Nationally the Labour Party made striking progress in the General Election. It punctured Tory arrogance by wiping out their majority in the Commons, it shocked the newspaper owners and hinted that their power has waned and it revealed the stupidity of many Labour back bench MPs who couldn’t and wouldn’t see that change was coming. It was the Labour Party manifesto and the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn that did it.
Why was Waveney result so bad for Labour?
That didn’t do Labour in Waveney any good. Remarkably Waveney can boast the biggest swing from Labour to Tory in the country (6.44%). Now Labour Party members are casting around for explanations. Was it the big Brexit vote, was it the large number of elderly voters, was it the rushed way the candidate was selected, was it their candidate’s defeat in the County Council elections? Was it “the bridge”?
Lowestoft Coalition Against the Cuts can contribute to the debate – the campaign was awful. Labour Party candidate Sonia Barker acknowledged that she was no fan of Jeremy Corbyn and it showed in the campaign. The Labour manifesto stated that taxes would be raised on the rich and on corporations to properly fund the NHS and public services and it would borrow to invest in infrastructure. The message was clear, bold and innovative. That message had little place in Labour’s campaign in Waveney. On the NHS, for example, “We will fight against further cuts and closures” was simply tame and lame.
Corbyn’s secret visit
Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to Lowestoft could have had a real impact. Instead Labour Party HQ determined on a secret visit to stage a photo opportunity with 30 “reliable” party members as supporting cast. A golden opportunity to inject energy into the campaign and to let the electors see and hear Jeremy Corbyn was spurned. Why?
LCAC doesn’t know if a different campaign would have had a different outcome but the next election, and it could come at any time, has to be different. Importantly, Labour members and Labour councillors must publicly join and lead public campaigns against the cuts that are coming down the road, and for the big changes that have to be made. They must campaign to stop cuts, not just complain against them. More of the same won’t work.