Ignore the nay-sayers—Jeremy's messages are getting throughby Richard Burgon / May 13, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: Sadiq Kahn has won—but has he won well?
It’s twelve months from our General Election defeat which left us feeling devastated. Last May we were seven points behind the Conservative Party—having won 30 per cent of the vote—and in Scotland we were virtually wiped out. The result left the Parliamentary Labour Party 26 MPs smaller overall and in the local elections that took place on the same day we lost over 200 seats.
Last week, where elections took place Labour pulled ahead of the Conservatives. We won the London, Bristol, Liverpool and Salford Mayorlities and performed better than the Conservatives in the council elections.
The nay-sayers had said we were doomed. Some commentators had demanded clearly impossible targets of 400 and even 900 council seat gains, whilst other—more calculated—estimates predicted we were set to lose 150 or 200 council seats. A disaster on 5th May was predicted for months.
If “a week is a long time in politics,” then five years is almost an eternity. A worse result last Thursday wouldn’t have guaranteed defeat in 2020 just as a better result wouldn’t have guaranteed victory. History doesn’t work like that. The unusually good election results in 2012 showed that.
In the end, we were down 18 by Councillors overall. That is sad—as Labour losses always are—but our total was largely stable. The projected national share by John Curtice—a psephologist—and Stephen Fisher—a professor of political sociology—put us one point ahead of the Conservatives, as did the projection by experts Rallings and Thrasher. In England, it was calculated Labour polled 38.5 per cent in those wards contested.
And within those gains and losses, we achieved successes in the South of England where we had been doubted just days before. We held Southampton and Crawley, made gains in the South West in Bristol, Exeter and Swindon and made gains in East Anglia in Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich too. So there are real positives to build upon.
At the same time there are undoubtedly real causes for concern. Scottish Labour’s wipeout following the independence referendum campaign…