Thank you to everyone who helped with the election campaign – despite the result, it was inspiring to see so many people involved – on 12th December, we had over 500 people helping, many from London, and from as far afield as Grimsby, Scotland, and even Kansas and California! During the course of the six-week campaign, the numbers involved here in Hastings & Rye ran into the thousands. Your enthusiasm, commitment, and hard work was very moving, and something I’ll never forget. It was especially good to see so many young people getting involved in politics again, in the Labour Party.
But we mustn’t be disheartened. With 22,853 votes, it was the second highest number of votes we have ever polled in Hastings & Rye (the highest was in 2017). At no time during the period when Hastings & Rye had a Labour MP did we poll that many votes, and when Amber Rudd first won the seat back from Labour, she polled 2,000 fewer votes.
We were defeated in part by Brexit, and in part by the perceptions of Jeremy Corbyn. I say ‘perceptions’, because any Labour leader putting a radical manifesto to the people will be attacked and demonised by the Tory-owned press. We need to think about how to counter that more effectively, without reducing ourselves to the negative messages and gutter politics that have won this election for the Tories. We must rise above that. And remember, when the key policies in the manifesto were tested in opinion polls independently and individually, they all proved to be overwhelmingly popular. Brexit will happen now, and we’ll have to suffer the consequences, which won’t be good, especially in those parts of the country that voted most strongly to leave the EU.
The Conservative manifesto had little in it to tackle the problems we face. Public services will continue to be cut. There will be no more affordable housing in Hastings & Rye. Our schools will still be underfunded, unable to realise the full potential of our children. There are no proposals to deal with the adult social care crisis. People will continue to sleep rough and die on our streets. And the critical need to limit global warming will be dangerously delayed.
Boris Johnson’s plan (such as it is) will soon disintegrate, as he cannot pay for any of his modest spending ’promises’ without tax rises – either the promises or the commitment to not raising taxes will be proved to have been yet another lie fairly quickly, evaporating like CFCs out of the back of an old fridge. I hope he kept hold of that fridge – he’ll need to be hiding in it a lot more often in the future.
The result in Northern Ireland is especially interesting, and will be one to watch. Under the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Fein can at any point call for a binding referendum on the reunification of Ireland. With a customs border now down the Irish Sea, not at the ‘official’ UK border, expect that soon. Even the slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’ will sound hollow quickly, as the people realise that after we formally leave on 31st January, Brexit is far from ‘done’ and will drag on for years. We need to be ready to exploit the vacuum that’s at the heart of Tory strategy, where the message was only about Brexit and there’s nothing much else that’s actually deliverable.
So now, we have to build on the enthusiasm generated during the election campaign in Hastings & Rye, and we will. Most importantly, we must not let all those young people become disillusioned, we must keep them enthused. I’m prepared to see the Labour manifesto as a long-term strategy, something to build on. Labour will not be eclipsed in Hastings & Rye. The campaign to win this seat back for Labour starts in the New Year.
So once again, a huge thank you to everyone who got involved. For me, it was a humbling and heart-warming experience, and an enjoyable one. There is so much support for real change. There is compassion, and commitment, and an implacable resolve. There is determination. There is hope.
We will win again.
My sixteen-page ‘brochure’ for the general election, outlining my committments for Hastings & Rye, has now been printed and will be delivered to all households during the elction campaign. You can read it here, too. Click on the image to download the full leaflet:
You can view the Labour Party’s national manifesto here:
I am also writing a series of about a dozen ‘single topic’ leaflets, explaining how Labour’s policies will help communities in Hastings & Rye, which will appear below as they’re produced.
Click on the image to download the full leaflet
Industry & Employment