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Why did Labour lose the 2019 UK general election? Show more Show less
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On election night 2019, Labour supporters watched in horror as the count revealed Labour's worst election performance in recent history. In the wake of the party's worst night "since 1935", Labour members and analysts attempt to dissect what went wrong. Was it the party's stance on Brexit? An unpalatable leader in Jeremy Corbyn? Or a misguided election strategy?

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The 2019 election was dubbed 'The Brexit Election' but Labour's Brexit policy was confusing, ill-defined, and failed to acknowledge the will of the people.
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No clear message

Labour stalled and delayed the announcement of its Brexit position. The end result was a muddle Brexit policy that failed to land with voters.

Context

Labour’s messaging on Brexit was muddled from the start. Unlike the Conservatives, that had a clear message of “get Brexit done”, Labour was indecisive and only tacked towards remain at the eleventh hour. Whenever Labour has won election victories in the past (think 1997, 1966 and 1945), it has been able to deliver a clear message and tell a compelling story. In 2019, Labour had no story or message.

The Argument

How could Labour hope to deliver a clear message when is leader would not reveal how he would campaign in the event of a second Brexit referendum? The 2019 general election was touted the Brexit election. For Labour to not have a clearly defined position, and with its leader seemingly at odds with his party and the supporters over the issue, it was setting itself up for failure. When Corbyn did finally reveal his stance, two weeks into the 2019 election campaign, he vowed to stay neutral in the event of a second referendum. In doing so, he curtailed his party’s ability to become a leading voice on the single biggest issue in the 2019 election, leaving a path for the Conservatives to hammer home their message and emerge as the most decisive party on Brexit. [1] In the run-up to the election, YouGov polls consistently showed that the British public had a much clearer understanding of the Conservatives’ Brexit policy.[2] Labour could have delivered a far clearer message by taking a clear stance after the European elections in May.

Counter arguments

Labour’s Brexit message was exceptionally clear. It was essentially the sole goal of the People’s Vote campaign. Labour vowed to hold a second referendum with the option to remain and the terms of a government-negotiated Brexit agreement. The issue wasn’t that Labour didn’t have a clear policy, it was that the hostile British media deliberately muddied the waters for deliberately partisan ends. [3]

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Labour had no clear message on Brexit. [P2] Brexit was the defining issue of the 2019 election] [P3] Therefore, Labour had no clear message on the defining issue of the election. [P4] This cost them a lot of votes.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Labour had a very clear message on Brexit.

References

  1. https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/abour-why-lose-general-election-2019-results-explained-jeremy-corbyn-conservative-win-majority-1340617
  2. https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2019/05/15/labour-and-conservatives-have-least-clear-policies
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/05/labour-brexit-message-election
This page was last edited on Wednesday, 8 Jan 2020 at 18:04 UTC

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