A myth is being created – that Labour lost the election because it was too left wing. The facts show quite the opposite.
On the most contentious issues (austerity and nuclear weapons), Labour and the Tories were agreed. On austerity, Labour pledged and voted to not restore any of the coalition’s cuts in government spending and on Trident renewal, Ed pledged (without a vote at a Labour Party Conference) that this would proceed regardless.
Whilst, during the final days of electioneering under pressure from the SNP in Scotland, Labour began to offer austerity-lite policies, these were matched by uncosted Tory promises to spend extra £billions on the NHS. This reinforced the public perception of ‘they’ll promise anything’.
What is most noteworthy about the election results is that candidates with long-standing left-wing credentials did consistently better* than those who merely repeated the official Labour Party policy.
Furthermore, the SNP vote, which was way above the “Yes” vote in the independence referendum, is only explicable if huge numbers of former Labour voters switched sides because the SNP targeted austerity and Trident.
It’s also obvious that the million+ extra votes for the Green Party included many former Labour voters attracted by their more progressive policies. This lost Labour several key seats (e.g. Gower).
UKIP was another feature of the election. Personally I feared they would do even better – given their near-saturation coverage in the visual media for the past 2 years and their support from the tabloid press. Both UKIP and the Tories can rely on this support – irrespective of what is or what is said to be Labour’s policies.
This media myth of “Red Ed” losing the election by promoting left-wing policies is part of a strategy to ensure that Labour becomes indistinguishable to the Tories in all but name.
Look out for more myth creation in the weeks to come.
* Ian Lavery, Dennis Skinner, Jeremy Corbyn, Dave Anderson, John Cryer, Kelvin Hopkins, John McDonnell, Paul Flynn, Fabian Hamiltonwere some of the left-wing candidates who did notably better than most Labour MPs. The only left-wing Labour losers (Katy Clark and Ian Hamilton) were in Scotland – where they were outflanked from the left by the SNP.