|By Jonathan Freedland|
A 1970s hard-left clique led the party into a dead end – and it’s the poor and vulnerable who will pay the price.
We can skip the first stage of grief. A result like this leaves no room for denial. Let’s move instead to the next stage: anger. We can feel a deep and bitter fury at what five more years of Boris Johnson will mean – at what his government, armed with such a mandate, will do. It will allow him to pursue a hard Brexit, to cosy up to Donald Trump and to trample on our democratic norms and judicial restraints. It will risk the union. It will allow him to ignore the poorest and most vulnerable, the children going to school hungry, to abandon the people whose lives and communities have been made thin by a lost decade of austerity and shrunken services – a decade that will now stretch, like a prison sentence, to 15 years.
We can be angry at the Tories for winning this election, but we must feel an equal rage for the people who let them do it. I am speaking of those who led the main party of opposition down a blind alley that ended in Labour’s worst election performance since the 1930s – a performance that broke new records for failure. Look upon the scale of that calamity: to lose seats to a government in power for nine lean years, a government seeking a fourth term that is almost never granted, a cruel government so divided it purged two former chancellors and some of its best-known MPs, led by a documented liar and fraud. A half-functioning opposition party would have wiped the floor with this Tory party. Instead, Labour was crushed by it.
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