Monday 27 January 2020

Labour's crushing defeat by Tories will reverberate for years to come

Editorial Comment

It had been billed as the UK's most important election in generations and last week's vote certainly lived up to the hype.

Most had predicted a Conservative victory but the scale of Boris Johnson's triumph and the Tories' utter rout of Labour has taken many observers by surprise.

Johnson has delivered the Conservative's a win on a scale not seen since the days of Thatcher and, in doing so, his party has wiped the floor with Labour 'New' and 'Old'.

The mining heartlands of the north - decimated by Thatcher in the 1980s - have renounced Labour in favour of the party that brought them to their knees.

Sedgefield - the seat of New Labour leader Tony Blair for 24 years - elected a Conservative MP for the first time since 1935. Next door, the voters of Bishop Auckland backed a Tory for the first time in 134 years.

Brexit - and Johnson's simple 'get it done' message - was key to the Conservatives win but he had another ace up his sleeve, his opponent.

Jeremy Corbyn has been a disaster for Labour, for the UK and for Europe.

His socialist leanings; his ambivalence towards Europe and his failure to deal with anti-semitism in has party were a toxic mix that alienated even the most die-hard of Labour supporters.

The result is a catastrophe for his party for and the millions of 'Remainers' who are desperate to stave off the looming disaster of Brexit.

Boris Johnson now has free reign to push his agenda through parliament with the biggest Government majority since Tony Blair 's New Labour in 2001 and the biggest Tory majority since Thatcher's heyday.

The Labour votes who went to the Tories may represent a temporary switch of allegiance - even Johnson acknowledged that in his victory speech - but it will still take years, possibly decades, for Labour to recover to a level where they would have any realistic prospect of regaining power.

In the meantime, the much derided Boris Johnson has been given a free hand to push his agenda. Brexit now looks a certainty and one that will happen soon. The Tory austerity drive will continue unabated and, combined with the impact of Brexit, the future looks bleak for the UK's marginalised communities as Mr Johnson and his party look to be bringing the UK back to the Thatcher era.

If the election was an absolute disaster for Corbyn's Labour, it also proved a difficult night for the DUP in Northern Ireland.

Having lost two seats -including Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds - and with a comprehensive Tory majority in Westminster, Arlene Foster finds her self adrift.

Once a king-maker with the Conservatives at her beck and call, Ms Foster is now back on the political fringes in Westminster with a vote on a united Ireland looking more likely than ever before.

What lies ahead is uncertain but we will be feeling the results in Ireland and across Europe for a long time to come.

Enniscorthy Guardian