Letter: Failure to accept the facts about Labour

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article today ('The hard truth for Labour') asserts that John Smith has claimed that Thursday's election results would have enabled Labour to 'cruise home' to general election victory. What he actually said, in his speech on Saturday, was that, were the results to be repeated in a general election, Labour would have 'cruised to victory in Basildon by 7,000 votes'. That is a simple statement of fact. No senior colleagues were 'stunned' by this comment. They all knew it to be accurate.

You then deploy this inaccuracy in order to attribute to Labour a complacency that is totally unfounded. No one suggests that Labour can cruise to victory at the next election, and every leading member of the party fully recognises that we have a hard fight ahead.

But my fear is that your newspaper, which clearly does not support the election of a Labour government, is refusing to accept a simple factual extrapolation from the results. Despite your desperate wish that the outcome would have converted into a hung parliament, the fact is that last Thursday's

results would have given Labour a majority of between 80 and 100.

Of course, such a hypothetical assessment is of dubious value, but I doubt if newspapers or commentators would have been cautious if the results would have converted into a hung parliament. On a night when all the commentators had already decided that it would be a Liberal Democrat triumph, it was important for us to put the results in perspective. From a much higher base, Labour had exactly the same increase in their vote as the Liberal Democrats and, overall, achieved a far better result than we had hoped for.

I understand that you will keep talking down the prospect of a Labour victory, will continue to give immense prominence to the issue of proportional representation - while ignoring the fact that the next election will be by the present system - and campaign for pacts at every level between Labour and Liberal Democrats. But please do not continue to deploy analyses and make assertions that contradict the facts simply because they inconveniently contradict your picture of the political map.

Yours sincerely,

DAVID HILL

Director of Communications

The Labour Party

London, SE17

11 May

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