Those who believe that getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn would magically serve up future Labour victories on a platter are willfully blind to the longstanding issues that have been impacting Labour support since Tony Blair's landslide victory in 1997.
It is a misdiagnosis to suggest that in removing Jeremy Corbyn, Labour will automatically find itself fighting fit. Our party faces unprecedented questions in an unprecedented time. And those who promote quick-fix solutions only further discredit our party and our cause.
The truth is that the fight to win the country from the hands of Theresa May's Conservatives would be no easy task for any Labour leader, especially just after the controversial Brexit vote. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.
This loss in Copeland cannot – and should not – be understated, however. For a governing party to gain a constituency from the sitting opposition at a time when the country is in crisis over Brexit and the NHS is being decimated is evidently worrying. Just as Corbyn's opponents offer Corbyn alone as the reason for Labour's defeat, it would be wrong of me as a supporter to offer everything but Corbyn as the reason for Labour's defeat.
For too long, Corbyn and his team have failed to take necessary risks. In appearing reticent or ambiguous on the issue of immigration, he has allowed himself to be portrayed in the press as someone who has no idea what he’s doing. And in failing to either court the media or to attempt to prove right-wing tabloids wrong, he has left even his most ardent supporters disappointed.
Rather than being risk-averse and shy of controversy, Corbyn must actively court it if our movement is to succeed. Throughout these by-elections, he failed to do that. A bold strategy that seeks greater communication with the electorate at the sacrifice of Westminster engagements should be central.
But Corbyn's strategy is something that can be easily amended. What cannot be easily changed overnight is the historical trend of dwindling Labour support since Blair won huge majorities and then failed to radically reform many areas of our country, leaving millions of voters behind between 1997 and 2010. Labour's share of the vote in Copeland has been in decline since then, and last night’s result fits perfectly within the pattern.
The decline in Labour support in these areas did not start when Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader; it started when a New Labour project took hold of our party and decided to ignore working class communities across the country. The fragility of Labour's core vote in Scotland and the North was an issue long before Corbyn arrived as an easy scapegoat for the existential crisis that we face as a party. It would also be wrong to deny the impact of a concerted effort by members of the Parliamentary Labour Party to undermine Jeremy Corbyn since the day he was elected. Indeed Peter Mandelson proudly admitted recently that he works "every day to undermine Jeremy Corbyn."
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
1/11 He called Hezbollah and Hamas ‘friends’
True. In a speech made to the Stop the War Coalition in 2009, Mr Corbyn called representatives from both groups “friends” after inviting them to Parliament. He later told Channel 4 he wanted both groups, who have factions designated as international terror organisations, to be “part of the debate” for the Middle East peace process. “I use (the word ‘friends’) in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk,” he added. “Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No.”
2/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a tragedy’
Partly false. David Cameron used this as a line of attack at the Conservative Party conference but appears to have left out all context from Mr Corbyn’s original remarks. In an 2011 interview on Iranian television, the then-backbencher said the fact the al-Qaeda leader was not put on trial was the tragedy, continuing: “The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy.”
3/11 He is ‘haunted’ by the legacy of his ‘evil’ great-great-grandfather
False. A Daily Express exposé revealed that the Labour leader’s ancestor, James Sargent, was the “despotic” master of a Victorian workhouse. Addressing the report at the Labour conference, Mr Corbyn said he had never heard of him before, adding: “I want to take this opportunity to apologise for not doing the decent thing and going back in time and having a chat with him about his appalling behaviour.”
4/11 Jeremy Corbyn raised a motion about ‘pigeon bombs’ in Parliament
This one is true. On 21 May 2004, Mr Corbyn raised an early day motion entitled “pigeon bombs”, proposing that the House register being “appalled but barely surprised” that MI5 reportedly proposed to load pigeons with explosives as a weapon. The motion continued: “The House… believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.” It was not carried.
5/11 He rides a Communist bicycle
False. A report in The Times referred to Mr Corbyn, known for his cycling, riding a “Chairman Mao-style bicycle” earlier this year. “Less thorough journalists might have referred to it as just a bicycle, but no, so we have to conclude that whenever we see somebody on a bicycle from now on, there goes another supporter of Chairman Mao,” he later joked.
6/11 'Jeremy Corbyn will appoint a special minister for Jews'
False so far. The Sun report in December was allegedly based on a “rumour” passed to the paper by a Daily Express columnist who has written pieces critical of the Labour leader in the past. The minister did not materialise in his shadow cabinet.
7/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn wishes Britain would abolish its Army’
False. Another gem from The Sun took comments made at a Hiroshima remembrance parade in August 2012 where Mr Corbyn supported Costa Rica’s move to abolish it armed forces. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every politician around the world…abolished the army and took pride in the fact that they don’t have an army,” he added. The caveat that “every politician” must take the step suggests Mr Corbyn does not support UK disarmament just yet.
8/11 Jeremy Corbyn stole sandwiches meant for veterans
False. The Guido Fawkes blog claimed that the Labour leader took sandwiches meant for veterans at at Battle of Britain memorial service in September but a photo later emerged showing him being handed one by Costa volunteers, who later confirmed they were given to all guests.
9/11 He missed the induction into the Queen’s privy council
True. After much speculation about Mr Corbyn’s republican views and willingness to bow to the monarch, his office confirmed that he did not attend the official induction to the privy council because of a prior engagement, but did not rule out joining the body.
10/11 Jeremy Corbyn refuses to sing the national anthem.
Partly true. The Labour leader was filmed standing in silence as God Save the Queen was sung at a Battle of Britain remembrance service but will reportedly sing it in future. Mr Corbyn was elusive on the issue in an interview, saying he would show memorials “respect in the proper way”, but sources said he would sing the anthem at future occasions.
11/11 He is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cheese
True. The group lists its purpose as the following: “To increase awareness of issues surrounding the dairy industry and focus on economic issues affecting the dairy industry and producers.”
Historical trends do not excuse what happened, but they do help to explain it. It is Corbyn's job as leader of our party to reverse this trend and he must now rip up the rulebook and attempt a radical way of doing politics in these most unusual of times. Trying to tone down the message is the wrong way to go about things – as we’ve seen across global politics this year, there is an appetite for change.
I expect that the mainstream narrative will be entirely different from this assessment. But I don't bring up historical factors to absolve Corbyn of blame. I bring them up because the only way Labour will win again is if it is serious about the problems that actually exist. It is true that the Labour Party will always be bigger than one man – or woman – and that is also true for the problems that it faces.