The political commentariat comprehensively failed to predict either the Conservative victory in the May general election or the emergence of Jeremy Corbyn as the eventual victor of the Labour leadership contest. Following a perhaps inappropriately brief period of reflection, the mainstream media have lighted on a consensus interpretation of these events which many in the Parliamentary Labour Party apparently share. Two soundbites of received wisdom now seem to frame most conversations about the result of the general election and the future of the party. They can be summarised succinctly:
‘Labour lost the 2015 general election because it lost the argument with the Conservatives on the economy’
‘Labour is unelectable in 2020 with Jeremy Corbyn as leader’ – and is thus by implication electable under a different leader
An analysis of the electoral arithmetic provides very limited support for either proposition.