One more quick observation on Labour. I was hanging around polling stations in my constituency on Thursday, somewhat in the manner of a wonk-nonce. The constituency is Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland. The enthusiasm of the voters and of the Labour activists was genuinely startling (and in truth a little uplifting). They were absolutely avid to vote. Labour had a canvasser on every station and loads more handing out flyers. I’d had three leaflets from Labour through my door in the previous three days. None from the Tories. No Conservative placards anywhere – although a nice Labour activist told me she’d seen one on the road to Marske.
But it was the fervour among the Labour voters that was most striking. And there was a difference, too, in the attitude of those activists in Saltburn and the ones I had met before in Islington. With the latter it was a case of ‘we’ve taken the party over!’ With the former it was very much a case of ‘we’ve taken our party BACK.’ Indeed, activists piled into MS+EC from neighbouring Redcar and beyond not only because it was a marginal, but because the candidate wasn’t a Blairite. Winning though Corbyn was during this campaign, it was more the feeling that at last control had been wrested from middle class Blairites that motivated many up north.
As it happens, they narrowly lost MS+EC. And even though I had voted Conservative (for the first time in my life), in the end I felt slightly saddened that Labour had not won there. People of all ages felt their vote was hugely important, including many who had never voted Labour before. It was a remarkable and cheering thing to see.