Labour’s stunning performance in last week’s UK general election, which saw the party deny the Tories a majority and gain its largest increase in vote share since 1945, has left the country’s Elite Punditocracy in a state of deep shock.
The neocon/neoliberal Establishment thought their non-stop smearing of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a “terrorist sympathizing/IRA-supporting/anti-Semitism condoning/crimes-of-Milosevic denying/North Korea-admiring/Putin-appeasing/Hamas-befriending/beardie-weirdie sandal-wearing/Stalinist/Trotskyist/hard-left Marxist/enemy of Britain” (take your pick), would ensure that voters would vote the ‘right’ way on June 8, i.e. not for the party led by beyond-the-pale Corbyn. There was great confidence that Labour, having been attacked so relentlessly in the media, would lose heavily.
Jason Cowley, the Blairite political editor of the once radical but now very Establishment-friendly organ the New Statesman, claimed Labour could lose 100 seats. Another pundit predicted Labour’s vote could slip below 20 percent.
But as soon as the results of the BBC’s exit poll were revealed at 10pm on election night, blind panic took over. It was reported that when Rupert Murdoch saw the exit poll showing that the Tories would lose their majority and that Labour would actually gain seats, he stormed out of the room.
It was a joy to see the bewildered, and then indignant ‘they haven’t listened to us!’ reactions of the gatekeepers on social media – people who just a few minutes earlier were assuring us that the “unelectable” Corbyn was leading his party towards an electoral disaster.
It’s not that these smug, self-satisfied stenographers to power were wrong: they never wanted Corbyn to do well in the first place. But they were supremely confident that their relentless attacks on the “extremist” Labour leader would achieve the result their paymasters desired.