David Blackburn

Labour must recognise the scale of its defeat

Labour must recognise the scale of its defeat
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Will Straw was on the news this afternoon, arguing that Labour had lost only a small "doughnut" of seats around London and in the south. As John Rentoul notes, some doughnut: Labour was annihilated in England. David Cameron’s swift reform of the Conservative party was built on recognising the scale of defeat. Few on the Labour side have yet done so, including David Miliband, who clings to the spurious consolation that it could have been worse. In a piece for the Guardian, John Denham is candid about a share of the vote that was markedly lower than John Major’s in 1997:

‘Most obvious is just how catastrophic our defeat was. While neither the Conservatives nor the Lib Dems triumphed alone, large parts of England have little or no Labour representation, and our share of the vote in many regions was tiny. Records were broken on seats lost and swings suffered. An unfair electoral system and good results in Scotland gave us a lot of MPs, but can't disguise how badly we lost.’

Labour must reach that conclusion collectively if it is to recover. It will be interesting to see what Ed Balls says when he eventually declares his candidature for the leadership.