Election Shorts: May's Drubbing Means Corbyn Could be PM
May Has to Go
May has done something extraordinary: her mission was to put a weak Labour leader out of his supposed misery; instead, she turned the revolver upon her own party.
Her whole rationale for calling the election was that an increased majority could provide the leadership that Britain needs to deliver on last year’s Brexit referendum. She failed.
May has failed to recognise the difference between moral and political legitimacy. She no longer has the former - she might not even have the latter. Her rush to the palace to “kiss hands” as if she had just won a landslide was ill-advised. The Tories are now a minority. It is far from certain that a DUP deal will be acceptable to many in her party.
The potential deal is a shabby end to May’s political career. She would have been better to have resigned immediately. By trying to cling on in the face of defeat, she is further destroying her party, toxifying its brand by associating it with cranks and misfits; she is putting the Good Friday Agreement at risk just as Northern Ireland descends into a period of stasis. It is gross irresponsibility.
The other alternative would be for May to reach out to Labour and start to form a consensus on Brexit - something she should have done nine months ago. However, the calm within her party since last June masks the division. The Conservatives are unable to reach out on Brexit. For all her flaws, May knows that.
He may not have won but Jeremy Corbyn defied his critics. But he increased his vote share by more than May increased hers. He won seats while she lost seats. Combined with the Scottish Nationalists, the Lib Dems and the Greens, a “progressive alliance” outweighs the Tories by a wide margin in the popular vote.
The parliamentary arithmetic may not be there quite though. Yet on Brexit he may not have a majority for him, he might not have a majority against him either though. Prime Minister Corbyn is a struggle but it is a better outcome than Prime Minister May.
The first Labour government - in 1924 - was also a minority second placed “winner”. So maybe his supporter were right after all: he will take Labour back to its roots.
The Near-Miracle of Labour's Comeback
Cut me a slice of humble pie, and make it hearty. Like many, the announcement of this election filled me with dread; thoughts of electoral wipe-out and a perpetual one-party Tory state flooded my mind. But Corbyn’s supporters were right when they said campaigning is his key strength. Make what you will of his leadership, but he’s shown a knack for rousing support – enough to ensure one of the biggest campaign upswings in electoral history.
It wasn’t all down to the Corbyn Factor. Labour produced a superb manifesto which threw bones to its various factions and focused on core Labour values, rather than becoming a Corbyn personality cult. They managed a tricky but necessary task by appealing to both traditional deindustrialised areas and urban liberals, tapping into shared values like redistribution and public services. They offered a coherent vision which, especially among young voters, cut through the tabloid histrionics and allowed them to stand as a positive, hopeful movement.
Compare this to a Conservative party who, rather than costed policies of any real substance, ran a drab “we’re the safest option” campaign, themselves attempting to form a personality cult around a leader too robotic to even face a TV debate. She may yet form the next government, but Theresa May has weakened her status irredeemably. Once poised for a landslide, she’s instead scored the own goal of the century.
In my most doubt-filled moments I thought only a miracle would stop this election from being a disaster. Last night wasn’t a miracle but, as the more optimistic polls started proving accurate, it felt something like one. Stability is a long way off for anybody right now, but the left should consider itself strong.
Corbyn Becomes One of Labour’s Most Successful Leaders
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party - as most commentators predicted - have not won the general election. But this is the only detail most of them got right.
Corbyn was expected to be decimated by a Tory landslide like Michael Foot in 1983. Instead Labour won dozens of seats and 40 percent of the popular vote, at 12.8 million not only the largest since Tony Blair’s landslide in 1997, but the biggest swing to Labour since Clement Attlee defeated Winston Churchill in 1945.
The voters - including an estimated 72% turnout of 18 - 24 year olds - have rejected the Tory austerity and Hard Brexit agenda in their droves. Corbyn’s failure was not pulling off the ultimate upset of a majority Labour win.
Theresa May slinks on as head of a minority government. A catastrophic and bizarre Tory campaign, defined by the “dementia tax” fiasco, has destroyed her authority. Her party probably wants to scalp her, but this would leave the country with yet another unelected Tory Prime Minister.
May’s reputation plummets further as she seeks an alliance with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party - represented by a bloc of MPs with prehistoric attitudes towards LGBT people, feminism and abortion rights, and embedded with anti-Catholic sectarianism. Just for a tiny parliamentary majority it is May - not Corbyn - forming a "coalition of chaos" sympathetic to extremism.
Labour could still have the chance to form a minority government backed by a “progressive alliance”. But it might stand a better chance of winning the next general election, which like in 1974 could be sooner rather than later.
While May is already one of the worst Prime Ministers in history, Corbyn has been vindicated as one of Labour’s greatest successes. If the Parliamentary Labour Party unites with the Labour membership to rally around him, PM Corbyn could be in sight.
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