Now no doubt – Corbyn hasn’t got a prayer: says LORD BLUNKETT

Now there can be no doubt – Corbyn hasn’t got a prayer: The damning verdict of former Labour Home Secretary LORD BLUNKETT after Labour’s ‘catastrophic failure’ in the local elections

The defining moment in a dismal night for Labour came when London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan quietly slipped out of the back door before the Conservative victory was proclaimed in Wandsworth, a key target in his aim of ‘painting the town red’.

In truth, anyone who believes in the democratic principle that there should be a viable, electable alternative to our current shambles of a Government should have been equally dismayed by Labour’s dismal performance in Thursday’s council elections – whatever they think of the party.

Of course, it was an election in which Jeremy Corbyn’s cheerleaders on the far Left had confidently predicted a Labour landslide and the capture of key Conservative-held London boroughs such as Kensington and Chelsea, Hillingdon, Wandsworth and even Westminster.

Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party missed an opportunity to seize key Conservative-held London boroughs

Certainly they will never have a better opportunity. 

The internal Tory civil war over Brexit, the Windrush scandal and the breast-screening fiasco all resonate deeply in the capital. But even in London – now, more than ever, a Labour city – the Corbyn revolution is the dog that refused to bark.

The party I have worked for all my life catastrophically failed to win targets such as Barnet, where voters, at least in part, turned away from Labour in droves because of the anti-Semitism furore. 

Outside London the picture was worse, with disastrous performances in Dudley, Derby and elsewhere. 

Election expert Professor Sir John Curtice pointed out there had actually been a swing to the Conservatives from Labour.

Yet according to the leadership’s advance publicity, this was an election in which the Corbyn-supporting Momentum group was supposed to deliver grassroots campaigning and a seismic political breakthrough. 

How telling that one of Labour’s few success stories, in Plymouth, happened precisely because local activists insisted on running their own campaign and told Momentum to stay away.

The lesson to be learned is simple and obvious: Corbyn’s project is leading the party away from victory.

Outside London the picture was worse, with disastrous performances in Dudley, Derby and elsewhere

Labour moderates have remained dutifully silent since he unexpectedly won more than 40 per cent of the vote in last year’s General Election. 

But it’s becoming clear that Theresa May was denied the mandate she sought for a whole host of reasons, not because Corbyn is some sort of modern prophet.

Last June some voted for Labour safe in the belief that Corbyn would not be Prime Minister, others because they believed it was their best chance of avoiding a hard Brexit. 

There were, certainly, some true believers. But it has become increasingly clear that Jeremy’s leadership is going nowhere.

Where, for example, is his vision? He could have cauterised the damaging anti-Semitism scandal by exposing it for what it was: the loathsome views of a very small group of far-Left fanatics who joined the party only after he became leader, and expelling those responsible. Instead he has fudged and prevaricated.

His policy on the most pressing matter of the day, Brexit, is so vague that even the Shadow Ministers press-ganged to explain it on television and radio tie themselves in knots.

And the parliamentary successes Labour has enjoyed in recent months have come because of the hard work and political nous of politicians the Corbynistas hatefully profess to despise as ‘Red Tories’ – backbencher David Lammy shaming the Government over Windrush; Margaret Hodge forcing the Government into a U-turn on Commonwealth tax havens; Yvette Cooper holding Amber Rudd’s feet to the fire over the ‘hostile environment’ for immigrants, which resulted in her resignation. Keir Starmer and his team are the only reason Labour’s Brexit balancing act has lasted so long.

We currently stand at a crossroads in British history, where if Tory hard-Brexit free marketeers have their way, workers’ protections could be shredded, countless jobs lost.

This is precisely the moment where the Labour Party should be leading the national debate about our future, but all Corbyn and his acolyte John McDonnell have to offer are ideas that were promoted and rejected in the 1970s and 1980s. 

I’m not opposed to their ideas of social ownership of water and joint partnerships in rail. But these are not the policies of tomorrow. 

What does Corbyn’s Labour say to the millions who stand to lose their livelihoods to automation and outsourcing? 

How will it rejuvenate hollowed-out towns where shops are boarded up? 

What will it do about our deteriorating public spaces, where shared events and experiences should be enriching all our lives?

What, after all, is the point of Labour as a party of principle if it doesn’t make a stand for the people it is elected to represent rather than peddle outmoded political dogma?

I was part of a Labour ‘project’ that won three General Elections by appealing to people’s aspirations for a better future, not a return to the past. 

The lesson then, as now, is Labour can only be politically successful if it creates a clear agenda based on a positive alternative, rather than defining ourselves as being ‘anti’ everybody and everything.

The parliamentary party – backbenchers, committee members and Select Committee chairmen – must pick up the cudgel and begin formulating ideas and policies. 

From among them, a leadership group must be formed from which a genuine alternative can emerge.

It won’t be easy. I’ve seen the personal vitriol local activists endure from some Corbyn supporters. 

I’ve seen the threats of deselection from the likes of Unite’s Len McCluskey. I’ve seen how good Labour MPs are traduced and insulted, and admired the bravery of those who have been vilified for standing up to anti-Semitism.

But it’s clear from the council election results that Corbynism is doomed to failure. Rebuilding a new, positive, Labour from the ground up is the only way forward. 

It’ll take time, which means there’s no time to lose.

Whatever your views on Labour, our country and our democracy needs a proper, credible and electable alternative to challenge the Government. 

A renewed form of moderate New Labour needs to return. 


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