The 2015 General election result would have come as a devastating disappointment to many people across our country, the people who find themselves trapped in the merciless, unfair and punitive bedroom tax, the million people who find themselves having to turn to food banks for food in Britain the fourth richest country in the World, hardworking people working all hours god sends, some even doing 2 or even 3 jobs to put food on the table but are still struggling to make ends meet and those people who find themselves employed on exploitative zero-hours contracts. The people who believed Britain needed a Labour Government would have been dismayed even devastated at the result and there were of course those Labour activists who were biting their nails when that exit poll was released at 10PM on election night putting the Conservatives ahead.
As a Labour movement we need to have an open honest debate about why we lost, where we went wrong and why some people didn’t want a Labour Government, why the British people didn’t believe that we spoke for them. I believe we need to face up to our failures in order to change for the future. I believe we lost because we spoke a lot about those at the top of society and those at the bottom but we didn’t really speak about those in the middle, that squeezed middle that we spoke a lot about at the start of the parliament we didn’t speak so much about towards the end going into the election. We were too specific on certain policies that only affected a small minority when we needed a message to appeal to the wider population that we were for them, we spoke for them and we understood their lives.
We allowed ourselves to be bullied into a corner by the Conservatives over our economic record in Government and we didn’t do anything to fight those claims despite the former governor of the Bank of England saying the financial crash was not Labour’s fault. Furthermore we became victims of two forms of nationalism, Scottish nationalism that suggested vote SNP; get Labour and English nationalism from the Conservative Party that suggested if you vote Labour, you would somehow get the SNP. I believe we underestimated the rapid rise of UKIP and the insurgence of the Greens.
The polls for so long were predicting a collapse in the Liberal Democrat vote, albeit they weren’t predicting a collapse on the scale that we saw but we the Labour party wrongly assumed that disillusioned Liberal Democrat voters would automatically come to Labour by default and in believing so we failed to provide a compelling case to those Liberal Democrat voters as to why they should come home to Labour. We stood by and allowed the Conservative Party to benefit from the collapse of the Liberal Democrats which along with the rise of the SNP in Scotland helped the Conservative party obtain its majority.
Moving forward rather than engaging in a blame game as to who’s shoulders the blame for the defeat lies, I believe the next Leader of the Labour Party needs to recognise these failures. It is only by recognising failure that we understand and recognise the need to change so we can reach out to all parts of our country and be a serious party of government again.
I passionately believe that the Labour party are the greatest movement in the world for social justice, and Britain does truly need a Labour movement more now, than ever before.
Usman Ahmed, May 25th 2015 ©
Usman Ahmed will be familiar to many Arundel & South Downs Labour members. Having been shortlisted for our PPC selection process, Usman impressed members by giving a passionate performance at our hustings in February. Despite finishing as close runner up on that occasion, Usman was recently elected as councillor for Leegomery ward on Hadley District council in May 2015.