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Tories Limp On But The Momentum Is All With Labour

12/06/2017 12:48 BST | Updated 12/06/2017 12:48 BST
ODD ANDERSEN via Getty Images

I crawled red eyed into bed shortly before dawn last Friday. Exhausted but optimistic for the future. The Tories still the largest party but their majority gone. Strong and stable? Do me a favour. This rickety, shambolic, broken government is limping towards election defeat in the not too distant future.

As for Corbyn he has confounded his critics. His critics inside the Labour Party. His critics in the 'liberal' media. His critics in the not so liberal media - the ones that invented a caricature of him as a scruffy loser with a fizzing stick of dynamite poking out of his back pocket.

He's also confounded me. While from Day One I'd been very sympathetic towards the direction in which he was leading the Labour Party, I also bought into some of the weak leader rhetoric which spewed torrent like from his opponents. Like many others I totally underestimated the measure of the man.

He ran a campaign based on hope. An anti austerity message with a commitment to invest in infrastructure and people. A message rooted in the desire for a more compassionate society. Sure, Theresa May's campaign will go down in British political history as one of the very worst. A feeble and uninspiring effort fuelled by hubris. But that shouldn't detract from Corbyn's bold campaign. His was one driven by passion and enthusiasm. The more people saw of Jeremy Corbyn the more they liked him. The more people saw of Theresa May the less they liked her.

Above all the Labour campaign has projected a vision that something much better is possible. A vision of a country that looks after its old and sick and invests in its young people and public services. A country that doesn't attempt to squeeze itself into khaki at the first opportunity in order to recreate its imperial past. A country that thinks very carefully before enmeshing itself chaotically and disastrously into the affairs of other sovereign states. A country that no longer deems it in any way appropriate to sell weapons to human rights abusers and global exporters of terrorism. A country that doesn't have to surrender its self respect by behaving like Donald Trump's poodle...

Jeremy Corbyn has made sure that arguments that were haughtily dismissed by our political masters two years ago are now firmly in the centre of the political mainstream. Tax evasion and avoidance. The crumbling NHS and education system. Failing (and expensive) privatised rail travel. Savage cuts to front line policing. The shocking disparity between top directors pay and that of the average worker. Corbyn and his team deserve enormous credit for putting these right at the forefront of UK political debate. They are once again part of the political orthodoxy. Just as they were for several decades in the post war era.

This election result is also a hard and very well deserved kick in the face for the Mail, Sun and other toxic reactionary propaganda rags. The outcome has seen them lose much of their power. Social media and people power has finally usurped the oppressive, deeply malign influence of Murdoch, Dacre and the Barclay brothers and the unadulterated crap that fills their titles.

So, what happens next?

Well, the Tories are about to jump into an alliance with the DUP - an unloveable bunch of time-warpers - who give off every impression that they still think it's 1690. Theresa May, of course, looks to be toast and given the Tory parties almost mechanical penchant for regicide it will be surprising if she's still in situ by the end of the summer. At this point there seems little prospect of a successor within the Tory ranks that would have any kind of broad electoral appeal either. What a shame.

As for Labour, their star is most certainly in the ascendancy. They have a leader who possesses that rarest of qualities in a politician - the ability to genuinely connect with young voters. They have a policy platform that has huge appeal and if (and, admittedly, it's a big 'if') those in the PLP who have expended so much time and energy undermining Corbyn for the past 2 years actually get fully behind him, then government is surely not too far away.

Finally, it's a curious thing to say but in many respects this election result was almost the ideal one for Labour. Heading a rainbow coalition going into Brexit negotiations with all of the deals and chicanery required to make political pacts work would have been extremely difficult and potentially massively damaging to the long term project. As it is the coming months will give Labour the time to properly unite and hone its policies and messages without diminishing Corbyn's authenticity. The Tory government is now holed below the water-line and has a desperately weak prime minister with a ruined reputation. There are lots of parallels with John Major's rudderless administration in the mid 1990s and we all know what happened to that.