We got it wrong. Now we must have the soul-searching and honest debate we have perhaps avoided too long
Posted on 8 May 2015 | 8:05am
After yesterday’s very long blog, today a very short one, admitting that I was wrong. Not wrong in thinking Labour SHOULD win, but clearly wrong in thinking we would.
Sometimes, when advising people I work with, I will say beware the dangers of being so deep inside your own team’s bubble that you end up believing your own propaganda and lose sight of what is really happening.
That does appear, looking back at what I have been saying in recent days and weeks, to have happened this time to me, and many others. But it really did seem, looking not just at the polls but also Labour’s own data and my own instinct going around the UK, that the Tories would not get a majority, and that Ed Miliband could end up as PM as a result.
There is no point pretending that this is anything other than a disastrous result, yes especially in Scotland, but in England too.
Perhaps one of the reasons we are in this position is because we took so long to elect a new leader after Gordon Brown lost in 2o1o that we allowed the Tories to frame the politics surrounding the economy for the entire Parliament, and we did not rebut their attacks on our overall record with sufficient clarity or vigour, nor have arguments and policies able to build a coalition of support across the centre and the left of the political spectrum. Likewise clearly whatever strategies we thought we had for dealing with the nationalist surge in Scotland, they were not adequate.
But whereas I thought we took too long to elect a leader last time, perhaps the debate about the party’s future this time should be even longer. Because perhaps one of our problems is that we did not in reality have the debate that we should have had, with ourselves and with the public, from the moment Tony Blair made way for Gordon Brown.
After a result as awful as this, there has to be real deep soul-searching, and honest analysis about how and we have gone from being a Party identified as the dominant force across UK politics over a decade and more, to where we are today.
These are not questions that can, or should, be answered in a hurry.