… speak again.’ So says Lear to Cordelia – and pretty soon the government are going to have to say it to the electorate, ‘speak again – because we didn’t quite hear you the first time. You weren’t enunciating properly. You were trying to say too many things at once and we couldn’t make out what you wanted.’
Still, muddled as the result is, some things are pretty clear: first, that most commentators vastly underestimated Corbyn and his supporters. I had felt for a long time that the press were overplaying their hand and that by getting out and talking directly to the public, JC could get past them.
And I’ve largely been proved right: the press threw everything they had at Corbyn and he still increased Labour’s share of the vote by 10% and the number of seats to 262, even winning ‘unwinnable’ seats like Canterbury and – what the hell? – Kensington. Kensington!!
His critics are queuing up now to apologise and say they misjudged him: Owen Smith, Alistair Campbell, Yvette Cooper and so many others are falling over themselves to apologise and offer to serve in the shadow cabinet. Likewise media commentators: Jon Snow yesterday and said ‘I know nothing about elections,’ and even the BBC has admitted its error, Laura Kuenssberg once again causing me to shout at the screen when she said that Corbyn had been subjected to unfair criticism. ‘Yes, by you!’ I yelled.
We still need to win an election; but that is looking increasingly achievable now. May’s hold on power is so tenuous and her coalition so weak and misguided that it is not a matter of whether she goes, but when. Under any other circumstances than these, a Prime Minister who had called an election to increase their mandate and had instead lost seats would have to resign, not carry on as though nothing had happened. Whether it be days, weeks or months; whether it be a leadership election or a vote of no confidence, she will be out. And when there is an election Labour, with its membership now at 800,000 and rising (more than 150,000 new members since the election), are poised to win – and win decisively. I watched JC on television yesterday: he looked poised, relaxed, assured and confident. It was a pleasure to see.
Now is not the time for recriminations. Now is the time to form a government. JC4PM!