Labour Together's election review.

AuthorO'Rourke, Hannah

Labour Together convened a cross party commission to analyse why Labour lost the 2019 general election. We purposely designed our commission to be very different from those that had gone before. This wasn't about a single author with a predetermined view, but about establishing a shared political understanding of why Labour lost and what we must do to move forward. It was a political project as much as an analytical one.

This is why we sought to engage groups from across the movement (from Momentum to Progress), why our commissioners came from all parts of the party and why we had submissions from over 11,000 members and supporters to our survey. Rather than presenting a single viewpoint on our election loss, the review attempted to stitch together views from across the movement. Many different analyses from different factional standpoints contain some elements of truth. Yes, perception of Jeremy Corbyn was a major problem, but so too was Brexit. Yes, our policies were popular when considered individually, but as a complete package they failed to land. Our job with this review was to assemble a much fuller and deeper picture of our loss because, when it comes down to it, things really are more complicated. It is our failure to confront this difficult complexity and deeper problems which has arguably brought us to our current situation.

Put simply, our report found that we lost the 2019 general election in the short term because of Brexit fracturing our electoral coalition; because of negative perceptions of our leader; and because of a manifesto which, although individual policies were popular, was, as a package, unconvincing, as people did not believe that Labour could deliver such a sweeping set of policies.

These short-term factors catalysed much deeper, long-term structural shifts over the past twenty years, which have led to a decline in Labour's support. Our communities have shifted, our connections to voters have changed. Our presence in people's lives is diminished and, most importantly, the deeper movement and social infrastructure of our support base is dead and hollowed out. While much of this has been due to economic and social structural shifts that lie outside our control (class distributions changing, etc), it has also arisen from our inability to respond to such shifts.

As trade union membership declined as workplaces changed, what did Labour do? When we started to lose the social infrastructure that supported Labour in our...

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