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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?

Jeremy Corbyn Show more Show less

Phil Wilson, the Labour candidate who succeeded Tony Blair in Sedgefield summed it up when he said "the party's leadership went down like a lead balloon on the doorstep."
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Weak on anti-Semitism

Allegations of anti-Semitism have been rampant in the Labour party for the last three years. Corbyn was ineffective at stamping anti-Semitism out of the party.

Context

Labour has faced allegations of rampant anti-Semitism within the party for the last three years. Several prominent Labour figures, including Ken Livingston and Chris Williamson have been suspended over anti-Semitic comments and Jeremy Corbyn has shouldered a lot of the blame for failing to take a stronger stance on eradicating anti-Semitic thought within the party.[1]

The Argument

During a television interview with Andrew Neil during the election campaign, Corbyn refused to apologise to the Jewish community for his inability to deal with anti-Semitism in the party. The same day, Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis warned of “a new poison—sanctioned from the very top” taking root in the Labour party. [1] Although Corbyn apologised a week later, it was too little too late. The damage had been done and Corbyn had been exposed as a remorseless enabler of anti-Semitism. Corbyn’s image as a leader relied on his claims of moral authority. As a result, the incident severely undermined his election campaign. Corbyn and the Labour party worked tirelessly to demonstrate that Johnson was a morally bankrupt liar and cynic. But the anti-Semitism episode indicated a moral vulnerability within the Labour leadership as well, blunting many of his pre-election attacks on the Conservatives. This was a major blow to his election prospects and cost Labour dearly at the ballot box. [2]

Counter arguments

The 2019 Election was the Brexit election. The implosion of the Labour vote was a direct result of its incoherent messaging n Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn's reluctance to commit to becoming a Remain Party. While accusations levelled against Corbyn over anti-Semitism within the Labour Party were damaging, they had almost no impact on the Labour vote share. Voters were happy to vote for the Conservative Party despite credible allegations of Islamophobia. This indicates that racism within the party was not a deciding factor in voters' decisions to back a party on election day.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Corbyn failed to get a handle on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. [P2] This was a significant factor in its defeat in the 2019 UK Election.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Voters were happy to back the Conservatives despite credible allegations of Islamophobia within the party. This indicates that racism and ethnic rifts in the party were not a deciding factor for voters.

References

  1. https://www.bbc.com/news/election-2019-50564965
  2. https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2019/12/why-labour-lost-and-how-it-can-recover-epic-defeat
This page was last edited on Saturday, 28 Dec 2019 at 22:19 UTC

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