Leaked report by Labour into party’s election failure blames Brexit and the media – not Jeremy Corbyn
A leaked internal report by Labour into the party’s dismal election performance last month has blamed it on Brexit and “unprecedented” media attacks on Jeremy Corbyn.
The leader is effectively exonerated by the official review into the result, which was their worst since 1935.
The document, seen by the Financial Times, says it would be “unrealistic” not to put the loss of 60 seats down to the dominance of the UK’s exit from the European Union over politics in the past two years.
Written by Labour’s election co-ordinators Andrew Gwynne and Ian Lavery, it was reportedly circulated at a meeting of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee on Tuesday.
It said the Brexit position the party eventually settled on - that Labour would support a second referendum between remain and a re-negotiated deal - was “largely unsuccessful, not least since in many areas it was seen as branding Labour as a preponderantly a ‘remain’ party”.
Authors Mr Gwynne, the shadow communities secretary, and Mr Lavery, the party chairman, were the two strongest voices against another vote on Britain’s EU membership in the shadow Cabinet.
And their analysis is critical of other senior party figures who came out saying they would campaign for remain regardless of what the other option would be.
The report also appeared to blame previous party leaders, including Tony Blair, who led the party to three majority election victories, for the loss of seats in its so-called ‘red wall’ traditional heartlands.
It read: “In many of the long-held constituencies that we lost, in former coalfields above all, Labour’s vote and our share of the vote had been declining throughout the last six elections, with the exception of 2017.”
The document also dismisses any criticism of the manifesto and Mr Corbyn, saying their identical agenda was attacked in 2017 with “comparable venom, yet Labour secured the biggest increase in its share of the vote since 1945”.
It added: “It is unlikely that radicalism was in itself the problem in a country looking for change.”
Instead the media is blamed for harming Mr Corbyn’s chances of becoming prime minister, saying: “There is also little doubt that four years of unrelenting attacks in the character of the Party leader, an assault without precedent in modern politics, had a degree of negative impact.”
And the seat-targeting strategy at the election was also defended, saying many of those that were lost had received high levels of support.
It adds: “It would not appear that having a different targeting strategy would, within the resources the party had available, have secured a very different overall outcome.”
But there is criticism of the way the party’s election pledges were rolled out on the campaign saying: “It’s clear that too many polices were launched on an almost daily basis.
“This confused the public as to our sense of priorities and disorientated activists, who were not always clear what the essential message was to be promoted on the doorstep.”
It adds that “the pledges cumulatively appeared implausible to significant sections of our target voters”.
In response Labour MP and former leadership hopeful Jess Phillips tweeted: “Statistics can be cut up any way you like them to prove your argument.
“How is it that seat like mine which voted leave at higher rate (5% higher) than Lavery's seat for example, the Labour vote stayed almost exactly the same?
“Brexit played a part no doubt but it was not alone.”
A spokesperson for Labour said the party did not comment on leaked documents.