“on behalf of all those other people you let down by not being good enough to win the election…”

With kind permission of Tom Harris, the former Scottish Labour MP for Glasgow South, this is a posting from his Facebook page. It’s an important ‘dry your eyes’ corrective to beaten political parties, to get over themselves and a reminder that politics is competitive for good reason:

There’s a lot of anger among my friends in the Labour Party and in other parties, and among people of no particular party allegiance. Anger at the Tories, their welfare reforms, their budget cuts, anger at Trump for, well, everything he says and does. Anger at the SNP for their centrist brand of managerialism masquerading as radical leftism.

Anger at the SNP for their centrist brand of managerialism masquerading as radical leftism. But (and I’m mainly addressing friends in the Labour Party and in the US Democrats here) THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE LOSE!

There are consequences to losing elections, elections that in ordinary circumstances, all things being equal, we should have won. Elections we lost because of decisions we took.

When the whole party united behind Gordon Brown in the run-up to the 2010 election instead of replacing him with someone who might have been electable.

When self-indulgent, spoiled middle class kids in the Labour Party voted for Ed Miliband instead of his brother to replace Brown, on the basis that “he’s more left wing”, even though any cursory examination of the polls and, like THE REAL WORLD, would have shown that he could never win an election.

These were decisions that led directly to where we are now – with a Tory government guaranteed re-election by the further stupidity and self-indulgence of the Labour Party.

And in America, by all means get angry at the bare-faced cheek of Donald Trump doing exactly what he set out to do and said he would do – namely winning the election. But far better to get angry, not at the victors, but at the losers, who lost because of their own decisions.

“Yeah, sure, go ahead and vote for Trump instead of Hillary – as if!” After all, who in their right minds would vote for Trump instead of one of the most qualified candidates for the presidency in history?

I mean, yeah, she was hated and distrusted by a record number of American voters, but who cares? They’ll take what we give them because we’re cleverer than them and we know what’s good for them. Remind me how that worked out again?

Losing has consequences. Politics isn’t about voting for for someone because doing so makes you feel good about yourself – why on earth would you ever imagine that that matters? Politics isn’t about you or your feelings, it’s about government.

It’s about beating the other side and you know something? If you don’t beat the other side, then that’s our fault, not theirs.

So put away your hankies and your hurt feelings and your sense of grievance on behalf of all those other people you let down by not being good enough to win the election. And try harder to win next time.

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  • Surveyor

    Tom’s forgetting Clinton polled almost 3 million more votes than Trump.

  • The Electoral College is hardly a new thing. She failed to campaign in key places like Wisconsin and, accordingly, lost. She lost. Fact.

  • mickfealty

    I don’t think he’s forgotten anything, but there’s no such thing as glorious defeat when the poor are getting shafted (because you failed).

    He makes a key point about the lack of seriousness that gripped Labour from Brown onwards. I see this lack of seriousness (or more accurately dalliance with failure-as-mission) stamped all over SD parties systemic failure in the west.

  • Obelisk

    This is just a voice in the wilderness crying out for attention. Labour is now a victim of it’s own internal contradictions. Socialist or centrist? Leave or Remain? Alternative government or protest group? Scottish Unionist with the Tories or without?

    The underlying political arguments that sustained Labour in the twentieth century have been played out and a new political dichotomy seems to be emerging between the forces of globalisation and the forces of protectionism. The Conservatives have already adapted and taken up the banner of protectionism, or at least a retreat into the dream of Britain First. Because Labour can’t adapt to this, still preferring to see the world in terms of right and left, it can’t succeed. However, it is too big to just die.

    So it’s moribund form squats over the remains of political left, attempting to accommodate a whole slew of mutually contradictory positions, satisfying nobody save the vultures such as UKIP or the SNP that periodically show up to separate another chunk of voters from it.

  • Surveyor

    But she didn’t really lose though did she? And the fact Trump is still obsessed about losing the popular vote speaks volumes.

  • Definitely Maybe

    But… she did really lose though. That’s why she’s not president.

  • ted hagan

    What you say is very true but don’t forget, the Gulf War knocked the snuffing out of Labour, destroyed party confidence and made the believers very wary of its leadership. The Blair years, ironically, are when the rot started..

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Majoritarianism OR democracy in action? Big question

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    There’s also another pattern that can be observed: an earning of your laurels for what you did within the party. This is apparent with Brown, largely due to the Granita restaurant deal but not his electability and with Clinton because of her hard work and experience (yes gender was also a USP). It’s also observable with Manuel Valls.
    It looks like promotion to figurehead is seen as some sort of meritocracy in practice. That is an SD principle but not applicable to party politics. Whereas electability is more to do with pushing the right buttons among the electorate by its leader.

  • lizmcneill

    If the only way to beat the Tories is to become Tory-lite, what’s the point?