PREDICTABLE, but inevitable. Nothing short of a tsunami. That was the outcome of the General Election.
Good Labour MPs lost their seats in former solid working class mining constituencies here in Yorkshire. Labour betrayed and let down its own supporters and the country.
In doing so, it has lost good people like Caroline Flint, Mary Creagh, Paula Sherriff, John Grogan, Thelma Walker and Anna Turley who supported Labour through thick and thin, and who are the victims of Jeremy Corbyn’s hubris.
The terrible twist is that great parts of Labour’s manifesto, not least the promised infrastructure investment for the North of England, are desperately needed.
It is right that we should have modernisation and probably a partnership agreement with the private sector for delivering broadband. Both businesses and individuals would benefit enormously. But free for everybody? Everything, just about everything, was going to be ‘free’. But of course it is at a cost and someone has to pay it.
People are not daft. They may be entirely comfortable with raising the national take of gross national income to 46 per cent in line with France or Germany – but they also understand that pension funds are affected if you go too far and the pension funds are, after all, their investment and their deferred earnings for their retirement.
There has always been a classic Conservative working class vote. For those running the Labour Party over the last four years to not understand this is unforgiveable. If you live, work and have your social life in a particular part of north London – and quite a lot of the Labour leadership including their hangers-on fit into that category – you really won’t understand what is going on in the rest of the country.
So, instead of being able to achieve the investment in education, housing, the health service and yes, the very future of our economic competitiveness, they decided that they would throw everything in the manifesto – and the electorate subsequently threw everything out.
Thus to lose is the big betrayal. It means you can’t do any of the things that the much maligned Blair government did between 1997 and 2007 before the global meltdown. You can’t deliver the transformation of the education system, the complete transformation of waiting times in the NHS or the renewal of outdated housing.
Even if Jeremy Corbyn had been personally as popular with the people as he was with the zealots who made him Labour leader in the first place, then the programme itself would have frightened them off.
Not to understand how you deliver, the time it takes to legislate, and to put the infrastructure in place is a failure of politics and statecraft. That was their failure, as well as a gross misreading of the nature of the British people.
Anyone embroiled in politics, other than those who have been in perpetual opposition, would know something about the nature of Britain and in particular English voters. That is why we never had a revolution in the way they did on the continent.
And here we are again. Good people out of Parliament, the party structure still held by the Corbyn zealots and a total inability to accept the blame.
In talking to Conservative as well as Labour voters recently, it was clear to me that no-one trusts Boris Johnson. He is the least respected of any prime minister in my lifetime, and without doubt has the least competent and credible Cabinet.
That is what made the debacle of December 12, 2019, such a dark day. Not just for the Labour Party but for the British people. Getting ‘Brexit done’ is by no means over when Johnson’s cobbled together deal is pushed through Parliament in January.
Yes, he may well get this first step of Brexit ‘done’ but there remains a whole raft of trade agreements to be reached in the next year,
The blame doesn’t lie with the electorate, it lies with the leadership of the Labour Party because it is they who failed to understand the nature of the British people and failed to understand that this election was winnable with a more tempered, carefully honed and, yes, bold set of policies. What now?
Trade unionists now need to reassert themselves and take control of Labour’s National Executive instead of allowing individuals like Len McCluskey to dominate.
A Parliamentary party, including those of us in the Lords, now need to make some pretty clear decisions about what we are prepared to tolerate in the future.
A Labour Party that removes Jeremy Corbyn and those around him, and installs a temporary leader whilst a leadership election is organised, will have support in sorting out the mess. This includes the terrible scandal and blight of anti-semitism, intimidation and thuggery.
Not revenge, not some sort of ‘getting back’ at those who have done this, but a sensible and well thought through programme to put Labour where it belongs – in government.
Winning back the trust of the voters that we’ve always sought to represent and to speak for. The people who were let down on Thursday by those who thought they knew better – and didn’t.
David Blunkett is a Labour peer. He was Home Secretary in Tony Blair’s government.