If the party is going to survive it must pursue a broad coalition, not a socialist utopia
So, although more than 17 million people voted for parties that wanted a second referendum compared with fewer than 15 million who did not, on 31 January Britain will leave the EU on Boris Johnson’s terrible deal. What he presents as an irrefutable, unarguable validation of Brexit is in truth a democratic travesty. When Brexit goes wrong, as it will, there will be a reckoning – if a sufficiently viable opposition exists to force it.
Tactical voting had some successes, but so precipitate was the drop in the Labour vote and so resilient the Tory one that it was overwhelmed. Looking back, it is obvious that the Labour party should have joined the Remain alliance to avoid splitting the Remain vote, and its point-blank refusal to do so should not have been accepted so tamely.
How can we believe that a party wedded to deregulation and flirting with Trump’s America will ever govern for ‘one nation’?
The Chinese proverb is “be careful what you wish for”. My own adapted version is “be careful what you vote for”. I make no apology for having devoted so many columns to what on Thursday became the lost cause of Remain. The pro-European cause in this country has, alas, suffered from a colossal failure of leadership. The failure to make the case for our EU membership goes back a long way, as does the drip-drip of the vile anti-European campaign in the Murdoch press, and the obvious suspects in other sections of the media.
The sequence of events was well brought out in Denis MacShane’s prophetic book Brexit – How Britain Will Leave Europe in 2015. (What lies in store is outlined both in MacShane’s latest volume, Brexiternity, and Sir Ivan Rogers’s recent magisterial lecture at Glasgow University.) As MacShane wrote in 2015: “The referendum on Europe is not on the benefits or cost of EU membership, but a wider protest about economic and social change which appears inside Britain to produce as many losers as winners.”
From regional papers to national TV, fact checking has never been more important in speaking truth to power
In the maelstrom of debate about Boris Johnson’s victory, and amid the acrid “self-reflection” now facing Labour, it’s easy to lose sight of some of the wider issues raised by the election campaign. One of the most important, perhaps, is the relationship between journalism, politics and truth.
Cast your mind back to the days when the election still seemed to many, including pollsters, to be in the balance. Last Monday, in fact. The somewhat surreal day began with Johnson refusing to look at a photo of four-year-old Jack Williment-Barr lying on the floor of the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI), captured by the Yorkshire Post, continued with leading journalists promoting a false story about Labour activists punching a Tory adviser, and ended with a concerted fake news campaign on social media to show that the photo was in fact fake news. At the heart of all this lay fundamental issues about political scrutiny, journalistic ethics and the creation of news.
Six of the seven probable challengers are female, and all will be keen to connect with traditional party supporters
The battle to succeed Jeremy Corbyn and shape the future direction of the Labour party is under way as potential successors set out their leadership stalls for the first time, amid bitter recriminations after the party’s worst general election defeat since 1935.
Two of the likely candidates in what will be a 12-week contest that is expected to begin in January – Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy – break cover with articles in the Observer, expressing their anger and dismay at the party’s crushing defeat, and calling for a far-reaching post-mortem to ensure Labour reconnects with the millions of working people who rejected it.
Our polls were good at identifying the correct challenger in key seats. But voters needed more than a common enemy
In the end, fears of a Corbyn government and disdain for Jo Swinson’s election campaign combined to defeat tactical voting. Over the past four weeks, the Observerhas reported on constituency polls designed to assist voters wanting to oppose the Conservatives and stop Brexit. Last Sunday, we recommended candidates in 50 seats. Our results were not great. Non-Conservatives won only 13 of these seats; of these, nine were SNP gains in Scotland. In England, our preferred candidates triumphed in only four seats: Putney and Portsmouth South (Labour) and Richmond Park and St Albans (Liberal Democrat).
Why so few successes? It was not the fault of Deltapoll’s data. Almost everywhere, they identified the correct challenger. Most dramatically, they showed rightly that the Liberal Democrats were snapping at Dominic Raab’s heels, despite the foreign secretary’s apparently impregnable 23,000 majority.
Corbyn inspired America’s left in 2017. This defeat could hurt radical candidates
British voters’ ruthless rejection of Jeremy Corbyn and his radical socialist project reads like a cautionary tale for leftwing political leaders and parties in the US and Europe. Will Labour’s crushing defeat dim their ardour, or will they double down on revolution?
The general election outcome will embolden Democratic party critics of Bernie Sanders, a 2020 US presidential hopeful whose outlook has often been likened to Corbyn’s. Both men are veteran hard-left campaigners with strong appeal among younger, post-crash voters.
Jeremy Corbyn has accepted his personal responsibility for Labour’s general election defeat as he gave his fullest explanation to date for the catastrophic losses that helped return Boris Johnson to Downing Street.
Writing in the Observer, the Labour leader, who has announced he will step down when a successor is elected in the spring, describes the results as “desperately disappointing”.
We must now ensure that the working class, in all its diversity, is the driving force within our party
We are living in highly volatile times. Two-and-a-half years ago, in the first general election I contested as Labour leader, our party increased its share of the popular vote by 10 percentage points. On Thursday, on a desperately disappointing night, we fell back eight points.
I have called for a period of reflection in the party, and there is no shortage of things to consider. I don’t believe these two contrasting election results can be understood in isolation.
Labour can’t be defensive about where it went wrong. We need honest self-criticism, says the MP for Birmingham Yardley
The blame game isn’t particularly dignified and is self-indulgent. The average person on pretty much any street, either in Canterbury or Grimsby, cares very little for our soul-searching. They just want good schools, safe streets, a doctor’s appointment and for everyone to have enough. When you’re left on the floor of a hospital gasping for breath, or you can’t get your kid a school place, the simplest things are your idea of radical.
I decided early on in the campaign that I was going to try to help in the difficult seats of the Midlands and the north. We are not a red wall, we are not an angry mob, we are not your helpful TV buzzword, we are a delightfully varied bunch. I represent a Leave seat (60% Leave) and have never found it difficult to engage with my constituents on Brexit.
To represent the country, we must see it as it really is and protect and preserve what matters in towns and cities, north and south, Leave and Remain
We are all shattered. Thursday’s result may have been foreseeable but it was devastating both for Labour and for the people who rely on us. In the aftermath, attention is understandably turning to whether we ran the right campaign, found the right soundbite, had the right leader and if the media was to blame. But the truth is, Labour has been losing support in our northern towns and coalfield communities for decades. From Bolsover to Clacton, people who feel deeply that Labour is part of their DNA couldn’t bring themselves to vote for us.
The prime minister’s ideology may be hard to pin down, but when he talks about healing a divided country, it’s probably hot air
Boris Johnson has long been a familiar face in British politics, so why does his ideology remain, in the words of his role-model Winston Churchill, “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”? It’s a puzzle to which there are two, and possibly three solutions, none of which are necessarily mutually exclusive.
The first possibility – and probably the one that holds most sway, even among many of his admirers – is that when it comes to Johnson and his principles, there is, to borrow from Gertrude Stein, simply no “there” there. According to this take, the prime minister is no more and no less than an amalgam of ambition and ego. Having conquered the dizzy (and for him, anyway, increasingly well-remunerated) heights of broadsheet column-writing, Johnson simply turned to politics as a glutton turns to dessert.
Move is being considered by EU officials in face of Johnson not seeking extension beyond 11 months
EU leaders would take the initiative and request an extension to the transition period, keeping the UK under Brussels regulations beyond 2020, under a plan mooted for getting around Boris Johnson’s stated refusal to seek a delay.
The move is being considered by EU officials as a way out of the problem posed by the short time available to negotiate a new relationship and the prime minister’s insistence that he will not seek an extension beyond 11 months.
Scottish constituency reflects on SNP resurgence and ongoing battle for independence
East Dunbartonshire is where Miss Jean Brodie would have lived in her prime had Muriel Spark been a Glaswegian. Affluence is worn discreetly here in towns such as Milngavie and Bearsden. Residents of these areas would not have taken kindly to finding themselves on the front pages of Friday’s later editions, a position they secured by tipping Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader, from her seat. If she ever seeks re-election she may be asked to explain herself.
The diverse nature of the seat is likely a microcosm of Scotland’s larger economic aspirations and challenges. Between 2015 and 2017 Swinson, a locally-educated lass o’ pairts, has had it to herself. Her defeat, though not entirely unexpected, still came as a shock to those who had assumed her high national profile would be sufficient to see off a resurgent Scottish National party, which took 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats.
Labour said to have ‘dug its own grave’ with Corbyn as leader as social change mantra failed to cut through
“I feel excellent,” said David Cliffe as he strode across Peterborough’s Cathedral Square, having contributed to a thumping Conservative majority. “I didn’t want to have a communist regime,” said the 71-year-old retired warehouseman. “The country would have been on its knees.”
Cliffe, who was on his way to book his mother a Christmas holiday in Scarborough, could not stop beaming about Boris Johnson’s Conservative landslide, which he reckoned meant Brexit was all but done.
Growing calls for electoral reform after vote share per party is revealed
Green MPs elected in yesterday’s general election represented more than 850,000 votes while SNP MPs represented under 26,000, according to figures from the Electoral Reform Society.
Across Britain, it took...
?864,743 votes to elect 1 Green MP ?642,303 votes to elect 0 Brexit Party MPs ?334,122 votes to elect a Lib Dem ?50,817 votes for a Labour MP ?38,316 votes for a Plaid Cymru MP ?38,300 votes for a Con. MP ?25,882 votes for a SNP MP #ScrapFPTP
Labour insiders point to lack of strategic focus, leadership confusion, and say Corbyn had all but given up by the final week
As Jeremy Corbyn sped through Stroud in Labour’s battlebus on Monday, he was asked whether it had been hard to land a blow on serial liar Boris Johnson during the six-week election campaign. Screwing up his face in distaste at the pugilistic metaphor, he replied: “I’m not a boxer!”
He was much more comfortable reeling off a long list of constituencies he had visited in the past few days – something one close ally described as a “coping mechanism” – as a bruising campaign drew to a close.
John Harris and John Domokos finish their election road trip with a rain-sodden journey to Milton Keynes alongside enthusiastic young Labour activists, followed by a repeat visit to Stoke-on-Trent - where they watch the party's working class vote collapse, the endpoint of a story Anywhere But Westminster has been tracing for 10 years. But in among the electoral rubble, they find overlooked signs of a better future
Jo Swinson has apologised to the Liberal Democrats for a dismal election in which she lost her seat and the party slipped to 11 MPs, but said she did not regret fighting on a defiantly pro-remain platform.
Naming some of the MPs ejected as her party lost 10 of its pre-election tally of 21, including the Brexit spokesman, Tom Brake, and all the recent defectors from the Conservatives and Labour, Swinson said: “I’m so sorry I couldn’t get them re-elected.”
Prorogation is a formal mechanism to end a session of parliament. It means parliament’s sitting is suspended and it ends all current legislation under discussion. It is usual for this to happen every autumn. The current parliamentary session, which began in June 2017, is the longest in almost 400 years.