It’s no doubt that Thursday night was a very positive night for the Labour Party. When the snap election was called, the Tories were 15-20 points ahead in the polls, and a landslide was on the cards. Even when we all started heading to the polls on Thursday, most were expecting that Theresa May would increase her majority, and Labour would lose seats up and down the country.
Alas, the result was very different, and the likes of YouGov and Survation were proven right. When the exit poll came in, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. When the exit poll came true, I still couldn’t quite believe my eyes. I was one of those expecting at least a 60+ majority for the Conservatives and May, and I was so happy to be proven completely wrong.
I didn’t expect Corbyn to excel like he had throughout the campaign, and I didn’t expect the youth to turnout in the way they did – both are good signs going forward. Especially the fact that young people are turning up to the polling booths, I just hope that they continue to do so, even when the leader isn’t Corbyn. Young people are the reason for Labour’s huge increase in vote share, and they must stay if Labour are going to continue to move forward.
What truly does worry me, is that so many on the left, and so many in the Labour Party seem to be viewing Thursday night as some sort of victory. Yes, the results were better than expected, but let’s stick to the facts. The Tories won; they have the most votes, the most seats, and they are once again back in Number 10, albeit propped up by the DUP. Labour still lost. And there is a still a long way to go if Labour wants to get back into power.
What the results from this week show, is there are now so many divides in politics. The divides between the old and the young, Remain and Leave, cities and towns, are bigger than ever before. Labour can’t simply focus on a couple of these, they must be broad, open, and look to them all. Only then, can they win an overall majority and get back into government. Labour must look to the heartlands where the Tories are making huge strides; we must listen to these people’s opinions on immigration, Brexit, security, and try to win these back over.
You can’t just assume this result means you’re on course for a victory next time. The Tories had a terrible campaign, and Labour may never face a weaker leader or government again. An election cannot be won from one clique on the left, and although this was a positive performance, it shows that to govern Labour must be broader. As I have mentioned on many occasions before, like here, Labour must look more towards the centre to pick up those votes needed to get you over the line. Labour showed that a radical, progressive, positive manifesto does cut through, but more must be done to tackle the big issues that people look towards.
Corbyn can’t just come alive when the election cycle reaches the campaign stage, you must be a proper opposition all the time, not in the final 6 weeks. The next 18 months will leave so many open doors for Labour as the Tories push through a chaotic Brexit, and a decent opposition should easily pick them off. Can Corbyn push on and do this? That’s the question. Last night was not a victory, there is still a long way to go if we want to govern, and that’s the only victory there is.