This Christmas will not be a happy one for Jeremy Corbyn, whose four-year leadership of the Labour party has seemingly been buried once and for all.
“I will not lead the party in any future general election campaign,” he said after retaining his seat in Islington North.
“I’ve had reflection on the policies the party will take going forward, and I will lead the party during that time.”
A transition period could be imminent, and for now Corbyn will be leading the Labour in the Commons, even if only for a few months.
He also stressed his commitment to the politics that have defined his entire career.
“I will remain the MP for Islington North. We will forever continue the cause for social injustices for all rather than the need for the few. Those ideas and those principles are there all the time.”
A man few thought would actually get on the leadership ticket, let alone win, departs having not been able to take that final step and get the keys to number 10.
For years he had been a backbench MP on the extreme fringe of the Labour party, with little mainstream airtime. Tony Blair even said in 1996 that potential supporters “really don’t have to worry about Jeremy Corbyn suddenly taking over.”
Yet 19 years later that is precisely what happened when Corbyn won the leadership contest held in September 2015, months after Labour had been well beaten in a General Election with Ed Miliband as leader.
Yet that defeat in 2015 was not a patch on the potential wipe-out defeat of 2019. This is a new low.
Now he reaches the end game. Losing two major campaigns is a black note for any leading politician, losing three is a remarkably awful record, and one that will probably go down in history.
In the immediate aftermath of the wreckage of the Brexit vote, calls for JC to resign were loud and clear.
Cameron and his team inside the remain campaign were constantly questioning why Corbyn wasn’t doing more and mobilising the Labour vote, the truth is he wasn’t capable of doing so.
Over three years later, he was still clinging onto the party support.
He did try to claim the last General Election as a win, going on a virtual victory parade around the country in the immediate weeks after the vote, but he won’t have such luck this time around. Back in 2017, he ran an energetic campaign that exceeded many people’s expectations.
The more flak he took, the louder his supporters shouted and his campaigning went from strength to strength. Momentum had grown. We even heard chants of ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ at Glastonbury.
No other politician in modern times could dream of such a phenomenon.
Labour won a fairly solid share of the vote at 39% and had genuinely rocked the boat, riding a public backlash against Theresa May’s awful premiership.
CELEBRITY BACKING, YOUTH SUPPORT
It didn’t bring him to power, but it at least offered a message of hope. It perhaps showed that maybe progress was being made. Maybe he wasn’t so unelectable after all.
Now two years later that hope has been crushed by what looks to be a devastating result.
Even with high-profile backing from celebrities and a strong youth turnout vote, Labour have actually gone backwards from where they were two years ago.
Anti-Semitism has plagued the party for a number of years now and despite claims from the top it was dealt with, it never was. The fall-out from that will continue and, until it is properly resolved, Corbyn’s successor will face just as many problems. Realistically it has meant previous supporters cannot tick the Labour box at this election.
His relationship with the media was always tetchy at best and Corbyn referenced this in his speech.
“The pressure on those surrounding politicians is often very high indeed, the media intrusion on people’s lives is very high indeed and the attack on families and loved ones by politicians remain and they are disgusting.”
This time round he hasn’t faced such a poor campaign. He faced a far stronger, clearer Conservative message and crumbled under the pressure. It looks to have been proven in the results.
His reign has been as polarising as any other leader in the recent history of the party. He won with 60% of the vote, yet many within the party were furious and the word ‘un-electable’ was almost immediately banded about.
Within minutes of the exit poll being revealed the knives were already out. One party insider revealed to The Guardian: “The only upside of this is that Corbyn will have to go now.”
It may be that more party members than expected, who have been gunning for a change in leadership, will now get their wish.
Corbyn has already been painted as the decisive issue in this election, rather than any frustration over Brexit.
Yet Corbyn still claimed that one big issue dominated.
“All were popular policies (in relation to Labour’s manifesto). However, Brexit has polarised and divided debate in this country and I recognise this has contributed to the Labour Party in this country.
“The issue of social injustice will not go away because of the issue of Brexit and Boris Johnson.”
The Remainers in the party will feel he didn’t go far enough, whilst those close to Corbyn will argue this alienated the Northern leave voters.
He was left between a rock and a hard place and it now looks to have cost him his political career.