Seven weeks ago the party looked on the brink of electoral destruction. It is hugely heartening that Labour didn’t just survive but moved forward, and everyone involved in the campaign deserves credit, from Jeremy Corbyn and the frontbench, through the PLP and new candidates, to grassroots activists. All sides of the party pulled together to achieve this result. Of course, the abysmal Tory campaign and weak Prime Minister helped us too!
As the network for Labour moderates, we hope that the spirit of unity and teamwork that characterised the election campaign will be carried forward by members from all wings of the party, and that the leadership will reach out and use the talents of all our MPs. Ensuring the pluralism of the party is respected, by for instance, returning to a Shadow Cabinet partly elected by the PLP would be a useful step forward.
Our focus is going to need to remain primarily external and focussed on taking the fight to the Tories as the hung parliament means there is a strong chance of another General Election in the near future.
Labour moved forward in seats, and more dramatically in vote share, on Thursday, so there is now a pathway – though a steep one - to a majority Labour government in terms of gain-able seats, including in Scotland, which did not look apparent in 2015. But we need to temper our relief and elation about these unexpected gains with awareness that there was a swing against us in many Midlands and Northern industrial heartland seats; our votes are not efficiently distributed around the country compared to the Tories because we stacked up “super majorities” in London and university town seats; and we need to gain at least 64 more seats, more than twice what we achieved on Thursday, to get a Labour Government with a majority of one. This requires us to make many more gains from the SNP in Scotland, and in England it requires us to take large numbers of traditional marginal seats which can only be done by taking votes direct from the Tories as it looks like we have already maximised the vote share we can obtain from mobilising previous non-voters. This is particularly the case now that we seem to have returned to almost a 1950s style two party system in England and Wales – small numbers of votes switching between Tory and Labour will deliver large numbers of seats. A good case study of where the current strategy triumphed and its limitations is the Kent and Essex Estuary seats. Canterbury, with its many students, was a stunning gain, but the 11 more working class seats on both sides of the Thames that had been Labour in 1997 and in many cases 2001 and 2005 as well were not gained, and in most cases have Tory majorities of about 10,000. We have to gain some of them to get a majority Labour government, and that will require a strategy that goes beyond the groups of voters appealed to this time.
We intend to contribute constructively to the debate about how we build on Thursday’s results and return Labour to government, and to continue to ensure that the voices of moderate party members are heard, that the rulebook is upheld and enforced, and that important policy positions that were maintained in the manifesto, such as Trident renewal, are stuck to. We will be intolerant of any sectarian antics from Momentum that distract or detract from the task of returning Labour to power. We will fight to keep Labour as a broad church democratic socialist party with many traditions within it, but that these do not legitimately include revolutionaries and entryists who are not democratic socialists.