Labour let the Tories set the bar in this year’s local elections. We didn’t challenge their agenda, and that has to change if we are to look realistically into the next General Election with a view to winning power.
The fact is that Labour bought into extremely unrealistic targets, in particularly in London, but also across the country. The idea that Tory strongholds such as Wandsworth and Westminster were to turn red was beyond farcical, but allowed the Tories to dictate whether the election was a failure for Labour or not.
This inability to manage expectations has drawn attention away from the fact that Labour has made gains in the number of council seats it holds, and continues to dominate in its strongholds in places such as Leeds and has forced Tory losses in Trafford. Instead, the media has rightly used Labour’s own expectations against them, particularly in London where many party officials suggested Labour would have its best ever result there.
It is this failure of expectation management that has allowed the Prime Minister to travel around traditional Tory strongholds to stand in front of her party’s very few campaigners and gloat about how they have stood firm against a significant Labour threat. In reality, there was no significant Labour threat at all, and this has allowed Theresa May’s Government to finally appear relatively strong, if not stable.
Make no mistake, the mass Labour campaign machine did prevent the party from actually going backwards in these elections. But, the hysteria around this London-centric campaign has only caused Labour to come away as the losers, while the Tories appear to have stood firm without making any significant gains and having a small proportion of seats and councils to defend, in comparison to Labour.
British politics appears to still be at the stalemate it reached in 2017, with projections looking to show another hung parliament should there be a general election this year.
Nevertheless, the idea that the Tory disaster never failed to materialise misses the point in an election in which nothing materially changed. But, with overhyped expectation and a somewhat misinterpretation of reality following months of internal rows based around anti-semitism, Labour’s spin machine jumped the gun and now has egg on its face.