The head of Labour’s 2015 election campaign has called on Jeremy Corbyn to publish an internal inquiry into its election defeat, warning that his leadership has taken the party even further from possible victory in the next election.
Spencer Livermore, who ran Labour’s unsuccessful election bid earlier this year, said: “It is important we have as wide a debate as possible about why we lost to make sure we learn the right lessons, and publishing that report is an important contribution to that debate.”
The formal report into the party’s election defeat, chaired by Margaret Beckett, was commissioned by the interim leader Harriet Harman. Beckett, a former deputy Labour leader, is understood to have sent the completed report to Corbyn’s office in the past week, and is awaiting a response.
The report was commissioned as a no-holds barred examination of what led to the party’s devastating defeat and would look at why the party failed to connect with voters on the economy, welfare and leadership.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One, Livermore delivered a scathing, if cool, assessment of Corbyn’s first months. “What progress have we made so far against the enduring weaknesses that led us to lose in 2015? Are we further ahead now on economic credibility?
“Do the British people see our leader as a potential prime minister and have we broadened the base of our project in the country ? If you look at all those things it is impossible to conclude anything but [that] we are further away from power than we were on 8 May. Elections are won or lost in the first months of a parliament.”
Livermore, one of the most experienced election campaigners in the party, accepted Corbyn has a strong internal mandate but said: “As a leader he has a responsibility to translate that into external support and right now he has the lowest rating of any leader of the opposition in history.
“I believe Mr Corbyn has failed to learn the lessons of why we lost in 2015 and unless he does on the present course we will lose in 2020. On the fundamental issues we are going backwards not forwards”.
Livermore said he found it incredible the party held a debate in the summer that had concluded elections could be won by adopting the policies of the hard left, instead of discussing whether the soft-left policies of Miliband had pushed the party from the centre.
He insisted “elections are won on three fundamental issues: whether you are trusted on the economy, whether your leader can be seen as a potential prime minister, and the breadth of the visions and the plan you are putting [to] the country.
“With the benefit of hindsight looking back it is clear we were in the wrong place on these issues.”
He accepted the ridiculed Edstone, the large monument setting out the party’s key election pledges, was a mistake but added: “Do not think a stunt like that had any impact on the campaign whatsoever.”
Livermore said: “It is in the first months and year of the parliament that voters make up their minds, really, about a party, and if wrong decisions are made at the outset of a parliament it is very, very, very hard – almost impossible – to correct those decisions later on.”
This article was written by Patrick Wintour Political editor, for theguardian.com on Thursday 19th November 2015 17.47 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010