Positivity is an unusual mentality in the wake of a defeat, but that very sentiment surrounds the Labour Party now. Following the autopsy of Theresa May’s risky ‘snap election’, in a way this was very much an election to be expected. We expected the Conservatives to come away with the most seats. We expected the UKIP vote to fall to pieces. We expected Theresa May to remain prime minister. What we didn’t expect however, was for both the electorate and the Labour party to make a mockery of Theresa May by eradicating her majority, ultimately deepening the mess that the Tories have found themselves in since the dawn of Brexit.
From the beginning, I always found predictions of a Tory landslide to be naive. However, there were certainly eyebrows raised amongst even the most optimistic of Labour voters when the exit poll predicted significant gains for Labour and a failed gamble by the conservatives.
The gains of Battersea and Canterbury reflected the power that the message of hope and change in the Labour manifesto was reaching to all kinds of voters across the nation. Perhaps the biggest surprise on a personal level was to see a Labour MP return to my home county of Suffolk, a result that summarised the impressive and above par performance of the party nationwide. Regardless of the final outcome in terms of forming a government, the once cruising Conservative party has been clearly left deeply shaken.
But enough on the June election as a whole, and more about what position the Labour party holds moving forward. Ultimately Jeremy Corbyn deserves a huge amount of credit for securing the party. Having been subjected to one of the most vicious media smear campaigns I’ve ever seen, as well as consistent backstabbing from some of the less principled and more selfish members of his own party, he has certainly silenced a large number of the neutrals who were questioning his credibility.
So just how has a man who has been subjected to so much political negativity been able to surprise people with his party’s electoral performance? Simple, he stuck to his principles and never moved an inch. That is why he has won the respect of the nation, as well as Labour’s largest number of votes in sixteen years. If that isn’t a reason for positivity in defeat, then I don’t know what is.
It is far too early to know whether Jeremy Corbyn will still be the leader of the Labour party by the time the next elections rolls around in 2022, but given the fact that he will be 73 by then, it appears quite unlikely. Regardless of who does take charge for that challenge, the political character of Jeremy Corbyn embodies the crucial components that the Labour party had been missing since the fall of Blairism. People have become fed up with centrist, watered down, Blairite Labour. Most recently, Ed Miliband represented something of an attempted compromise between the centre and the left of the party.
Labour members and the general public have been crying out for an actual alternative, to the point where they have also become fed up with constant attacks against Corbyn by the very MPs who have failed to inspire the public in the way that Corbyn has. This is a socialist Labour victory, this is a true alternative, this is the wish of the members of the party.
If some of the watered down Blairites in the party had respected him in the past couple of years as they do this morning following his electoral determination, the Labour party could well be in government right now. Therefore, whilst there is great satisfaction with Labour’s step in the right direction, there is also a regretful sense of disappointment and a ‘what if’ aimed at those MPs who were too selfish to back Corbyn as he had once backed them. On the topic of Blairism though, it is good for both the party and future elections to see that this rather apologetic ideology appears to be dead and buried in conjunction with the Labour party now returning to some of its true leftist principles. The more cynical analysts note how history often goes round in cycles and will therefore see Blairism rise again. However, whilst in the distant future a Labour leader may return to wear that soulless shell of an ideology, the ascendancy of the left gives me much comfort in knowing that such a move won’t be happening anytime soon.
Overall, when moving forward the Labour party can be proud of the direction that it is going in. Of course, a defeat is a defeat, but nobody really believed they could ever threaten Tory legitimacy, let alone rattle and undermine them in the manner that they did. The party’s goal now is simply to maintain their support from the youth as well as the thousands of isolated people who were finally given a voice by Corbyn’s honest and forward thinking brand of politics. When looking at Labour under Corbyn’s reign, the facts tell us that the number of seats has significantly increased, a new generation has become politically engaged and aware, and above all else, a socialist framework has been established. This framework gives many social groups pride in standing up for their beliefs whilst giving the people of Britain a principled, modern, and true alternative in the current political landscape.
Positivity is indeed an unusual feeling following electoral defeat, but with all these factors in consideration, the positivity of the left shall only continue to grow, rather than dissipate towards the centre.