As we face another 5 years of right-wing government, with the promise of £12bn of cuts to be levied on both working-age people still receiving state benefits and 4 of the 12 beds at the NHS hospital risking closure, it’s hard to even be entertained by The Happy, Happy, Buy, Buy, Buy Show on Sky Mandatory. Instead I find myself trying to work out where things went wrong for Labour in 2020.
I suppose that, like Nigel Farage’s ill-fated belief that he could return from the dead, the seed for Labour’s very public splat on the tarmac outside the Houses of Parliament was sown in the 2015 election. If you’re too young to remember that year, or if you’re one of the many millions of victims of Tim Farron’s memory-erasing experiments, Labour went in to the election blooming with optimism that they’d come a close enough 2nd to form a rag-tag left-of-centre government with the Lib Dems, the Greens, 5 ringers pretending to be Sinn Fein MPs and George Galloway on the promise of a crack at being education minister. Ah, how innocent their dreams seem now.
Their defeat at the hands of former Prime Minister (now chairman of HealthPay UK), David Cameron, led to the resignation of Labour leader Ed Miliband and an ill-fated leadership contest. For reasons that have largely been obscured by Farron’s neural rewriter and the Great UKIP Internet Purge of ’16 the main campaign battlegrounds were Labour agreeing to make the poor poorer, Labour accepting blame for things that weren’t really their fault, Labour accidentally printing right-wing slogans on mugs, then accidentally distributing them, then accidentally pretending they were party policy, bacon sandwich eating and the monolith from 2001: A space odyssey.
None of this makes much sense now, but what we do know is that four candidates rose up to do battle for the Labour leadership; one who believed the party was too far right, one who believed the party was too far left and two who thought that was an excellent question and they were committed to delivering a full and satisfying answer when they were party leader.
What followed next we all remember too well…except those of us getting our water from one of the supplies that Farron got his hands on…the first border skirmishes, troops being withdrawn from France to lay siege to tartan-occupied Carlisle, Cameron and Osborne having to resign after their Weekend at Bernie’s shenanigans during the Queen’s speech, the forced abdication of Charles III by forces loyal to The Express and the great American implosion.
In all of that the missed vote on the Labour leadership was background noise, the drawing up of battle-lines relegated to page 7. Before we knew it it was a period of civil war, rebel MPs, striking from a secret Islington base, had won their first victory against the evil Blairite empire and as 2015, became 2016 and then 2017 across the country red fought red and pink fought green. Ordinary hard-work families huddled in their homes, scared that not knowing the expected answer to, “What should the minimum wage be?” or “What’s your stance on immigration?” may earn them a vicious de-bearding or a beating with a condom full of low-fat yoghurt. By the time Sunderland became Frankieboylistan in November 2018 nobody was really sure if the outed MP had been Real Labour, Red Labour, Nu Labour or Just Fucking Labour, although all sides denied responsibility when Tom Watson ran into the Bridges shopping centre wired up with 20lbs of Semtex.
In late 2019 when Labour’s spiritual king, Neil Kinnock, returned to these shores to take charge we really began to feel that things might work out OK. The Labour parties buried their differences, and their thousands of dead, formed the Just Fucking Nu-Red-Labour alliance and gathered together to sing ‘We shall not be moved’ and play games of ‘Pin the eyebrows on Alistair Darling’. Even though the BBC was gone all was not well for the right; the Leftie Wars had reduced immigration to almost nothing, half of all remaining NHS staff had been killed when the motorbike they were on crashed into a fox hunt, the chancellor had been turned down for a Capital One credit card, the average house price in London was up to 78% of GDP and Katie Hopkins kept shouting about how she was voting for Boris Johnson and wouldn’t shut up. Now was the hour of the left!
Huddled here now, as the UKIP cyborgs, under the control of Sky-TVnet, sweep the area for lefties, liberals and poofs I think I can see where it all went wrong. If only those who opposed the dehumanising right hadn’t been so keen to vilify each other (as well as the matador), if only there’d been less hatred between them and more willingness to understand those who leant to the left, or to the right, or to unspecified, if only they’d been willing to be friends with difference, but with mutual respect and the spirit to say that, whoever won that damn contest, that they’d fall in behind them and make their Labour party one that could have taken on the Tories in 2020.
But they didn’t and I have to go now, something is knocking at my door.