For the period of the election I produced no blogs and no tweets: this reflected some old family advice. My mother always said if you can’t say anything nice, it’s best to say nothing at all – though she rarely followed her own guidance. My father, a Labour and trade union activist, taught me that if you didn’t like the way the election was organised you should remain silent until the results were in and have your say afterwards.
It is therefore some relief to be able to ease my built-up tension and express my opinion. Labour’s leader was a disgrace; the campaign wholly ineffective; the manifesto misdirected and undeliverable. There was a huge appetite for a plausible, credible left of centre party capable of tackling the poverty experienced by the underclass, addressing growing inequalities of income and opportunity, and rebuilding public sector provision. What we offered the electorate instead was old-fashioned class rhetoric and mass rallies. Ironically all the fulmination against elites and billionaires resulted in many in those old mining areas that I knew so well voting in support of an old Etonian. We could hardly have done worse.
I would not wish to finish this diatribe without saying a word on the manifesto. Generally, this seemed to be based on a belief that any problem can be solved by throwing money at it. There was no thought whatsoever about what is involved in the delivery of services, for example on productivity in the public sector. Meaningless slogans and soundbites were on offer – a ‘National Education Service’ was the most obvious. The electorate were all too aware of the underlying problems but they had lost all trust in the party to deliver any solution.
Nevertheless, I voted Labour and I am glad that I did. It will make me feel more comfortable as I make my contribution, however modest, towards building this credible centre-left party of the future. The failure, pre-election, of alternative new parties, together with the poor electorate performance of the LibDems, means that this must come from the ashes of the Labour Party. Expect a sustained battle between the Corbynistas and a sensible candidate in the mainstream tradition. I hope that this mainstream candidate will have the courage to offer an uncompromising rejection of the politics of class war and residual Marxism.
So, it looks as though I will have to start attending meeting on a regular basis. For the record we had, in the context of the night, a reasonable result in North Norfolk. The Tories gained the seat from the LibDems with a comfortable majority, but Labour held their deposit with 3895 votes (7.7% of the total cast). We had a good candidate, but the local party, firmly in hands of ageing Corbynistas was incapable of delivering an effective campaign.
We shall see what emerges locally in the battle for the soul of the Labour Party. I will resume blogging in the new year when I have something to report.
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