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Labour and Jeremy Corbyn veered to the left - and brought a historic defeat?

PUBLISHED: 04:45 13 December 2019 | UPDATED: 15:43 13 December 2019

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn waits for  the result to be given at Sobell Leisure Centre for the Islington North constituency Picture: JOE GIDDENS/PA WIRE

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn waits for the result to be given at Sobell Leisure Centre for the Islington North constituency Picture: JOE GIDDENS/PA WIRE

The 2019 General Election will go down in history books as hugely significant - it is the election that saw many of Labour's heartland seats fall to the Conservatives.

Boris Johnson will be basking in the knowledge that he has won a landslide majority. But in effect this election was one that Labour lost - and their leadership has to take responsibility for that landslide defeat.

Jeremy Corbyn was toxic on doorsteps across the country. And while some Labour supporters insist that their party's leaders have always received criticism, I have never, ever found so much criticism as I've heard of Mr Corbyn over the last few weeks.

Yes, people may have laughed at Ed Miliband pulling a funny face when eating a bacon sandwich - but that was nothing compared with their dislike of Mr Corbyn over the anti-semitism in his party, over his world view and apparent reluctance to support NATO, and his early career which saw him working with Irish Republicans during the Troubles.

Senior Labour figures from Ipswich were incensed about their party's national campaign - they felt that its message over Brexit was confusing for voters and that its policies were not popular on the doorstep.

But it was the character of the leader that was the real problem for him. Many want to see a total change of direction from the party - and are not pleased to hear Mr Corbyn plans to stay on to oversee the transfer of authority to a new leader.

If that does happen - and the Corbynistas at the top of the Labour Party these days may well go along the blessed leader's wishes - it could be the death-knell for the party as a serious challenger for government.

Already Mr Corbyn's acolytes like Ian Lavery, Richard Burgon and Dan Carden have been parading the myth that the election loss was all about Brexit and the wicked media.

That is nonsense. Labour needs to listen to those who were on the doorstep in natural Labour constituencies - like former Stowmarket student Gareth Snell who lost in Stoke on Trent, Alan Johnson who was a hugely-respected cabinet minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and (dare I say it) Alastair Campbell who knew a thing or two about winning elections.

Labour lost because it had a far-left leader peddling a far-left manifesto and the ordinary British voter that the party needed to win simply wasn't having it!

The Conservatives will be claiming that their landslide is a justification of Boris Johnson's style - but in truth this was an election with far more people voting against a party and an individual rather than voting for someone.

There will now be a perception that Mr Johnson will be leading a government aiming to "Get Brexit Done" - but how that will go down with voters when there are further long-term talks with the EU over trade deals and still some European rules in place until this time next year?

But it is the Labour Party that now needs to take a long, hard look at itself in the wake of this result. Does it want to remain an extreme left-wing pressure group coming up with policies that delight its true believers but repel the majority of voters?

Or does it want to embrace the moderate social democrats that have always been the bedrock of its support when it has actually won power?

Only time will tell which direction it is going to head in over the next five years.

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