The post-election analysis within Labour seems to be thinking that it was all about Brexit. If only the party had done whatever it was that the voters actually wanted on the subject then they’d have been home free and clear:
The party’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, wrote to the national executive committee to say a full timetable for the leadership contest would be agreed, with a recommended start date of 7 January.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and Richard Burgon, the shadow justice secretary, threw their weight behind their long-term ally Rebecca Long-Bailey for the top job while blaming Brexit for the party losing support across the north and Midlands.
With endorsement from the Corbynite wing of the party, Long-Bailey is now the favourite for the job even though she has not formally declared her candidacy.
One problem here is that Brexit wasn’t a problem easy for them to solve. For they’re performing a straddly. Those working class ex-industrial seats which vote Labour tribally – or did until recently. Sure, they’re largely leave and being soft on Brexit meant losing at least some of them. But being hard for leave would have pissed off large chunks of the other part of the party, the metropolitan luvvie types. For whom the goodness and obviousness of the EU is as much a core belief as the other part of the party’s inherent knowledge that all Tories are bastards.
There’s not really a policy straddle that will cover both positions.
The other problem is Overton Window territory:
The metropolitan Labour Party lost contact with, perhaps stopped listening to, that bedrock vote. There was an issue large enough that people would change those tribal votes. It’s not all that different from the manner that Trump won those union votes out in flyover country.
In English terms, the change has been extraordinary. A Conservative elected to represent Bolsover, as has just happened, is as if Washington, D.C., elected a white Republican as mayor.
That tribal vote switched, at least in part. And the roof’s not going to fall in, we’re not going to have plagues of frogs and rains of blood. The world will continue to advance in some manners, turn to shit in others, at roughly the same pace as before.
That is, once a shibboleth has been broken it remains broken. Those northern industrial seats are now in electoral play forever. And it’s not going to be playing around with Brexit that wins them back but rather more attention being paid to the desires of those voters and rather less to the metropolitan concerns of gender, race and all that malarkey.
The base coalition that was Labour is breaking, if not already broken.