London suburbs, have forgotten that London, and especially inner London, is still an overwhelmingly working class city and in many parts a very poor working class city. Labour’s successful defence of its London red citadel was a working class defence, supplemented by young voters who have migrated to London and surviving, or not, on precarious contracts and living in insecure private rented accommodation.

So, a question that should be asked is why the London working class and that, I believe, of the big northern cities still kept their faith in Labour while those elsewhere did not? Labour had a programme that appealed to many working class and impoverished voters but not those whose lives were discarded by both New Labour and the Tories in their pursuit of neo-Liberal ultra-marketised economics.

The economic story is complicated but here some elements of it but not a conclusion. London lost its manufacturing industry earlier than most. The history of London as a manufacturing centre with highly skilled engineering workers has been forgotten. The factory estates of west London where I grew up and all across the capital are now a wasteland of fulfilment centres, filled with unfulfilling jobs and mega-stores selling consumerism and a depleted planet. Leeds and Manchester wen through a similar process but later. Economic geographers have theories about why size is important to economic survival but if you are in Grimsby or Crewe then Brexit appears to offer hope, even if I think it will be a hope betrayed. Labour’s Green New Deal offered a sustainable hope but we lost the ability to talk about it confidently, submerged in a repeated Tory and media message of Brexit or nothing.

Race and familiarity and comfort with diversity are another part of the story. The white and black working class have experiences that are both importantly similar and importantly different. The atomisation of work and the loss of trade union membership have eroded the bedrock of collective endeavour that underlay both Labour as an organised force and socialism as a vison. Trae Unions at their worst were a vehicle for organised racism and exclusion; at their best they unite people of diverse backgrounds in a common enterprise of joint protection and improvement.

The loss of union confidence and, in many former manufacturing and mining towns, basic organisation opened the way to promotion of ‘Brussels’ as the source of all problems as no local solutions seemed possible. And if Brussels was e problem then de-Brusselfication was the answer. An answer that overlooked the history of successive UK Governments using the EU as a route to impose the damaging policies that wished to inflict while evading taking responsibility. Too often the story was designed in Washington; manufactured in London; packaged in Brussels. Brexit misidentified the monkey as the organ-grinder.

It’s not complex, it’s more complicated than that.

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This Labour meltdown has been building for decades

Aditya Chakrabortty, the Guardian, 14 Dec

The party has no God-given right to expect votes, let alone to govern. It needs to renew its contract with its base

On the really painful days in politics, most commentary isn’t worth the name. It’s not analysis, it’s score-settling; party political broadcasts for the I-told-you-so brigade, rushed out by people who won’t admit to ever getting a single thing wrong themselves.

So it will go this weekend. You’ll read that Labour’s wipeout was only down to Brexit, by those who won’t admit a flaw in Jeremy Corbyn and his noodling mess of a campaign. Or that it was all the Labour leader’s fault, said by remainers who have seen the position they urged on him blown to bits. It was both, of course. Ask voters in those seats that have just gone blue for the first time since the 1930s, or the Labour would-bes who tried canvassing them. If you want to play election Cluedo, then Corbyn and Brexit go together like Colonel Mustard with the candlestick. But when a party descends into civil war, the factions at each others’ throats rarely bother looking up at the rest of the country.

To clear the decks, here’s my confession. I never foresaw the scale of this wipeout – and what it spells for our already failing economy, fractured society and battered democracy frankly scares me. Yet the reporting I’ve done – both in this election and before – made me almost sure Labour was going to lose, and in precisely those areas that are all over the front pages. What were called its heartlands, at least until Thursday night. The Bolsovers, the Bishop Aucklands. The un-metropolitan, unfashionable, never-kissed-a-Tory land that would, as the old saw goes, elect a donkey if it wore a red rosette.

And I can say with certainty that this week’s meltdown is the culmination of trends that stretch back decades. They were Corbyn’s poisoned inheritance, not his creation – but any leader who wants to win back those seats will have to deal with them better than he managed.

For decades, their party took much of the north, the Midlands and Wales as its birthright. It was the “red wall” that would repel invading Tory forces. As one Labour county councillor in Derbyshire, the region that lost Dennis Skinner as an MP on Thursday night, told me: “They barely bothered to campaign.” While the party bigwigs threw their weight about, the mines and the manufacturers, the steel and the shipbuilding were snuffed out. With them went the culture of Labourism: the bolshy union stewards, the self-organised societies, most of the local newspapers. Practically any institution that might incubate a working-class provincial political identity was bulldozed.

In North East Derbyshire last month, I saw up close what was left: warehouses and care work. Bullying bosses, zero-hours contracts, poverty pay and social security top-ups. Smartphones to tell you whether you have a shift that morning, and Facebook to give you the news, or some dishonest fragment of it. Across the UK, mines were turned into museums, factories swapped for call centres, meaningful local government replaced by development quangos.

And what was Labour’s response? Tony Blair and Gordon Brown pretended some new skills-based economy lay around the corner and parachuted their own chosen people into these safe seats. Thinktankers, union HQ bureaucrats, ex-student politicians: all found careers and weekend homes for themselves.

David Miliband swung from the Institute for Public Policy Research to Blair’s office to MP for South Shields, – which, as a longstanding Labour parliamentarian told me yesterday morning, “he couldn’t even find on a map”. Last week Miliband claimed on Twitter: “The biggest Labour challenge is not the angst of the middle class … it is the disbelief of the working class.” This tribune of the Tyneside proletariat now works 3,000 miles away at a New York-based charity that in 2017 reportedly paid him £680,000.

What did such smooth-cheeked careerists offer their constituents? Head pats about the “white working class” and their “legitimate concerns”. Never mind that the working class might also be brown.

Even as the working class were marginalised politically and destroyed economically, New Labour patronised them into apathy. As the Oxford political scientists James Tilley and Geoffrey Evans argue, the “decline of class-based voting was driven by Labour’s shift to the political centre ground”. Meanwhile, the big gap in the electoral market that opened up was for a party offering a welfare state with reactionary social policy. That was Nigel Farage; now it’s Boris Johnson. What won on Thursday night wasn’t Conservatism: it was Faragism. The Tories’ key personnel come from Vote Leave and, just as in that campaign, are happy to play with racism. Some in Labour might well think they can win back seats by beating up on immigrants and tacking to the right: Johnson’s party can do both with far more gusto.

Corbynism began with promises of democracy, but ended up as bunkerised as all other Labour leaderships. What started as anti-austerity movement is now a melange of ideas, most of which look and sound utterly absurd on a doorstep on a rainy morning.

In the era of taking back control, Corbyn offered yet more direction from Westminster, with utilities run from the centre and hundreds of billions disbursed from remote state institutions. Many of these ideas are interesting, but few of them were properly worked through and none patiently argued for.

Giving workers stakes in firms, a green new deal, free broadband: each one came well-intentioned but bedecked in question marks. Any radicalism that fails to ask the really thorny questions isn’t radical at all. In Britain in 2019, those include: against rampant inequality and climate change, what’s the economy for? What do the public actually want from politics and economics?

In the 2017 election I wrote that a party that grew out of social institutions needed to turn itself into a social institution in precisely those areas it historically took for granted. That remains the key task: providing advice to those whose benefits are being slashed, legal support to tenants under the cosh from their landlords, haggling with the utilities to provide cheaper and better deals. Add to that: teaching political and economic literacy to voters, not just activists, and consulting constituents on what issues Labour should be battling on.

None of this is as easy as getting the woman with the great backstory to run No 11, or some GCSE marketing talk about finding new “narratives”. It’s hard graft, and it won’t make good copy. But Labour has no God-given right to expect votes, let alone to govern. It needs to renew its contract with its base. The big question is whether it wants to.

Aditya Chakrabortty is a Guardian columnist

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Out of this darkness we must find the will to fight back

George Monbiot, the Guardian, 13 Dec

This is no time for recrimination and blame – let’s work together against this visionless government

Yes, it’s dark. Darker, arguably, than at any point since the second world war. We have a government not of conservatives but of the radical right, who will now seek to smash the remaining restraints on capital and those who accumulate it. They will take their sledgehammers to our public services and our public protections. They cheated and lied to assist their victory; they will cheat and lie even more to implement their programme.

They are led by a man who has expressed overtly racist views, who won’t hesitate to stir up bigotry and xenophobia whenever he runs into trouble, scapegoating immigrants, Muslims, Romany Gypsies and Travellers, the poor and the weak. They will revel in outrage and affront, using every attack on common decency to normalise the unacceptable. This government has no vision for the country, only a vision for the oligarchs to whom it is bound, onshore and offshore.

So I don’t want to minimise the scale and horror of what we face. But documenting it is one task; the other is resisting it. Here, roughly and briefly, is an outline of how we might begin. I am as tired and shocked and frazzled as you are, so please forgive me if I have missed some essential elements.

First, we must park the recriminations and blame. We need to be fully occupied fighting the government and its backers, not fighting each other. Solidarity is going to be crucial over the coming months. We should seek, wherever possible, to put loyalty to party and faction aside, and work on common resolutions to a crisis afflicting everyone who wants a kinder, fairer, greener nation.

All the progressive manifestos I’ve read – Labour, Green, SNP, Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru – contain some excellent proposals. Let’s extract the best of them, and ideas from many other sources, and build an alliance around them. There will be differences, of course. But there will also be positions that almost everyone who believes in justice can accept.

I believe we need to knit these proposals into the crucial missing element in modern progressive politics: a restoration story

I believe we need to knit these proposals into the crucial missing element in modern progressive politics: a restoration story. A powerful new narrative is the vehicle for all political transformations. While all the progressive parties in the UK have proposed good policies, none of them have told a story that exactly fits the successful narrative template. Let’s work together to craft the story of change.

We should use the new story, and the proposals this narrative vehicle carries, to build mass resistance movements, taking inspiration from – and building on – highly effective mobilisations such as the youth climate strikes. We will draw strength from the movements in other nations, and support them in turn.

A major part of this resistance, I believe, must be the reclamation of a culture of public learning. Acquiring useful knowledge requires determined study. Yet we have lost the habit of rigorous learning in adulthood, once seen as crucial to social justice. This makes us vulnerable to every charlatan who stands for election, and every lie they amplify through the billionaire press and social media.

Those who govern us would love to keep us in ignorance. When they deride “elites”, they don’t mean people like themselves – the rich and powerful. They mean teachers and intellectuals. They are creating an anti-intellectual culture, to make people easier to manipulate. Let’s reinvigorate the workers’ education movements. Let’s restore a rich public culture of intellectual self-improvement, open to everyone. Knowledge is the most powerful tool in politics.

We must expose every lie, every trick this government will play, using social media as effectively as possible. We must use every available tool to investigate its financial relationships, interests and strategies. We should use the courts to sue and prosecute malfeasance whenever we can.

But while all this is happening, more and more people will fall through the cracks. I recognise that charity is no substitute for justice, and we can never fully compensate for the failures of the state. Even so, we must enhance the support and giving networks for the people this government will neglect or attack. No one should have to face the coming onslaught alone.

We will create, to the greatest extent possible, a resistance economy. This means local cooperative networks of mutual support, which circulate social and material wealth within the community. The astonishing work of Participatory City, with Barking and Dagenham council in London, shows us one way of doing this.

We will find each other and ourselves through volunteering, which provides the most powerful known defence against loneliness and alienation, helps support the people this government will abandon, and can defend and rebuild the living world.

We will throw everything we have into defending our public services – especially the NHS – from the government’s attempts to degrade or destroy them. There will be many public service failures over the coming years, as a result of cuts and “restructuring”. Let’s remember where blame for these failures will lie: not with the massively stressed and overloaded practitioners, but with those who made their jobs impossible. The long-standing strategy of governments such as this is to degrade these services until we become exasperated with them, whereupon, lacking public support, they can be broken up and privatised. Don’t fall for it. Defend the overworked heroes who keep them afloat.

No one person should attempt all these things. We will divide up the tasks, but always in the knowledge that we’re working together, with mutual support through the darkest of times. Love and courage to you all.
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Comments (10)

  • Carol Ackroyd says:

    We need to address the impact of Labour councils which have had to impose and manage massive funding cuts, often through outsourcing with a dire impact on staff wages and conditions. Too often these authorities have prided themselves publicly on efficiency and lied about ‘preserving front line services’, denying what has been obvious – huge reductions in local services. These labour councillors have mostly not used their political voice to speak out constantly against Tory cuts. Small wonder Labour has lost the backing of millions of family carers and more. (This effect has been very obvious to those of us campaigning around NHS and social care).

  • Frank Land says:

    For us in our 90s there is another dimension to the result – we had hoped that in the last years of our life we would see a progressive Government in the UK, rolling back the harm of years of Tory misrule and building a society fit for the generations following us, Instead we are faced not only by a Boris Johnson administration so well described above, but a period of Labour Party infighting every part of which will be amplified by the press.

  • Speaking as a 69 year old I note with shame that my generation caused this, and we should have known better. Had the votes of the 18 – 45 year olds alone been those counted Labour would have enjoyed a massive landslide. The damage was done by over 65 year olds …………… those who endured the horrors of Thatcherism and now inflict even worse times on us. May the young forgive us

  • Allan Howard says:

    When I kept hearing and reading that the result was the worst for Labour since 1935, I instinctively thought in the back of my mind that it was yet another lie, another falsehood, being disseminated by those that have been vilifying and demonising Jeremy Corbyn and the left for the past four years, and are now busy banging the nails in the coffin so that the left can never rise again.

    I was in fact intending to do a web search to verify whether it WAS a falsehood, as I suspected it was, but hadn’t got round to it just yet AND then came across the latest notification from JVL in my mailbox and, as such, ended up reading the above articles AND what Roger Silverman says about it. I know I’ve heard it mentioned in the MSM several times during the past couple of days, and now – having inadvertently established that it IS a falsehood (concocted and contrived for the obvious reason) – I’m going to try and determine how widely it was being dissembled across the MSM………

    I thought I would just do a quick web search re ‘worst result for labour since 1935’ to see what came up, and there are dozens of blogs AND most of the MSM repeating the lie, and most of them have it in quotation marks (but I doubt I’ll find any mention of WHO they are supposedly quoting in the articles when I get round to reading each of them!).

    There is much to digest in the articles above (apart from George’s article which speaks for itself), but the fact that in the poll/survey that the authors of Bad News For Labour commissioned found that, on average, participants believed that 34% of Labour Party members had been reported for anti-semitism is testament to the power of the corporate MSM and the semi-corporate BBC AND how effective their smear campaign op has been (and I can only speculate that had such a question been asked just prior to the 2017 GE, the average would have been far, far less, but I have no doubt that it WOULD have been). The result in 2017 no doubt shocked ‘them’ into re-doubling their ‘efforts’!

    Yes, we must live in hope, for where there is no hope there is only despair, and many years ago I went to that place for a while, and I never want to go there again. BUT, the following excerpt from a Jonathan Cook article posted on Friday is the reality (and all we can do is reveal the falsehoods to the millions who have been duped and deceived AND expose the Deceivers for what they do, and what they have done):

    We on the left didn’t lose this election. We lost our last illusions. The system is rigged – as it always has been – to benefit those in power. It will never willingly allow a real socialist, or any politician deeply committed to the health of society and the planet, to take power away from the corporate class. That, after all, is the very definition of power. That is what the corporate media is there to uphold.

    https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2019-12-13/corbyns-defeat-slayed-the-lefts-last-illusion/

  • John C says:

    Following the age theme here, the Labour Party must look now to its young members and potential members. The Party is held in the grip of people who are now too old to look forward to 2029. Not just Corbyn and McDonnell, but the sexagenarians who refuse to let go their grip on local branch leadership positions. The young must be given positions of leadership and the freedom now to make their own mistakes. And the old, if they insist on staying around, must listen to the young (but also talk to them, because they do have an awful lot to learn, and they are so desperate to do so). (I am 63).

  • Leah says:

    A lot of snarky Guardian writers kicking sideways at Corbyn, even if it does includes a JVL voice. I hope JVL will avoid joining in, not just reprint stuff uncritically, even if we do feel tired & gutted.

  • John Webster says:

    As soon as the election was announced I knew we would lose and made sure people knew what I had predicted. Brexit was trap set by Johnson and Cummings which we were dragged into. The slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’ DID cut through. Those that had voted for Brexikt were livid that it hadn’t happened. Trying to get the debate onto ‘what kind of Brexit’ was hard – and I can understand the fudge that was finally adopted. The Lib Dems were the main culprits in forcing an election and they have paid for it, but the Scots Nats knew what they were doing and while they have won many seats they will find that without Labour they have no where to go with the kind of majority the Tories have. Corbyn (who I am a greart supporter of ) was unpopular on the doorstep because he was portrayed by the right wing press as a friend to terrorists. It stuck. The pro-Israel lobby also predictably put the boot in. My one criticism of Corbyn was his response to the antisemitism jibes. All he had to say was ‘Antisemitism is a scourge BUT criticising Israel is not antisemitic’. And if people then asked for examples of criticism talk about Gaza, and the settlements and continued ethnic cleansing. I think Jeremy Corbyn and his advisers owe us an explanation: why didn’t you fight back over allegations of antisemitism? The ‘existential threat’ to Jews parroted across the press SHOULD have been exposed as ‘the existential threat’ to Israel. Voters would have said ‘what has this got to do with us?’ Then we could tell them that it is the pro-Israel lobby that has made it an issue.

  • J Smith says:

    In terms of seats it is labours worst result since 1935 and surely seats held is the most important result of an election?

  • Allan Howard says:

    John: Do you mean stand in the street and fight back, or did you think the very media – the corporate media and the semi-corporate BBC – who have conspired in the Smear Campaign op from the outset were going to give him the opportunity to expose the very falsehoods that they have been disseminating.

    Look what happened to Ken Livingstone each and every time he tried to explain that he was alluding to an historical fact when he said that Hitler was supporting Zionism….. He was just vilified and condemned again for repeating his ‘vile, antisemitic nonsense’, or words to that effect, or when the LP condemned the Panorama program, and were vilified for attacking the ‘brave, courageous whistle-blowers’ etc, etc.

    That’s WHY he/they didn’t ‘fight back’, because it’s self-defeating and just invites more condemnation and demonisation.

  • Richard Hayward says:

    Beyond the other particular ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’, the most disturbing feature of this debacle is the way the media are in total cynical denial – across the board.

    At least George Monbiot has realised the sinister nature of the propaganda campaign, but it is striking that two journalists who are well above the level of the average hack – Aditya Chakrabortty and Gary Younge are peddling the antisemitism myth as a taken-for-granted narrative, rather than the weaponised propaganda tool that it is.

    And that is but one strand of the propaganda stream – well evidenced by hard research.

    The degree of brain-washing in this country is worthy of any totalitarian state. There is almost no self-examination at all in the media that was so instrumental in distorting the electoral process through a drum-beat of lies, fabrications and distortions.

    Yes – like most aware citizens, I am dismayed at Thursday’s result. But beyond that, I am horrified and ashamed at what this country – always subject to a right wing establishment narrative – has now become as it sheds the tattered remnants of a proper democracy.

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