…David Corbyn took on and felled Goliath May.
On 14 June, George Monbiot wrote an article in The Guardian: ‘The biggest losers? Not the Tories but the media who missed the story’.
Yes, if you live, like the media, in a hall of mirrors, you will only reflect not detect. Speaking with like minded people will yield no new insights.
The 2017 election was truly amazing. Labour had been in internal chaos merely months ago. The party was so weak that even the there-will-be-no-election Theresa May decided to call one to “strengthen her hand” in the upcoming Brexit talks. Few people had seen a greater Conservative lead in the polls. They stood on 44% on 17 April 2017; Labour on 24%. The outcome a forgone conclusion predicted the media.
But in the intervening seven weeks, the party which had been in chaos reared up like a Kraken from the deep and shocked everyone. The legendary creature that resembled a giant squid destroyed ships. Well, it destroyed her ladyship all right.
It wasn’t the economy, stupid. It was the harnessing of grass roots enthusiasm and that is difficult for the media to assess in an age which seems obsessed with the individual and personality. In front of the massed ranks of Philistines and Israelites, David Corbyn took on and felled Goliath May. But it was the individual foot soldiers, heartened both by their leader and May’s daily stumbles and U-turns, who turned the tide. They won Labour’s biggest poll swing since 1945. Momentum had 150 local groups, 20,000 members and 200,000 supporters, in addition Labour had it biggest membership in years at nearly 500,000, over three times that of the Conservatives. Foot soldiers matter.
In some constituencies, local parties were “overwhelmed with volunteers”. Text messages flew through the air waves. In Leeds North West, they had so many volunteers that they knocked on every door on the electoral register. Result? A 14% point swing to Labour replacing a 3000 Lib Dem majority with a 4000 Labour majority. The media doesn’t reach down to report on ordinary people.
No one has yet analysed the % swing versus the number of volunteers knocking on doors, but I’m sure there’s a good correlation.
Even in deepest West Wales, in Pembrokeshire Preseli, a few determined activists tramped through the streets and council estates for Welsh Labour, or Labour, or Corbyn. Their enthusiasm nearly won the day. 314 votes short on a vote up by 6574. If Momentum had been here to help, the slender gap would have closed and the sixteen-year Conservative rule would have been ended.
The lessons of the campaign are clear:
A good manifesto – hope over Brexit mumbo jumbo,
A nimble and personable David rather than a ponderous and distant Goliath,
The appreciation of the new means of communication – Snapchat, Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter – used so effectively by Trump – meant volunteers had facts on which to build arguments,
and the enthusiasm of supporters young and old to get voters to vote.
Newspapers are dying, people are fed up with the BBC. They don’t have the traction they once had. Their hall of mirrors approach and their focus on the individual – it’s so much easier to write about a person – rather than an emergent movement blind sided the Tories.
Prove my point, share this post, pass it on and let’s be ready, for May may stumble again.