Photo: Tomas Dekeyser
The election was clearly a proxy referendum on Brexit. The simple messaging of getting Brexit “done”, with the entire media establishment lined up to attack Labour and Corbyn, and years of extreme-centrist and blue-Labour wrecking actions, including the farce of the engineered antisemitism “crisis”, have led to a situation where we have an actual racist with racist policies as Prime Minister for the next 5 years.
We lost because of Brexit. The left-wing policies in the Labour manifesto were, and remain, popular with voters. But the extreme centrists in Labour and the media want to pretend this was a rejection of compassionate, left-wing policies. If anything it was a rejection of Labour’s policy of a 2nd referendum on Brexit, which centrists now forget they had demanded.
Ironically the same people who said Labour were unelectable because of the racism of 0.01% of its members are now advocating Labour become more racist in order to be more electable.
The voters rejected Labour’s 2nd referendum at this election, they also rejected the centrism of the Liberal Democrats. Anyone arguing that a more “moderate” leader would have defeated Tory Brexit-hysteria have to explain the failure of the Lib Dems first, and the explicit swing from Labour to the Brexit party. The fact is that any Labour leader to the left of Blair would have also been monstered by the press. That they were able to demonise a kind, vegan, lifelong anti-racist campaigner as "literally Hitler" shows the power and cynicism at play against us.
For the sake of the marginalised, the sick, and poverty stricken in this country, for the sake of the environment, for the sake of the thousands of innocents UK bombs obliterate overseas, we cannot allow neoliberal pro-war centrists like Jess Phillips and Tom Watson to wrestle back control of the Labour party. Watching them cynically manoeuvre themselves into that position on TV last night was shocking and transparent.
In all the “analysis” of Labour's defeat we watched after the exit polls came in, the closed-rank assault by the press billionaires and BBC was barely mentioned, if it was, it was dismissed as an excuse. That’s fucking absurd. The left obviously need to look hard at our tactics and strategy for winning elections in what is essentially a one-party state, with a billionaire-controlled media environment. But we cannot lose the Labour party, which remains the only vehicle for meaningful parliamentary change. If you aren’t already a member, please join today, to fight to keep the left at the heart of Labour. We don’t beat the Tories by becoming Tories.
That said, it is also time to remember that elections are only one small part of politics. The incredible movement of people who have thrown their time and energy into trying to enact socialism over barbarism are still out there, and we can’t allow heavy hearts to halt our momentum. We have to mobilise and put our bodies on the line to defend migrants, to defend traveller communities, to defend BAME people, LGBT+ people, and others, against what is bound to be both policy-led and street-based attacks against them. The battles are now those of organisation, protest, and direct action.
Tony Benn said “There is no final victory, just as there is no final defeat. Just the same battle to be fought over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up.”
We don’t reject and fight against racism, militarism, corporatism and austerity because they’re easy things to defeat, we do it because it is the right thing to do. It was never going to be easy, and the chances of winning were always slim, but the Tories and entrenched power in this country want you to be hopeless. After seeing the mass mobilisation of activists that was possible in this election, I don’t feel hopeless.