Monday, October 14, 2019

A warning to Labour from 1983

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What if the opinion polls are right? Yes, Corbyn did much better in 2017 than anyone expected, but what if Labour finds itself struggling to beat the Liberal Democrats into third place at the next election, much as Michael Foot struggled to outpoll the Liberal/SDP  Alliance in 1983?

You might think that would mark the end of Corbynism and a long march back to the centre ground n Labour's behalf.

Don't bank on it.

Here is Tony Benn's reaction to Labout's catastrophic (the Tories had a 144-seat majority) defeat in 1983:
"The general election of 1983 has produced one important result that has passed virtually without comment in the media,” said Benn. “It is that, for the first time since 1945, a political party with an openly socialist policy has received the support of over eight and a half million people. 
"This is a remarkable development by any standards and it deserves some analysis … the 1983 Labour manifesto commanded the loyalty of millions of voters and a democratic socialist bridge-head in public understanding and support can be made."
This determination of the hard left to learn nothing from defeat was a gift to Neil Kinnock, His reforms of the Labour Party met with little opposition because the only alternative appeared to be perpetual defeat,

But Kinnock commanded a majority on the party's national executive. Whoever succeeds Corbyn, the hard left will enjoy that advantage and may well take Tony Benn's line on electoral defeat.

In which case there will be no easy way back for Labour.

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