What a night! Labour’s vote exceeded all expectations. The long-predicted Labour electoral wipe-out failed to materialise. On the contrary Labour increased its vote considerably. Even the increased number of Labour MPs (+29) doesn’t tell the whole story. Just consider some basic statistical facts.
The poll of polls was spot on and Labour even got got 40.1% of the vote (as against the Tory 42.7%). Labour gained seats in England, Scotland and Wales.
Labour has 40.1% of the vote on a 68.7% turnout (with 4 seats still to be declared). That means that 27.5% of the electorate voted Labour.
Now compare that with previous elections. In 2015, under Ed Miliband’s leadership, Labour got 30.4% of the vote on a 66.4% turnout i.e. 20.2% of the electorate voted Labour. In 2010, under the leadership of Gordon Brown the figures were 29.1% and 65.1% i.e. 18.9% of the electorate voted Labour. Finally, in 2005, under the leadership of Tony Blair, the figures were 35.2% and 61.4% meaning that Labour had the support of just 21.6% of the electorate.
This has to be a definitive end to the talk of Labour being “unelectable” under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
It is common to see election results only through the distorting optic of the results of the first past the post system. It is important to see the share of the vote and even more to understand the support achieved from the whole electorate. Here is a listing of Labour’s support from the total electorate since 1979.
1979: 28%, 1983: 20.1%, 1992: 26.7%, 1997: 30.8%, 2001: 24.2%, 2015: 21.6%, 2010: 18.9%, 2015: 20.2%, 2017: 27.5%. Let the anti-Corbynites try and argue unelectability on that basis!
The critics have been confounded. The back-stabbing and disruption in the Parliamentary Labour Party has to stop. Another general election may not be far away. Labour now has to focus on developing a solid set of policies in readiness for that.
It is clear that had it not been for the back-stabbing and undermining of Corbyn from within the Labour Party over the last two years Labour’s result in this election would have been much better. It is clear that without that Labour would have won. We hope that those MPs who allowed themselves to be persuaded by talk of Labour’s undetectability under Corbyn will now reflect on how they were mislead. Learning not to believe what the media shouts at you every day is surely the first step in serious political thinking.
Now the resistance to Corbyn’s leadership from within the Party must end so that we can develop policy as a unified force. The Tories have gambled and lost. There is everything to play for.