Thursday’s results surprised the pollsters, the media and almost everyone really, including me. I complained about local members being directed to Reading East because there was no hope of overturning a Tory majority of 6,520. In fact Labour won, and Matt Rodda is the new MP! So congratulations to returning and newly-elected MPs and thanks to Jeremy Corbyn for his barnstorming roadshow, and to the candidates, volunteers and staff who worked so hard, many in hope rather than expectation.
Unlike 2010, 2015 and 2016 we have not, thank heaven, been pitched into yet another leadership election, and can build a new unity while the Tories squabble and UKIP disappears into irrelevance. This requires goodwill on all sides, and MPs have a particular responsibility to follow the golden rule that if you can’t say something positive, keep quiet.
Something is happening here, but I don’t know what it is …
In 2015 we failed to take key marginals despite huge amounts of time and money. In 2017, by contrast, we won seats which were not on any target list, with little extra support. To add enough MPs to put Labour back into government, we need to understand what works and what doesn’t. Please send your experiences to me at email@example.com, from wherever you live, and I will read and reflect on them all.
Looking ahead, I’ve already been asked what happens if the Theresa May / DUP coalition disintegrates and there is a second election this year. The NEC promised that across-the-board imposition of candidates in April was an extraordinary once-only measure, and I will explore how choice will be restored to local parties. I will also try to find out whether the boundary review steams ahead regardless.
The NEC is not scheduled to meet until 18 July, but there will be an officers’ meeting on 19 June and subcommittee meetings on 4 July. As always you’re welcome to send questions and comments any time.