by Chris Williamson
The outcome of the local elections last month saw Labour’s tally fall just 18 short of the number of seats won in 2012.
That was a remarkable achievement given the run-up to the elections could hardly have been any worse.
Labour’s internal arguments inevitably dominated the headlines as prominent malcontents seemed determined to systematically sabotage the party’s election campaign.
The worst, but by no means the only, offender was John Mann, whose stage-managed outburst against Ken Livingstone gave the hostile newspapers the perfect excuse to focus on Labour’s travails.
These Labour renegades are small in number, but big in terms of their connections in the media.
The Westminster hacks have been lapping up the on- and off-the-record briefings from people who can’t seem to accept the democratic decision of Labour Party members to elect Corbyn as leader.
Some Labour MPs were so convinced that the outcome of the elections was going to be disastrous for the party that they couldn’t wait to give TV and newspaper interviews.
But they were left with egg on their faces after saying the results were terrible when the reality was somewhat different.
Labour secured virtually the same number of council seats as Ed Miliband’s high water mark in 2012, had the second best ever result in Wales and won the London and Bristol mayoral contests.
Labour also did well in the police and crime commissioner elections too, gaining Cheshire, Leicestershire and Humberside.
Regrettably the meltdown in Scotland was as bad, if not worse than expected, but the seeds for Labour’s Scottish demise were sown years ago, long before Corbyn was elected leader.
Of course Labour’s poor showing in Scotland depressed its overall vote share, but we still finished ahead of the Tories in the popular vote; and won more council seats than the Tories, Lib Dems, Ukip and Green Party put together.
In my own city of Derby, we did lose some ground to Ukip and the Tories, but still retained control of the council.
We lost two seats by very narrow margins, but these could have been won, were it not for the shenanigans of certain senior members of the party. John Prescott has aptly described these characters as “Bitterites.”
Labour does need to do better, but the efforts of activists all over the country ensured that we triumphed over adversity.
It demonstrated the importance of having motivated members on the ground to take Labour’s message of hope to the voters.
Talk of a coup against Jeremy has now subsided, but that isn’t sufficient.
Every member, particularly MPs, has a duty to speak up for the party and stop undermining our electoral prospects by incessantly criticising our leader.
The Conservative Party is in turmoil over Europe and 18 Tory MPs are under investigation for electoral fraud.
The Electoral Commission took action in the High Court to force the Tories to reveal documents detailing the spending on battle buses ahead of the 2015 general election.
For good measure the newly elected Tory police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall is implicated too.
These “Bitterites” should be turning their fire on the Tory Party, not on their own side.
When Labour is united we are a formidable electoral force. Just imagine how much better we could have done in these local elections if the tiny minority of well-placed malcontents had held their tongue, or better still actually promoted the party?
Jeremy has pledged “ambitious and bold” policies to beat the Tories in 2020. He has said he will make “big promises” on issues including jobs, housing and the environment.
These and other issues that secured Jeremy’s landslide victory in the Labour leadership contest last year are the selfsame issues that the British public are crying out for.
Jeremy set the scene for the sort of opposition Labour needs to become when he systematically demolished the Conservative Party’s programme, and its record in government, when he responded to the Queen’s Speech in the House of Commons.
The prize of a progressive Labour government, led by Jeremy Corbyn, is there for the taking. It’s time for everyone in the party to pull together to fulfil Labour’s historic mission to tackle inequality and build a fairer society.
Chris Williamson is a former Labour MP, who is currently running as a Centre Left Grassroots Alliance candidate for Labour’s national constitutional committee.
You can find out more about how support the CLGA and pro-Jeremy Corbyn candidates in Labour’s elections by following twitter.com/clgalabour or www.facebook.com/CLGALabour.
The article above by Chris Williamson was previously published here by the Morning Star.