Who would have though defeat felt so fine?


Labour lost its parliamentary majority and had its share of the popular vote reduced to a 1983-like level. Labour’s (probably) on its way out of government and the Tories on their way in. So how come this defeat  doesn’t have me bawling like a baby?

Firstly, low expectations. There were moments during the campaign when it looked like there wouldn’t be much of a Parliamentary Labour Party left after May 6 and that we’d be coming in third behind the Yellow Peril. Therefore, retaining 258 Labour MPs seems extremely healthy. The number of people who actually voted for us may be abysmally low by historic standards but at least we got a million or so more than the Lib Dems!

Secondly, Cameron’s failure to win. Even after Labour have been in government for 13 years and have therefore managed to annoy/disappoint just about everybody in at least one way; even after Labour have taken the country into a massively controversial war and a seemingly unwinnable one; even after the country went into recession whilst the Prime Minister was the bloke who had been in charge of managing the economy for the previous decade; even after years of the most widely read newspapers running headlines like ‘Labour surrender the Crown Jewels to pregnant teenage asylum seeking gypsies because of EU regulations and the Human Rights Act’ on a daily basis…

…even after all that Cameron’s Conservatives can’t get themselves a majority in the House of Commons. Pathetic!

Thirdly, there’s a feeling amongst some Labourites that now would be a better time than most to enter a period of opposition. Implementing massive, Armageddon-like public spending cuts isn’t going to be fun. It’s not the reason why we joined the party. Accepting that losing office is inevitable in a functioning democracy, why not just accept that the Conservatives should now be given a chance? Bonus – the fact that the Tories lack a Commons majority and may have to team up with the Lib Dems may constrain the heartlessness of their spending cuts (way too optimistic here?).

Fourthly, because despite everything that the opinion polls suggested was going to happen we kept the red flag flying in my ‘hood (Islington South and Finsbury). It proves that with a good candidate, with a good local team of campaigners and with good principled policies you can achieve a good result, even in the most difficult of circumstances.


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