Boris Johnson’s general election win was precipitated by a series of mistakes by people who refused to compromise and are now about to discover the consequences, writes Brian Wilson.
The General Election result was spectacular but unsurprising. It reflected pretty much where things stood when Boris Johnson was allowed to call it seven weeks ago.
Taking a longer view, it reflected the inevitable destination for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour. That fate was delayed two years ago but the same landslide was not going to be dodged twice. He was, quite simply, unelectable.
The outcome is a landmark in British politics brought about, I would contend, by three threads of stupidity promoted by those now in the forefront of hand-wringing about the horror of it all.
Modesty does not prevent me pointing out that each has been chronicled and warned against in this column. However, the zeal of those who led us here made them wilfully deaf to all warnings. Well, they ken noo.
Pride of place in the catalogue of catastrophe goes to the Labour Party which within a decade has turned itself from natural party of progressive government into an embarrassing shambles, incapable of delivering anything for the people who need it.
Heaping opprobrium on Corbyn, who was hopelessly debilitated from the outset by past associations, is to miss most of the point. This is a wreck that has been much longer in the making.
Brown begat Miliband and Miliband begat Corbyn. The same people who, in 2010, used their thuggish political muscle to install unelectable Ed for the most negative motives triggered the train of events. Thursday was as much Len McCluskey’s day of reckoning as Corbyn’s.
Less smart than they assumed
If Labour had taken a different course at that time there would probably have been no Brexit, Corbyn or Johnson. It is Labour’s failure to fulfil its first duty that has led to all of this. That duty is to be electable.
The second route to a rout was led by those who refused to compromise with the 2016 referendum result.
They proved much less smart than they assumed themselves to be and that campaign finally hit the rocks it has long been heading for.
Again, Labour bears heavy responsibility for turning its back on Leave voters. Having failed to campaign effectively to stay in the EU, Labour should have stuck to accepting the result unequivocally and making the best of it.
It should have negotiated and then backed the best available version of Theresa May’s deal – in which case there would have been no “no-deal”, no Boris Johnson and no election. Instead, it went for a fudge which lacked credibility and has paid a huge price.
The third act of gross stupidity came from the Liberal Democrats when they offered Johnson the election he was desperate for at the time of his choosing. It has handed him the majority he did not previously possess.
The Lib Dems’ behaviour flowed from two puzzling presumptions – that Jo Swinson would prove a popular leader while their undemocratic promise to undo Brexit at the stroke of a pen would enthuse the masses. Instead, their rank opportunism has given us a Tory government and Ms Swinson her P45.
Of course, the SNP was complicit in facilitating this unnecessary election. In their case, it can hardly be called an act of stupidity since it has given them their dream outcome – electoral dominance in Scotland and a Tory Government at Westminster which can be railed against for the next five years. Stopping Brexit was always a slogan rather than their objective.
Their 48 MPs will make a lot of noise while delivering nothing for Scotland other than more division and constant demands for another referendum. On that matter however, the dial has scarcely moved and there isn’t going to be one any time soon.
Sturgeon has performed to stereotype by seeking votes about Brexit and then immediately claiming them for something else. It was not “indyref2” on the side of her bus.
The common factor among those three explanations of why we are facing five years of Boris Johnson is that none of the perpetrators cared enough about pre-empting that outcome to make the necessary accommodations when required. Now we will all discover the consequences.