Labour didn’t win this election but it was a tremendous success for them. The Conservatives may have won the most seats but ultimately their ‘victory’ may come at a higher price than an outright defeat would have done. The alliance with the DUP will prove to be unsustainable, unsupported by the general public and toxic to the Conservative’s credibility.
I said Pre-election how the Conservatives chose to attack Corbyn by using fear over his discussions with Sinn Fein in the 1980s. Talks that were not designed to support or sympathise with terrorists as reported but designed to attempt to bring peace to Northern Ireland. How will that line of attack remain credible when they are now paired with a party who held/hold ties to a terrorist organisation? In 2017.
If the public can forgive Corbyn talking to Sinn Fein then they may forgive the DUP their ties to the Ulster resistance. They will surely not forgive the homophobic, creationist, climate change denial, anti-abortion policies the DUP bring to the table. In 2017.
Labour gained 30 seats from 2015. Including unexpected seats such as Kensington and Canterbury. The number of seats alone doesn’t tell the full story. They gained 3.45 million voters. More than the 1.96 million gained by Tony Blair in 90’s. Almost across the country constituencies showed a swing towards Labour. Some previously safe seats have begun to move into marginal territory. The vote share increase of 9.6% was more than any election for Labour since 1945. The turnout for the election itself was the highest since 1997 at 68.7% and unconfirmed figures suggest youth turnout could be as high as 72%.
These results alone are pretty incredible. It makes it even more incredible that it involved 40% of the public voting for a left wing social democratic manifesto. The political consensus was that the UK was too conservative for left wing policies to ever appeal to the public. Micheal Foot’s crushing defeat in 1983 left scars on the political psyche of this country that have taken 35 years to overcome. But these results prove there is a hunger for these policies within the British public. At a time when it seemed the political spectrum was moving ever rightwards this has pushed us way back to the left.
It has left the political commentators dumbfounded. They are now rushing to justify their previous criticisms of Corbyn. In some cases they are trying to explain away and demean these results. You will see a lot of that. Note how they have started comparing the 2017 results to 2010. Ignoring the 2015 election altogether. They talk of Corbyn simply being a ‘great campaigner’. They say that this was still a loss and that such a weak Conservative party should have been beaten into minority.
Of course they didn’t say any of this before the exit poll on Thursday. It may be that they are simply having difficulty adjusting to the seismic shift in their worldview. The human brain doesn’t like being wrong especially when everyone you know thought the same way you did. The cynic in me wonders whether it is an intentional ploy to quell the enthusiasm around the election result. An attempt to slow Labour’s roll.
Fortunately I don’t think there is any going back. The political community’s failure to accurately explain what happened arises because they still don’t understand it. They can’t stop what they don’t understand. I am even more hopeful for the future now.