Rod Liddle Rod Liddle

Caroline Flint could have beaten Boris

There were not many moments of gloom on election night. I spent most of it, so far as I can recall, in a state of inebriated euphoric gloating — enhanced by the fact that I had hitherto been extremely worried about the outcome. Winning goals are always the most enjoyable when scored, unexpectedly, in injury time. In this case, the exit poll at ten o’clock, a little later confirmed by the equivalent of VAR, Blyth Valley going blue. And then Stockton South — even the local Tories, whom I know well, had not expected to win.

From then on it was a mirth fest, reaching its apogee when the fabulously witless Labour MP Richard Burgon was wheeled out to explain the debacle, which he did in the manner of a village idiot attempting to explain the theory of relativity. But there was one moment of sadness, late on — the result from Don Valley, an emotional Caroline Flint evicted after 22 years. You may not have mourned, but I did. For a bit, at least.

I think it remains the case that had Caroline Flint been the party leader, it would be Labour, not the Tories, now enjoying an 80-seat majority in the House of Commons. This is not simply because she is a much more intelligent — and principled — politician than Magic Grandpa, although that undoubtedly helps. It is because the policies would have been very different — firstly on Brexit, for Flint was insistent that the wishes of the majority be respected, but in more general terms, too. Londoner she may be, but Flint is also a social democrat, convinced that her party exists to help the poorest in society and reduce inequality, rather than as a conduit for infantile agitprop attitudinalising.

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