Labour’s dreadful local election performance is the clearest possible public verdict on Corbyn

by Rob Marchant

Facing the most incompetent, divided, rudderless and risible Tory government in living memory, Labour has somehow managed to go backwards in the local elections.

It’s unprecedented and entirely a judgement on the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

This isn’t a bolt from the blue, Labour’s slide has been entirely predictable and, unchecked, catastrophe beckons at the next general election.

Fast-forward to 2022, the projected next general election: Jeremy Corbyn, safe in his position as leader, has been leader of the Labour Party for seven years.

With regard to tenure, that will put him as the seventh longest-serving leader in the party’s century-long history. MacDonald, Attlee, Gaitskell, Wilson, Kinnock, Blair and Corbyn. That is the peer group: all party leaders for more than one term.

While some might reasonably quibble about MacDonald, the first six are undoubtedly heavyweight, historical names. And party leaders with that kind of tenure are, clearly, the ones with the best chance of shaping their party in their image.

Jeremy Corbyn already has.

In three-and-a-half years – he is currently at the rough midway-point of those seven years – he has reduced his party to one riddled with, and about to be formally investigated for, anti-Semitism; and provided a nonsensically equivocal position on Brexit, as a result shoring up what many have reasonably come to think of as the worst government in history.

The disastrous term of Michael Foot, an essentially decent man, was only a little longer than Corbyn has been there already, and it still took another decade to recover the party back to power. Further, as many have written, the recovery conditions were demonstrably better in 1983 than now.

What would the current leader do with three-and-a-half more years? It is not difficult to see: more of the same And that is not all: on the current trajectory, he is also fairly likely to be succeeded by another Corbynite, so the real tenure of Corbynism in the leadership may even be longer.

The direction of travel is relentlessly unidirectional: at time of writing, there is no visible shift in the leadership´s stance on the two major issues confronting the party and, at this midway point, there is no reason to believe there will be. Control of the NEC is complete: the membership is overwhelmingly pro-Corbyn.

Today’s dreadful local election results, and the likely terrible European election results will be waived away by true believers for whom ideological purity matters more than power. But by 2022, the party will surely be on its knees, and that is if it even still exists as a major electoral force.

At this point, Labour MPs, there is a choice: to vocally resist at every turn, or to accept the frog-boiling logic of Corbynite Labour. Of claiming we can all be friends and it will blow over. It won’t. Or wrongly celebrating minor negotiating gains as when, earlier this week, some usually-sensible moderates were claiming a Pyrrhic victory at the NEC over a People´s Vote.

No moderate victory was won on Tuesday. The far left won: any other reading is denial.

There is still a chance, like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, to change the future. But it is receding. And it requires a seismic shift from the current stance of the Parliamentary Labour Party. What matters is not your parliamentary pension. What matters is not your local party, local Momentum or even local electorate think. What matters is what is right.

Because, after three-and-a-half more years, the party you joined as idealistic and ambitious teens or twenty-somethings will not be there any more. You can act now, or you can make sure that number seven, in that list of long-serving leaders of the Labour Party, is the last that ever led the party as a fighting force.

Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour party manager who blogs at The Centre Left


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16 Responses to “Labour’s dreadful local election performance is the clearest possible public verdict on Corbyn”

  1. John P reid says:

    Corbyn said in May 1987 iit doesn’t matter if the Tories win the (June) Election,the Government will be brought down by different groups of which opposition in parliament is only a part
    In the lead up to that election Miltant, with their policy it’s better to break the law than break the poor, Scargill not balloting the miners, blocking the road of the Wapping dispute, symbolised how the left thought they could win without getting votes

    After that election at both the Labour conference and 2 dozen times at the TUC conference’s there were statements the revolution was immintent ,Yet the tories stayed on for 10 more years.

    Corbyn impled the groups that backed labour who’d bring down the |Tories in 1987 were the gay vote, the black vote, the womens interests group, but it was never enough and by the white working class identified that the conservaticve party was the party for them, so then labour from 1987 onwards told the working class they were stupid for not vioting labour and then in 1992 the working class still voted for the conservatives

    Labour after 1992 tried to get another group the skilled white collar public sector pension unionised worker, who vote liberal/ Social democrat in 1987

    Fast forward 10 years 2015 Ed Miliband felt that he could get the skiled public sector pension unionised worker and that Ukip would split the torty vote

    And a year later another example of identity politics as the blue collar working class voted Brexit.

    Now look at the similarity labours postion in 1987 to the Liberal left in 2016 after the working class voted tory in 1987 labour told them they were thick for doing so and felt that if this was said loud enough,by 1992 the working class would come back and vote labour, and it didn’t happen, Now after 3 years of telling the working class that they’re thick for voting brexit the working class haven’t budged

    And labour assumed then and now that there’s such a thing as a black vote,A gay vote, well guess what black and gay people care enough about their mortgage so they get a good life and if they feel the conservatives are better to be trusted to their money
    And then we on the left feel that we can’t understand why they don’t vote for us when we tell them, that they’re racist

    If Labour wants identity politics for so called speical interest groups, why cant’ the working class who ‘ve lost everything due to being called racist and not getting the benefits that the special groups get, have been given A voice too.

    Your return to feeling Labour need middle class votes ,is based on The 20 year old Idea, The private sector voter, voted labour and labour felt he working calss had no where else to go, labour with ed Miliband wanted to try to do something about it with his Immigration mug, despite being in the EU couldn’t do anything about controlling it, and after getting more votes in the London assembly elections of 2012 and Losing it elsewhere, then Felt that there’s no point getting working class votes back as we can’t win without Wales that’s fair enough, for them to think it, although the London Liberals with that view are spoiling it for us, but then at the same time

    And Momentum To want to have been funded by the money the members in the Shires donate ,only to put stuff about that could cost the Hard working labour councillors in working class suburb areas their seats then why should we fund them or listen too them, for years the Middle class London Labour party said the working class labour voter aren’t going now where , and at the same time the ex labour Brexiter who may hold their nose and vote Tory or Breixt party , They’re not going to give up on this and why should they, if you hold them in contempt

    Even with demographic changes it just means there vote will go else where and young people get old and start torealise that the labour holds them in contempt

  2. Alf says:

    I think the voters were just put off by the zombie Blairites. We’re still being punished for our past attacks on the poor and disabled. But there is hope: the Libs have managed to rehabilitate themselves over time.

  3. Tafia says:

    You would have to be somewhat brain-dead to try and extrapolate from an election with only a 30% turn-out and lower in some places.

    The ‘big test’ will be the European Elections in 3 weeks time. Turn-out will be far higher and the two ‘new kids on the block’ will be standing – The Brexit Party and CHUK.

    I suspect The Brexit Party is going to do far better than people think – possibly taking more than half the seats. Certainly, round here (Yorkshire) there were people voting both Labour and Tory yesterday who are voting Brexit Party in 3 weeks time.

  4. Landless Peasant says:

    It wasn’t as dreadful as the media are making out, Labour did massively better than the Tories and nowhere near as bad as under Miliband:

    https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/05/03/media-spin-makes-it-seem-tories-and-labour-were-hit-equally-hard-in-local-elections-not-true/

  5. Landless Peasant says:

    Labour is not “riddled with antisemitism”, it is beleaguered by false allegations of antisemitism made by Rightwingers in a blatant attempt to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Get it right.

  6. Richard Malim says:

    Tell us why 17 seats were lost in Derbyshire. Is this the Chris Williamson factor?

    and why 5 or more seats were lost in ‘our’ areas: Bolsover, Huddersfield, Middlesborough, Chesterfield, Sunderland, Lancaster, Stockton, Barnsley, Bolton, Blackpool, Hartlepool, S Tyneside? Has the country gone mad?

  7. Anne says:

    I don’t agree with all that is said in this article. I believe what the local elections have shown is that the electorate are disillusioned with the Tory party and are looking for somewhere else to go – hence the upsurge in the smaller parties – in some ways this is not a bad thing and it does perhaps demonstrates how divided the country is. For Labour – our position is now at stalemate – we have gone as far as we can progress wise – why is this the case? The manifesto was a good one – they are coming up with ideas ‘for the many not the few’ so what is holding us back? It does point to our leader Mr Corbyn – no matter how much he tries to be more appealing to the public the case is set, especially among the older voters – ‘I don’t like Mr Corbyn.’ However, unlike the Tories we have some talented people in our ranks – my own favourite is Kier Starmer who certainly demonstrates leadership.

  8. Alf said: “I think the voters were just put off by the zombie Blairites. We’re still being punished for our past attacks on the poor and disabled. But there is hope: the Libs have managed to rehabilitate themselves over time.”

    Except, Alf, the Blairites increased many benefits. Corbyn’s 2017 manifesto involved implementing £7bn/year more of Tory benefit cuts
    See https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/20/labour-manifesto-keep-planned-tory-benefit-cuts-resolution-foundation

  9. steve says:

    “If Labour wants identity politics for so called speical interest groups, why cant’ the working class … have been given A voice too.”

    Again Rob, you’ve played a blinder.

    I very much look forward to your denunciation of the unaccountable elite who are busily attempting to prevent Brexit with their so-called ‘Peoples’ Vote campaign.

    A pro-EU Westminster stitch-up is exactly what the working class don’t want.

    Attaboy!

  10. John P Reid says:

    We should accept the last labour govt made mistakes not only didn’t build enough Housing or allow others to do if , but didn’t listen to the community who had concerns about how their communities were changing to quickly

    Blair shut the debate down saying that we couldn’t alter change and not be global and he had listened, yet the people didn’t get the message that change was good he was right as he wasn’t prejudice and through cooperation everyone would finically have if vettwr, not realising that whole people do vote for a better life, it isn’t always a more materialistic life

    and then when dared to talk about housing and demographic changes it was Harriet harman who said don’t talk about it

    And then the same it was momentum that shut down debate saying its racist by blue labour saying Gordon and Ed Miliband Questioned multiculturalism and white flight and then it was criticised by the guardian
    And was racist for them to say it as Blair was right
    And can’t say that as it’s can’t think about the working class mentioning it

  11. steve says:

    @ John P Reid

    Clearly, Blair is a great supporter of immigration as he has done much to instigate immigration by destabilising the Middle East via support for lunatic military interventions. Miliband did his bit for immigration by supporting the Cameron government’s involvement in turning Libya into a terrorist hell-hole. Yet Miliband attempted to capitalise on the chaos he helped produce with Labour’s daft anti-immigration mug.

    You mention Momentum – interesting thing is that Momentum becomes more and more like Progress with the passing of each day. Momentum now supports another referendum and Momentum favourite, the alleged Marxist John McDonnell, is now backing Progress founder Liam Bryne for West Mids mayor.

    Wouldn’t be at all surprised to see comrade Rob Marchant signing up for Momentum soon – there may even be a paid opening for a ‘communications consultant’. Perhaps Liam ‘There’s no money left’ Byrne could put a word in for him.

  12. Tafia says:

    Hot on the heels of polls by both Opinium and ComRes showing the Brexit Party in a massive lead in the Euro Elections comes thios mornings YouGov showing exactly the same thing. Brexit Party is now higher in the polls than the next two parties combined and on course to not only take the top two places in most of the English seats, but the top three in some.

    But what it also shows is that the Brexit Party is starting to peel votes off Labour in ever increasing numbers – the Labour Leave voters up in the north and midlands.

    So now Labour is losing voters both ways – to more Remain parties one way and Brexit Party the other.

    In addition, the last three Westminster voting intention polls (all by different companies) have all placed Labour in the lead but below 30% with the Brexit Party in second place in two and third in one.

    And polling for the Peterborough by-election – a marginal Labour/Tory seat in a Leave area that was held by Labour, shows that where Labour should win easily against a shattered Tory party, they are in fact neck-and-neck with the Brexit Party.

    Labour on course to win the next general election, with less than 250 seats and unable to form a majority unless it gets all the small parties – including the DUP, on board AND either the Brexit Party or the Tories.

    And now Starmer and Watson seem hell-bent on starting a civil war in the party.

  13. John P Reid says:

    Steve and taiga, spit in as usual

    Steve can I quote you in my book

  14. John P Reid says:

    Steve- Strange even upto 4 years Ago young Labour we’re chanting “Tony,Tony Blair”, at their meetings idolising Blair during Ed Milibands time as he was their god.
    Now they chant Oh Jeremy while going on about being 2nd referendummers for Remain without twigging the messiah wants no such thing

    Don’t know if 4 years ago they bought into the myth as Blair won elections what he did was justified or genuinely thought it was a socialist utopia to kill millions in Iraq,
    Any more than the youngsters haven’t a clue if Corbyn won, their future generations would be saddled with his debt While there’s no jobs to have the benefits if union control

  15. Rather than assuming its’ the Tiggers party that will do it this time it’s the Blue labour style member who’s quitting the labour party for the Brexit party in the EU vote, for a few years the Blue labour wing were saying labour is ignoring the working class at it’s peril, then the rise of momentum who are just as much middle class identity politics as. Progress have told the blue labour wing to keep quiet dismissed their concerns as prejudiced, and eventually ignored Brexit too the point that, labour thinks it can win some kind of majority by being a middle class liberal party, and it took till the beginning of this year for the working class blue labour wing to finally move away and they’re taking the working class vote with them in their stride,a dn the progress/Momentum wing, just like the Bennites before them are oblivious too the damage they’re doing as long as they think they’ve got hold of the party and that their wing can some how virtue signal that by backing remain that they’re appealing to enough middle class voters of their own kind, while ignoring the anger that betrayed working class brexiters are feeling that they’re jumping ship tot eh Brexit party, it could signal the end and destruction of the labour party ,as a working class party ,the anger isn’t racist or thick and some of those quitting labour who feel this anger were actually reluctant remainers

  16. The Sea Change in British politics that was only noticed on the left by a few, saw the Left of labour tell the Gaitskellite moderates who’d been battling for years to get labour into a position to realise it needed to aspire to apart of the electorate who didn’t feel the labour party was for them anymore, were bullied out formed the SDP took millions of votes with them as, as their quick rise, winning by elections showed the public there was a alternative despite what Thathcer said to her view, the construction around members anger at labour turning it’s back on the working class, the fact those voters weren’t’ going to go away form politics and apathy on the left of labour, humiliated the far left at the 1983 election

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