‘The simple response of course is to blame it all on Corbyn. Let’s face it, no more comprehensive bogeyman has ever been offered to the British electorate.
An extreme, hard left, unreconstructed Marxist, surrounded by ruthless Bolsheviks, he was a hater of Britain and of freedom, a friend of terrorists, an anti-Semite and racist, a fanatic dedicated to a state grab and the dismantling of enterprise, a driver-out of decent people, a dissenter from the holy grail of nuclear deterrence who would have left his country defenceless and, for good measure, a teetotal vegan, which rules him out as a reliable person with whom to deal, after the manner of Jagger and Richards’ “he can’t be a man ‘cos he doesn’t smoke/The same cigarettes as me”.
Had he gained office, he would have confiscated all your possessions and slain your first-born. Really, it’s astonishing that Labour got any votes at all.
On the other hand, perhaps this is a simple-minded reading.
The comforting notion that it would have been a very different story if somebody else – Liz Kendall, Owen Smith – had been leading the party and hence that it must all come good with, say, Jess Phillips fronting up at the next election doesn’t stand up to much examination.
After all, it’s relatively unusual for a sitting British government to be voted out of office. It’s only happened twice in the last 40 years.
Before that, despite everything that’s claimed about the volatility of the contemporary electorate, changes of government were more common: three in the 1970s alone. Still, since World War II, only eight governments have lost office, four of each of the two main parties.
As a general rule, it may be considered that opposition parties do not win elections, but rather that governments lose them, because they’re perceived as exhausted or incompetent or corrupt or a combination of these perceptions. That was certainly the case in 1964, 1979, 1997 and 2010, the last three of which are the most recent examples.
Something very striking about the election outcomes of the last 40 years is the identities of the two Tory prime ministers defeated during that passage of time. Both Edward Heath and John Major had largely lost the confidence of the national press. (To a lesser extent, this was also true of Theresa May).’
Read more: Lead Us Not Into Oblivion