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The Labour Leadership: Why Electability Matters

16/08/2015 21:17 BST | Updated 16/08/2016 10:59 BST

When I first saw the exit poll I was entering an Underground station and for the next thirty minutes my partner and I had nothing to do but let defeat sink in. It was a long journey for me but I can't imagine how devastated those most directly affected by Tory policy must have felt.

A person struggling to pay the Bedroom Tax, an overworked nurse, a victim of rising homelessness, a disabled person facing the rise in disability hate crime, a struggling family. All these people's lives could have been positively affected by a Labour victory.

I wonder how comforting it was for them to know that there were over a million Green Party voters who knew that given the current electoral system they couldn't win more than two seats (they only kept their one seat in the end) but felt that their principles counted more than helping others.

I'm not sure how those affected on the English side of the border would have felt watching the flag waving self-interest north of them; remember in Nationalist Socialism some people are more equal than others.

Then there are the millions of people who didn't bother to vote; they didn't feel like it would make a difference. Apparently it made no difference in '45, '79 or '97.

For all those 'principled' voters and non-voters I give a long, slow and deeply sarcastic handclap. You can complain that you had a choice between austerity and austerity-lite but you also had the choice between keeping or cancelling the Bedroom Tax.

By rejecting what you saw as austerity-lite you ensured austerity, like refusing to give a starving person half a sandwich because you feel they deserve a whole one, something you know you can't provide.

Don't get me wrong, Labour played its part as well in electoral defeat. It was never going to be easy trying to win a majority when being attacked on both flanks but it's hard to deny Labour made mistakes.

Yet there was a choice, the information was available, you were warned. Perhaps you just felt that 'hope' and revolutionary posturing were more important than actually making a difference.

Forgive the diatribe and the finger pointing but the result was a shock yet not one big enough that appears to have shaken sense into people. People are now even starting to question whether electability matters? I can only assume these people live very comfortable lives.

Sadly in the raging and impotent echo chamber of Twitter, the Corbynites have been swept up in the cybernat trap of ignorance, arrogance and idolatry. Ignorance of how our electoral system actually works, arrogance in claiming 'real Labour values' above decade old members and the idolatry of Jeremy Corbyn, a man whose credentials are no less questionable than any other candidate, if not more.

There has been no greater mimophant than these people as they furiously smear anyone who disagrees with them as a 'Red Tory' or 'Blairite' and then act like a delicate wallflower should anyone critique Jezza.

Corbyn has been attacked and smeared, and guess what, should he win it's not going to stop; it's only going to get worse. Is it wrong for other Labour members to attack him? Well he's been on the outside pissing in; when he enters the proverbial tent he can't expect not to get wet.

That's the thing, to win power and actually make a difference you have to take a good soaking. New Labour got pissed all over by the rest of the Left, often rightly, but meanwhile they brought in the minimum wage, reduced child poverty, redistributed wealth through tax credits, improved LGBT rights and massively invested in our crumbling health and education services. I await a list of achievements by the Greens, TUSC and any other of the backseat drivers of the Left.

Bizarrely I even see the virtue of compromise being questioned, as if peace in Northern Ireland had been brought about by a slanging match over social media. Was it not Labour legend Aneurin Bevan who talked of stuffing the Doctors mouths with gold to ensure the foundation of the NHS? Ultimately, only fascists don't compromise.

There are plenty of things I believe in, the abolishment of the monarchy and the banning of faith schools for starters, but these are electoral duds. Instead I take the long view, it would be like asking for the Equal Marriage before Homosexuality was even legalised.

Is it possible to win by shifting this far to the Left? Well, the research suggests not, history suggests not and our rivals suggest not. The complex situation in Scotland and one poll are not going to change this. So Corbyn supporters better be willing to fully join up and commit the next five years of their lives to proving me wrong.

Electability matters because people will suffer for your principles if Labour doesn't win in 2020. And if Corbyn wins? I'll suck it up, roll up my sleeves and get on with trying to win the next election because sometimes compromising your principles is the principled choice.