Many of us have wept, raged, despaired and felt overcome with grief since that catastrophic exit poll was revealed last Thursday. The dust has hardly settled yet but I feel we need to start thinking about what happens next. My own experience has felt like a bereavement amd the future looks really quite frightening now. Like many others, by the time Thursday came I was both physically and mentally exhausted and not really in a good state to be hearing such bad news. My emotions have been chaotic and rapidly changing which I suppose is inevitable. But after feeling initially like giving up entirely on campaigning I have returned to wanting to fight again.
I think I am not alone in saying we must all have a rest, I know I certainly need it. But I really hope that after a rest we can come back fighting even harder than ever before. It is Christmas in just over a week’s time. Perhaps that will allow us all an opportunity to recover some strength and restore our battered spirits?
Corbynism was a movement not just the person we chose to lead the movement. We lost a battle, we will only lose the war if we just give up at this point. In the run-up to the election, although a lot of what I did I was doing on my own, I had a strong feeling that I was part of a huge movement. There was the usual Labour Party and others canvassing voters, but I was aware of so many other people campaigning in so many other ways. It was a fantastic feeling and one that allowed my hopes to build. Corbyn has gone but that movement remains.
Corbyn led the way in promoting a politics without any hatred. He was respectful, honest and showed great integrity. But, I have been alarmed by reading on social networks some people expressing thoughts that the traditional Labour voters who voted for the Tories this time are racist and stupid. If we ever believed in Corbyn then this hatred must stop.
I have been thinking a lot about how on earth working class people can vote Tory. I saw one Facebook post from a man who lives in Bolton this is what he said: “The Labour Party has taken our support for granted for years. My community has been left suffering for decades even when we had a Labour Government. I voted to leave the EU because they too have never helped us and it is just a gravy train. I felt betrayed by the Labour Party as they wouldn’t even honour the vote to leave. I know they were hoping to keep us in the EU by having another referendum when they had sorted out a deal for Brexit. I have supported them for years but they have never supported me.”
We really need to understand the lives of those people who are feeling so justifiably angry and lacking in trust for the Labour Party. Think about that family portrayed in Ken Loach’s film Sorry We Missed You. Both parents were faced with no options other than to continue working 15 hour days and accept pay that only kept their debts growing. There was no joy for that household, no rest, no hope just a system that was really abusing their rights. It’s hardly surprising that the Labour Party was not able to sell their message of hope to people who live in circumstances such as this.
As a campaign we need to reach those dissafected Labour voters, because ultimately we need a Labour Goverment if we are to save the NHS. I know I care too much about saving the NHS to just give up fighting for it now. I simply want to fight harder. We need the people around where I live in Hampden Park and in other areas to start joining in our campaign. We will continue to battle against a biased media and lies that will be told by the Tories and Lib Dems. If Labour succeeds in getting another leader who continues on a genuinely left wing approach they too will be smeared.
Scotland is certain to want another referendum on independence and it is likely that any vote would be a yes vote for independence. Under the terms of the Good Friday agreement Sinn Fein can request a referendum on the reunification of Ireland. We are likely to see the break up of the UK. Johnson has also talked about restricting the number of ‘people of colour’ who come to the UK. They have also talked about setting up an insurance based system for social care., which I am sure will not please the older voters who helped elect him.
I do not believe this Government will last another five years. The people who voted Tory may soon start experiencing a reality check which will show them why we campaigned for Labour. But in the meantime we must be mindful of why many working class people rejected Labour this time. We must not use any hateful language in our campaigning and we must do our best to keep the Labour Party left wing. And we need to be prepared for some very destructive changes to local NHS services.
Please have a rest, think hard about how this campaign can grow and develop. Come back in the new year with ideas and that positive spirit our campaign has always held. Thankyou so much for all you have done so far but please don’t give up now.