Labour's crushing defeat in last Thursday's election is the party’s worst performance since 1935. It is undoubtedly an ideological watershed, a political upheaval on a par with the 1945 Labour victory of the reforming post-war party under Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher's 1979 victory marking the ascendency of hard-nosed Conservatives.
Commentators were forced to consult the history books to seek comparisons and context. Boris Johnson's Conservatives won constituencies that have been solidly Labour for generations. To take just one example: Blyth Valley, a former mining area in the northeast, swung ten percent away from Labour to elect its first Conservative representative since the constituency was created in 1950.
– Sam Freedman tweet
1997 vs 2019. pic.twitter.com/COrggVpMod
— Sam Freedman (@Samfr) December 14, 2019
Undoubtedly one major factor was Labour's ambivalence on Brexit, despite the public's desire for clarity and an end to uncertainly – and this was certainly the Labour party line in post-election interviews.
But a significant and widely cited poll challenges this: for 43 percent of the electorate, Corbyn’s leadership was their main reason not to vote Labour with Brexit trailing at 17 percent, and Labour's economic policies at 12 percent.
Even deep within Labour's "red wall" of what were believed to be eternally loyal constituencies, Corbyn was widely regarded as unsuitable to be prime minister. What partly contributed to that belief was the perception that he was both unwilling and incapable of resolving the party's entanglement with anti-Semitism.
– Opinium poll
We asked voters why they had not voted for particular parties in our on the day poll (12th December). For Labour the key issue was the leadership. pic.twitter.com/pu7iBWDp94
— Opinium (@OpiniumResearch) December 13, 2019
The Jewish community itself has fought an astute campaign against the spreading racism on the Left, fuelled by Jeremy Corbyn's political baggage over the last 40 years.
Unearthing his embarrassing utterances in the past has become a veritable cottage industry for bloggers and pundits – and there was certainly an unending supply. Some of the comments and assertions were indeed crude at times, flavored by propaganda, but then again, such campaigns are never aimed at providing intellectual satisfaction.