Let’s look at Labour party election wins since the Wilson era:
James Callaghan: lost in 1979.
Michael Foot: lost in 1983
Neil Kinnock: lost in 1987, and also in 1992.
Tony Blair: won in 1997, 2001, 2005.
Gordon Brown: lost in 2010.
Ed Miliband: lost in 2015.
Jeremy Corbyn: lost in 2017 and 2019.
So that’s eight out of the last eleven elections lost, and the only three wins were by Tony Blair, the most centrist Labour leader in that lot. So the number of general elections won by a Labour leader who isn’t Tony Blair since 1974 (45 years ago) is… zero. A big fat zero.
In fact, the only other times Labour have won general elections have been: (1) immediately after the war when the nation was fired up with the spirit of communitarianism, and full of dreams about the wonders of socialised medicine and nationalisation; and (2) the three elections won by Harold Wilson at the dawn, and at the height, of the sixties revolution when the modern classless society was the coming thing, and the old establishment had clearly had its day.
Since those heady days, despite the sixties generation and its descendants coming to rule the media and the new establishment, no-one to the left of Blair has ever won a general election. So even before we look at today’s actual Labour party (which I will do soon), we can note that it’s very difficult for a left-wing party, at least an openly left-wing party, to win power in Britain.
That’s not to say Britain won’t ever change and become more left-wing. Maybe it will, but that’s an issue for further discussion. For now, I’m setting the historical background, and what that background tells us is that Labour’s success in modern times has come from the centre, not the left.