What now?

Sorry, this is a long one.

First: congrats to everyone who campaigned for Labour. There were two things the pundits underestimated: obviously the young who were way more enthusiastic for him than Miliband. But also the perennial protest vote, which went Clegg’s way in 2010, and UKIP’s in 2015, and now finds itself back at Labour’s feet. Without the power that leads inevitably to disappointment, they ought to hold on to those votes next time around. But they need more.

A party need two qualities to win a General Election: the first is the better leader. By the end of this campaign, Corbyn had clearly caught up with May in the popularity stakes, and in my view beat her. Say what you like about his foreign policy (and leaving aside Trident, a subject I pray we never have a referendum on), it’s no worse than May’s. Which leaves him pipping her to the post thanks to his authenticity/ability to interact with the public.

But he still lost thanks to the other prerequisite: trust on the economy. The difficulty with this is that it’s as much about the incumbent government as the opposition. Governments tend to change hands only after a spectacular cock-up. It happened in 2010 when the Conservatives persuaded just enough of the British public that Labour were at fault for the recession. And it happened in 1997 thanks to the Exchange Rate Mechanism snafu which occurred mere months after the Tories were re-elected in 1992. Only after that were Labour able to convince voters they were the competent alternative.

Once you’ve burnished your economic credentials it’s a waiting game. Luckily for Corbyn and the Labour Party, the ingredients for the next cock-up – most likely a terrible Brexit deal – were measured up and laid out on the kitchen counter before the election was even called, and now they’re all over the floor. It’s now the Tories’ job to sweep up what they can and start cooking, and given their habit for fucking up the electoral equivalent of boiling an egg, I’m not looking forward to mealtime.

Labour now needs to demonstrate to the public that its leadership really is strong and it has the skills – and maturity – to manage a large economy. That will involve its MPs burying the hatchet and Corbyn bringing in a bunch of talented moderates to his Shadow Cabinet. It’s clear that for the next election much of his agenda will be staying put, but in order to win over the still-sceptical Corbys, Colchesters and Chingfords – the only route to Number 10 – the party must now draw on the whole labour movement to make a robust case for its policies, and be tenacious in its scrutiny of the government. If there’s anything the Tories have taught Labour it’s that you need both unity and ruthlessness. And to be fair, the party displayed both during the campaign.

The Tories meanwhile. Why would they call another election if Labour is on the front foot and the upshot is likely to be yet more losses? If you replace May, you’ll need a Ruth Davidson with a seat in Westminster or a Stephen Crabb with a majority larger than 300.

Another problem the Tories have is relying on the DUP. The Labour party’s attack lines are already writing themselves: “coalition of chaos”, women’s rights, LGBT rights, climate change, the basic stability of Northern Ireland.

In relation to Northern Ireland and the peace process, the Tories are already up to their navels in effluent. If I were them I’d be figuring out what to offer Sinn Fein in return for taking their seats because frankly a power-sharing arrangement out of Westminster is probably the only way this is going to work. Fuck it, if Parliament needs renovating and Stormont is empty, why not do a swap?

Two final things:

I can’t wait for Tony Blair’s next intervention.

If anyone is planning to reshuffle their frontbench teams any time soon, here’s a few suggestions.

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