Submitted by Anonymous
I like election campaigns and I’ve enjoyed them especially since becoming a member of the Labour Party. I love canvassing, talking to voters and getting to know what the issues foremost on their minds are – it’s such an important part of creating an awareness in a political party of what the community’s concerns are.
Importantly, I love the feeling of being part of something bigger. Not just of campaigning for my version of a fairer society, but also humility in the face of the ongoing democratic project: respecting voters’ choice and their right to have their say. Early morning on Election Day, many of you will have received a leaflet reminding you to vote – some of those were delivered by me, up early on Thursday morning and feeling energised by the democratic exercise taking place that day.
The result that night was bitter-sweet. Watching the exit poll at 10pm I was devastated. I knew what was coming of course, but until then I didn’t dare think too much about the extent of it. The good news locally was that our Lewisham Deptford candidate, Vicky Foxcroft, won by a huge majority, though smaller than in previous years – again, that was very much expected as almost every door I knocked on in this campaign had personal knowledge of her and her fantastic caseworkers. Watching Vicky’s acceptance speech the next day really brought home to me the extent of the devastation: she promised to her constituents that she would keep working hard to protect the local community in the face of five more years of Tory rule. And she promised that we will do everything we can to get a Labour Government.
It’s hard not to feel pessimistic if you believe in the values of the Labour Party. It’s hard also not to feel pessimistic as a Labour Party member if, like me, you believe in democracy. After two disastrous elections, our leadership is still finding it challenging to take responsibility, spouting out talking points about pride in the campaign we ran, and that actually there are so many things out there that we can blame for this electoral defeat that have nothing to do with us.
The argument seems to center around Brexit; although that clearly did play a huge part, I cannot deny the overwhelming evidence (both anecdotal and backed up by surveys) that the leadership was the primary cause. I’m sure there will be more analysis coming of the results, but it’s fair to say that voters did not like the way our message was delivered:
I am angry that my leader is not taking any responsibility for his part in all this. I am furious that he has not apologised to me and other members, many of whom have worked so hard to get a Labour Government. This is not how democracy works, where the principles of responsibility and accountability are paramount: if you want the responsibility of leadership, you better expect to be held to account for your actions. My disappointment at the result of the General Election is compounded by what I am seeing as signs of us descending into an acceptance of authoritarianism on both sides of the political debate: on the Conservative side, we have elected a Government that blatantly and unashamedly lies, on the Labour side, we continue to support a type of leadership that is happy to take control but then refuse to take responsibility when things go wrong.
The Labour Party is embarking on a new leadership contest. The current leadership are busy trying to promote the Corbyn Continuity Candidate, whoever that may be in the end, without realising that continuity is going to get us nowhere. Two defeats in a row with a loss of 60 seats suggest that the Corbyn project has failed (as far as elections are concerned – and let’s be honest, that’s what matters for people reeling from 10 years of austerity). It’s important that the Labour Party shows it understands the concerns voters have had with it.
If you haven’t been to a meeting in a while, please come and join – the next meeting will likely take place in the last week of January at the St Mary’s Centre. You can also join the debate on our closed Facebook group, and you can follow us on Twitter. It’s a difficult debate, but it needs to happen. If you’re thinking of joining after reading the above, please do!