Great Britain

Labour can't figure out who's responsible for its failure, so it's barking like a dog at its own reflection

At least it’s heartening how no one has responded to the election result by gloating, or blaming everyone but themselves. So that should ensure the country sorts itself out calmly.

For example, thousands of people kindly sent me messages on Twitter concluding it was PATHETIC to say anyone supported the Tories because of racism, usually with Twitter names such as @LOVEBREXITMORETHANMYKIDS14538763 and their previous tweet was a link to an article about how Buckinghamshire is under control of Isis and Muslims have killed all the world’s butterflies.

And the healing process includes articles in The Daily Telegraph that start “Dear Sir, Now the electorate has delivered its verdict, surely the BBC and Britain’s theatres should be placed under the command of the SAS, and Hugh Grant forced to surrender while crawling through nuclear waste, employing the methods of the 39th Regiment upon their capture of Calcutta in 1756.”

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Similarly, the Labour Party has begun a period of calm reflection into what went wrong, with members studying the data closely and offering tentative analysis such as: “Is it any wonder no one wanted to vote for that f***ing twat?”, which is reassuringly half-socialist and half-Buddhist mindfulness.

Tony Blair has been eager to help, along with his supporters who set up Change UK. And they have a strong case, because it certainly would have helped if Labour had abandoned their daft programme that was soundly rejected by 68 per cent of the country, and instead adopted one that was soundly rejected by 99.8 per cent of the country.

Blair’s argument is that his methods won three elections, and the fact this was in a different situation over 20 years ago doesn’t matter. But he doesn’t go far enough, because Lord Liverpool won even more elections from 1812 to 1827, so it’s essential the next leader learns the lessons, by promising to invade Canada and changing his name to Lord Wolverhampton North.

It’s true in areas such as the northeast, Blair’s Labour never took their traditional vote for granted. This is why they always imposed candidates that reflected the local Labour voter, such as in Hartlepool which they gave to Peter “Trawlerman” Mandelson, whose experience of the local fishing industry made him so loved, even if his tattoos were a little embarrassing.

Another of Blair’s favourites rooted in the northeast, adamant he knows how to put Labour “back in touch”, is David Miliband, who was MP in South Shields. He was adored there for his quirky South Shields ways, and managed to take the Labour vote from  27,834 when he took over, to 12,493 by the time he left. Whoever takes over as leader has to take advice from him, and maybe they could get it down to 7.

But the biggest area lost to Labour is Scotland. It had 50 Labour MPs, but was reduced to one before Jeremy Corbyn became leader. Obviously this is Corbyn’s fault, as millions of Scots in 2015 said: “I won’t vote Labour anymore, as I had a peculiar dream that one day in the future it will be led by Jeremy Corbyn.”

In a thrilling competition to avoid responsibility, part of the Corbyn wing of the party is equally insistent they got nothing wrong. So the defeat is entirely because of Brexit, or because Corbyn was undermined by “Blairites”. If they’re playing Trivial Pursuit, and get a question wrong about the capital of Madagascar, they probably say: “I’m still right, because it WOULD have been Nairobi if it hadn’t been betrayed by traitors like Tom Watson.”

I witnessed this talent last summer when I met several local Labour members in an Indian restaurant. One of them said he thought Corbyn should stand down, and be replaced by John McDonnell. So all the others yelled that he was a “Blairite”, with such venom the waiters came over to ask them to be quiet.

It was an interesting theory, that McDonnell was a favourite of Tony Blair, but it seems obvious now. They were certainly both interested in the Middle East, one of them invading it and the other going on marches against invading it, but they both took a keen interest in the area and that’s the main thing.

Maybe this is a condition called “Blairite Universal Blame Syndrome”, in which you accuse anyone who disagrees with you about anything of being a Blairite. Perhaps the members go to the football, and every time the referee gives a free kick against their side they shout: “You’re BLIND you Blairite scum. No WONDER you couldn’t see that was a dive when you couldn’t see the folly of the Private Finance Initiative.”

Maybe one of the left’s biggest problems is this refusal to acknowledge when something clearly isn’t working.

For example, some of the people most vocal about Labour’s antisemitism were hypocrites, and ignored worse racism in their own party, but that doesn’t mean there’s no problem. If you rob an old aged pensioner’s purse, and the gang who carried out the Hatton Garden heist scream you’re a disgrace, it’s quite reasonable to reply: “Hang on, you shouldn’t lecture me about ethics with regards to robbery, you stole a lorry-load of jewels.” But you still robbed an old aged pensioner’s purse, and probably ought to make sure you don’t do it again.

Also, Brexit was a nightmare for Labour, but the official policy seemed to be, “Blimey, it’s bloody complicated, innit?”

And when Corbyn announced he’d be neutral in his own referendum, it made as much sense as saying he would also be neutral in every other government decision, but he would provide the vegetables.

But instead of careful consideration, many in the party are determined to find a better solution – either to insist the left did everything wrong, and should chuck out the policies that were popular and the movement that mobilised thousands of canvassers; or the left did nothing wrong and should try the same as before but with a northern accent.

If someone starts their leadership pitch with “let’s be honest, we all arsed up”, perhaps they should just be given the job.