Looks like we all owe Jeremy Corbyn an apology

The Labour Party has increased its number of MPs for the first time since 1997. It may well crack 40% of the vote. At every election in the last twenty years, Labour has either just held steady or lost a few points over the last two months before the election. This year, it's improved its position by more than fifteen percentage points; from a 25-point Tory lead the week the election was called, it now looks like the national vote will be effectively tied. There is not really any room for doubt that this is the most successful election campaign in recent British history - and a good case for scrapping 'recent' and 'British' from that sentence.

Theresa May obviously had an appalling campaign, but you can only play the opposition in front of you. More importantly: if you'd said to Labour moderates - or anyone - eleven months ago, when May had just become Prime Minister, that within a year she would have lost her majority and Corbyn would have given Labour its best result since 2005, they would have laughed in your face. Anybody this morning telling you that Labour 'should have done better at this point in the cycle' or that the leader was a drag on his party's performance... they're not necessarily wrong - it's just very hard to judge that kind of thing - but they are obviously motivated more by dislike of Corbyn than by sober analysis.

Which, well, that's politics. There were a lot of people who didn't like Jeremy Corbyn - myself included - who've been proved wrong in pretty amazing style by this election. It's worth just saying that, to be honest about the whole thing, but here are some more specific things that Corbynsceptics were wrong about.

It wasn't a Brexit election
I kind of hesitate to include this, because it was always kind of obvious and I think any Labour leader would have had the same approach. For the bien-pensants Financial Times readers, though: Corbyn's Brexit strategy, even if occasionally maddening, was basically exactly right. The Tories wanted to suck up the UKIP vote and shear away Leave-supporting Labour voters. They were going to do this by painting the election as all about Brexit and presenting themselves as its guardian, rather than a traditional Conservative Party that people remain wary about. Making Labour unapologetically pro-Remain, or even outspoken on the single market and free movement, would have helped that strategy work. Being neither here nor there was exactly the place to be.

The 'genuine alternative' idea is real
If it wasn't going to be about Brexit, what was it going to be about? The other side of that coin is that the election became a very clear left-right contest. From day one, Theresa May has talked about making the Tories the party of working-class people. People were into it. But it turns out that's a schtick you can't maintain when there is an actual left-wing party in the debate. Amber Rudd made a fool of herself trying to defend benefit cuts. Theresa May used the phrase 'magic money tree' to the point of complete embarrassment. She was literally laughed at by a TV audience when she tried to attack Labour over its spending plans. Let that sink in. None of it, though, can happen when the Labour Party says it agrees that there are probably too many people on welfare and that cutting the deficit is a big priority. 'Give people a genuine alternative' has always seemed like a bromide, but it turns out to be true.

Technocracy doesn't work
Are income and corporation taxes the best taxes to raise to cover extra public spending? Probably not. Is giving a tax cut to university graduates on high incomes an important progressive priority? Not really? Is the pension triple lock totally unjustifiable as a policy approach? Of course. Technocratic refinement of a left-wing policy agenda is obviously crucial; letting it take the whip hand in your politics is a mistake. Nobody likes a "this detail of this policy hasn't been thought through and it's not such a good idea" take more than I do. But maybe occasionally we should just do a bit too much, be a bit less targeted than would be perfect policy, for the sake of that genuine alternative.
Put another way: Labour's Blairites need to learn that sometimes, you have to make policy that differs from your ideal approach, for the sake of winning votes.

A roughly related point: smart Labour politicos never liked the Corbynite strategy of focusing on young voters, since they're typically low turnout even when they express a lot of enthusiasm. Last night the turnout among 18-24s was up almost forty percentage points. It was higher than the overall turnout, higher than overall turnout at any election since 1997. And Labour won it by 44 points.

Labour united makes things happen
One of the most boring arguments of the last not-quite-two-years: moderates point to Corbyn's disastrous poll ratings as proof he's a bad leader and should go, Corbyn supporters say the polling would be better if Labour figures stopped saying he needs to go, rinse, repeat. It always seemed like a canard and even with this new, beautiful hindsight it probably was never totally true. But this election has confirmed what the fight over grammar schools suggested last year. Labour MPs still agree about many more issues than they disagree on - as you'd hope! - and when we stick to talking about those issues, Corbyn is a confident performer and the team works well. The leadership obviously deserves some of the blame here, since it was frequently them who pushed for debate on Trident and foreign policy issues that divided the party. However you want to apportion the criticism, though, the message is that - particularly in election season - you just shut up and pull together.

I'm still a guy with a blog who's going to write things critical of Corbyn and his brand of politics: I don't always agree with it and I love my own opinions. I still don't care about nationalisation or think tuition fee abolition is that great. But this is a time just to say: he was right, I was wrong, and it's amazing.

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