Labour under Corbyn posts biggest gain in popular vote since 1945

Under Corbyn’s leadership, Labour won a bigger portion of the popular vote than it has in the past 15 years. Turnout was the highest it’s been over the past 20 years. The improvement over the prior result is the best for Labour since the post-war 1945 election.

196448.0%41.9%8.5%75.8%+ 3.9%2.3%
197043.1%46.4%7.5%72%– 4.9%2.8%
197437.2%37.9%19.3%78.8%– 5.9%2.7%
197439.2%35.8%18.3%72.8%+ 2.0%2.7%
197936.9%43.9%13.8%76%– 2.3%6.0%
198327.6%42.4%25.4%72.7%– 9.3%13.5%
198730.8%42.2%22.6%75.3%+ 3.2%11.7%
199234.4%41.9%17.8%77.7%+ 3.6%9.4%
199743.2%30.7%16.8%71.3%+ 8.8%7.7%
200140.7%31.7%18.3%59.4%– 2.5%5.2%
200535.2%32.4%22.0%61.4%– 5.5%4.7%
201029.0%36.1%23.0%65.1%– 6.2%7.7%
201530.4%36.9%7.9%66.4%+ 1.4%5.5%
201740.0%42.4%3.0%68.7%+ 9.6%4.7%

* Starting in 1981, the old Liberal party allied with and eventually merged with the SDP. Unemployment data is for Jan of each year.

Labour under Corbyn has done this while being almost universally maligned by the media and much of the party itself, including former party stalwarts from the Third-Way/centrist/New-Labour/Blairite wing. Much of the Labour establishment has spent the past year trying to brand Corbyn as unworthy of being Prime Minister. Over the past couple of years, Labour MPs have said he’s a union radical, an anti-semite and supports terrorism. Some are bothered by Corbyn’s unabashedly left-wing economic agenda, others by this anti-war stance, yet others by his criticism of western intervention and colonialism. A Labour donor and former candidate said Corbyn and his “arriviste followers” were  like Nazi Stormtroopers.

Until recently, most of the British center-left establishment was gleefully anticipating an electoral disaster, privileging their intra-party factional objectives over even a pretense at unity. The forced a leadership vote in 2016, which Corbyn won by over 60%, thanks to solid support from rank-and-file grassroots members.

There are multiple lessons US progressives can learn here:

  1. An unabashedly left-wing plank can be more compelling than one trying to pivot to the center.
  2. The entire third-way wing of your party punching left in unison can slow you down, but it won’t stop you.
  3. Authenticity matters. When people heard Corbyn unfiltered, he outperformed their expectations.
  4. Conviction matters. Voters can smell poll-tested positions or policies of convenience from miles away.

Some focus groups found that voters appreciated Corbyn’s apparent openness, in contrast to more than May’s relatively safe and sterile approach, which saw her rarely deviate from a limited palette of approved catchphrases. —…