A wreck that has been long in the making
The General Election result was spectacular but unsurprising. It reflected pretty much where things stood when Boris Johnson was allowed to call it seven long weeks ago.
Taking a longer term view, it reflected the inevitable destination for Jeremy Corby’s leadership of Labour. That was a fate delayed two years ago, but the same landslide was not going to be dodged twice. He was, quite simply, unelectable.
The outcome is a landmark in British politics brought about, I would contend, by three fundamental threads of stupidity committed by those now in the forefront of hand-wringing about the horror of it all.
Modesty does not prevent me pointing out that each has been chronicled and warned against in this column. However, the zeal of those who led us here made them wilfully deaf to voices of caution. Well, they ken noo.
Pride of place in the catalogue of catastrophe must go to the Labour Party which within a decade has turned itself from natural party of progressive government into an embarrassing shambles, Incapable of delivering anything for the people who need it.
Heaping opprobrium on Corbyn, who was hopelessly debilitated from the outset by his past associations, is to miss most of the point. This is a wreck that has been much longer in the making.
Brown begat Milliband and Milliband begat Corbyn. The same people who, in 2010, used their thuggish political muscle to install unelectable Ed for the most negative of motives triggered the train of events. Thursday was as much Len McCluskey’s day of reckoning as Corbyn’s.
If Labour had taken a different course at that time there would probably have been no second Cameron term, no Brexit, no Corbyn and no Johnson. It is Labour’s failure to fulfill its first duty that has led to all of this. That duty is to be electable.
The second route to a rout was led by those who refused to make any compromise with the 2016 referendum result. They proved a lot less smart then they assumed themselves to be and that campaign finally hit the rocks it has long been heading for.
Again, Labour bears heavy responsibility for turning its back on Leave voters. Having failed to campaign effectively to stay in the EU, Labour should have stuck to accepting the result unequivocally and making the best of it.
It should have negotiated and then backed the best available version of Teresa May’s deal – in which case there would have been no “no deal”, no Boris Johnson and no election. Instead, it went for a fudge which lacked credibility and has paid a huge price.
The third landmark act of gross stupidity came from the Liberal Democrats when, they offered Johnson the election he was desperate for at the time of his choosing. Johnson had good reason to be confident of the outcome and he was right.
The Liberal Democrats’ behaviour was based on two puzzling presumptions – that Jo Swinson would prove a popular leader while their undemocratic promise to undo Brexit at the stroke of a pen would enthuse the masses. Instead, their rank opportunism has given us a Tory government and Ms Swinson her P45.
Of course, the SNP was also complicit in facilitating this unnecessary election for Johnson’s convenience. In their case, it can hardly be called an act of stupidity since it has given them their dream outcome – electoral dominance in Scotland and a Tory Government at Westminster which can be railed against for the next five years. Stopping Brexit was always a slogan rather than their objective.
Their 48 MPs will make a lot of noise while delivering nothing for Scotland other than more division and constant demands for another referendum. On that matter however, the dial has scarcely moved and there isn’t going to be one any time soon.
The common factor among those three explanations of why we are facing five years of Boris Johnson is that none of the perpetrators cared enough about pre-empting that outcome to make the necessary accommodations when required. Now we will all discover the consequences.