Liz Davies

What Next?

Liz Davies
What Next?

What got us our result?  The manifesto: uniting the whole of the Labour Party except for hardline neo-liberals who don't believe in the welfare state, and they were forced to keep quiet.

  • The youth: responding to the appeal of the new politics, registering to vote and turning out in huge numbers.
  • The troops: under Corbyn, Labour has become the largest political party in western Europe, so more doors could be knocked on, more voters contacted, more posters displayed, more visibility in public places.
  • Domestic policies: this election turned out not to be solely about Brexit.
  • The shadow cabinet: Rayner on education, McDonnell's tough grip on economic policy, all of them making the case night after night for public spending funded by fair taxes.
  • And Corbyn’s personality and leadership: his modesty, humanity, socialism and ethics shone through. Voters appreciate a politician who is transparently honest and principled, and doesn't do personal attacks. He’s the riposte to the mantra “they are all the same”.

What now? We must build on the unity in the Party that emerged during the campaign. The new members, who joined inspired by Corbynism, will now stay and must become more active in party structures and campaigning. Labour needs a regular, visible presence on the high street and in local campaigns.

We need to consolidate the politics of the manifesto among the grassroots. For years, the left has been on the sidelines, and the right of the Party has able to pose as unifiers. Now it is the other way around. Our politics have mass appeal with party members and the public. We need to ensure that local party structures are behind the leadership, not attacking and undermining it, and that Labour Party representatives are representative of the new membership.

We still need to change party policy on Trident. Corbyn responded brilliantly to Paxman's accusation that he was a weak leader because the manifesto committed to maintain Trident. He stood up for party democracy. But Corbyn needs to be able to make the case that weapons of mass destruction are an abomination, and maintain his principled stance that he would not push the nuclear button. He got a huge boost when he voiced what so many of the public know: that Britain's policy of invading other countries is immoral and has made us less safe. Corbyn is at his best when he speaks from the heart, on peace, internationalism and human rights.

The Parliamentary Labour Party needs to look like a government in waiting, harrying the Tories at every opportunity. It needs to be articulating the politics of the manifesto: against welfare cuts, for a soft Brexit, defending the Human Rights Act, defending the NHS, arguing for the cost of social care to be spread through taxation, not imposed on patients. And, of course, calling day in, day out, for a second election. The Tory government does not have a mandate. The Labour Party's job is to force a new general election, to elect a Labour government.


is a barrister and Honorary Vice President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers. She writes in a personal capacity.