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Labour Is Building Towards A Historic Majority - And Corbyn Showed Us How

16/06/2017 17:05
Matt Cardy via Getty Images

There is not a humble pie in the world big enough to feed all the commentators and MPs who said Corbyn's Labour Party would not amount to anything. Labour hasn't won a Commons majority, yet. However Labour's advances under Corbyn's leadership combined by endemic Tory divisions reveal our road back to government.

Six weeks ago at the start of the election I wrote for the Huffington Post that Corbyn's new kind of politics provided Labour with a winning formula that other Parliamentary Candidates should follow. Having won in Derby North it's vital that this formula be revisited and solidified.

The Midlands represents one of Labour's major weak spots. All four seats lost by Labour are here: the Tories took North East Derbyshire, Mansfield (virgin Tory territory), Stoke-on-Trent South (likewise) and Walsall North. That means winning in this region should be of interest to everyone in the Party.

So how did we do it? At its most simplistic our winning formula in Derby North was two fold. First, Labour's manifesto is the best manifesto this country has seen since 1945. It's power comes not from timeless principles (for or against the free market, for example) but through its fit as a plan to rebuild Britain after years of austerity in much the same way as Labour rebuilt the UK after the War.

Second, Corbyn's new kind of politics are roomy enough to accommodate a broad political coalition. The swing of UKIP voters to the Conservatives appears to have been a significant force driving Tory advances. However on the doorstep, UKIP voters will often give Jeremy Corbyn a fair hearing. Many in my experience are happy to hear that Labour has returned to its true values: sticking up for the ordinary person against the elites. As I wrote six weeks ago, Labour's task should be to put clear red water between former UKIP voters and the Conservatives.

At the same time, the Corbyn factor has attracted tens of thousands of younger voters into the party. These voters have no memory of the left-right divisions that have plagued Labour in its long history. For them, a vote for Labour is not a question of left or right, it's a question of right and wrong.

These younger voters now form a fundamental backbone of our Party. As well as turning out to vote (against expectations) they have turned out to canvass both online and on the doorstep, most often being organised through Momentum. It came as a surprise to me to find that one younger activist in Derby North had set up a Chris Williamson fan page, for example.

So what next, what have we learnt in this election and what can Labour do in places like Mansfield? To make more advances in the Midlands and elsewhere Labour must promote fierce and straight talking candidates. We need a new crop of politicians who are not shy about Corbyn's anti-austerity manifesto and who possess an unwavering drive to take on the Tory establishment.

Ben Bradley, the current Tory MP for Mansfield, was pictured celebrating outside the count with champagne, whilst in his constituency child poverty is running at an incredible 22.7%. That poverty has been caused by his Party, from the point at which they violently closed the mines right through to the endless pumping of money into the City of London at a cost to the real economy.

With strong candidates and a message of hope will follow Labour's energised and young activist base. At the same time, the diversity of youth culture and cosmopolitan values must be nurtured in areas that have been left behind. Labour must dust off its early encounter with post-War social movements when initiatives promoting diversity and equal rights were written off by the Tory establishment as the "loony left".

As Theresa May forms a coalition of chaos with the socially regressive DUP the mask of progress adorned by the Conservatives under Cameron and Osborne is slipping. A forward looking Labour Party that ties anti-establishment politics to the young sprit of hope and progress in this country stands only to gain.

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