The Labour surge in the 8 June election clearly shocked Jeremy Corbyn’s detractors in the party. And it left a number of them eating humble pie. Perhaps none more satisfyingly than Peter Mandelson, who once said “I work every single day to bring forward the end of his [Corbyn’s] tenure in office”.
Speaking to the BBC, Mandelson conceded:
I was wrong [about Corbyn]. I am very surprised, an earthquake has happened in British politics and I did not foresee it.
Former leadership hopeful Owen Smith also admitted:
I was clearly wrong in feeling that Jeremy wouldn’t be able to do this well. And I think he’s proved me wrong and lots of people wrong and I take my hat off [to him]…
A number of other Labour figures have made similar statements.
From people like Mandelson, who have long patronised both Corbyn and his supporters, these statements are a rare act of humility. And they should be welcomed with open arms. But now, the question for Corbyn’s Labour Party is how to take such admissions of error and move forward.
Remember: Labour surged in spite of these people
When asked on Sky if he’d been wrong to try and undermine Corbyn, Mandelson said “well, no”. So there’s still clearly a long way to go to convince Corbyn’s detractors that they need to give him their full support. Especially when we consider the number of figures who have doubted Corbyn since he became leader:
But there was a small sign of forward movement from Mandelson. When asked if Corbyn might have done better with the backing of those in Labour who didn’t fully agree with him, Mandelson admitted:
He might have done.
And he probably would have. Because the Labour surge on 8 June was not only in spite of widespread media hostility, but also in spite of the Labour MPs who openly rebelled against him in 2016. The Labour coup severely damaged the image of the party, even if it strengthened Corbyn’s mandate in the process. And that was a difficult image to overcome.
But in spite of all this, Corbyn managed to re-energise Labour in a way unseen since 1945:
The right wing of the Labour Party now appears to have accepted (with a heavy heart) that times have changed and that, as ITV‘s Robert Peston said just before the election:
the politics of Tony Blair – Blairism – seems to be well and truly dead
If Labour can now unite around Corbyn’s achievements, and build on the movement that played a central role in those achievements, this could be the start of a real, lasting shift in British politics.
– Sign the petition of no confidence in a Conservative/ DUP coalition. Make your thoughts on the deal known. Contact your MP and be vocal on social media.
– Organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Want to contribute to the increasing democratisation of Britain’s media environment? Read and support independent news outlets that hold the powerful to account:
The Canary, Media Diversified, Novara Media, Corporate Watch, Another Angry Voice, Common Space, Media Lens, Bella Caledonia, Vox Political, Evolve Politics, Real Media, Reel News, STRIKE! magazine, The Bristol Cable, The Meteor, Salford Star, The Ferret.
Featured image via Twitter screenshot