In the light of Labour’s surge, it is now clear the party came undone when it conceded too much to the right
• Owen Jones is a Guardian columnist
So now we know Labour suffered its 2015 rout not because it was too leftwing, but because it was not radical enough. Why conduct a postmortem on the long-deceased, or pick at an old scab, when there are now so many fresher wounds? 2015, after all, was another political age. “2015 politics: Ed Miliband eats a sandwich a bit weirdly,” as one tweet put it last year. “2016 politics: everything is on fire.” Trump, Brexit, Corbyn, a snap election that calamitously rebounded: it sometimes feels as though 50 years of politics have been compressed into just two.
It matters because the debate over ideas has yet to be settled. During the initial rise of Jeremy Corbyn, Tony Blair – taking time off from advising brutal dictators – confessed that he would not want a leftwing Labour party to win, even if he thought that was a plausible electoral route, which he did not. He advised Corbyn’s supporters to seek a heart transplant. He now has the honesty to say that this radical platform could indeed triumph, but he still would not wish it to do so. This perspective is not shared by the large majority of Labour MPs, many of whom believed the combined array of leftwing policies would lead to electoral Armageddon but are relieved – even excited – to discover otherwise. There remains a faction, however, that leans towards Blair’s perspective and its view is grossly overrepresented in the commentariat.
Corbyn went for bust and brought Labour far closer to government than it had been after its terrible defeat two years ago