Culture, Corbyn and chaos: Labour’s recipe for election disaster

A toxic culture, the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and a litany of organisational failures have been blamed for the Labour Party's disastrous loss in the last election.

Labour Together, a group including MPs Ed Miliband and Lucy Powell, party members, union leaders and media figures, has investigated a crushing defeat it said was was "a long time coming".

The group's no-holds-barred report sets out the "political, organisational and digital" failures which helped catapult Labour to its worst result since 1935, and while attempting to chart a path back to power, it grimly said the party "has a mountain to climb" to win the next election.

The report said under Mr Corbyn, Labour had been "unprepared" for an election, went in with "no clear message", and ultimately with a complex manifesto, marked by a plethora of policy announcements seen as impossible to deliver.

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Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a Together for Education rally at Central Hall Westminster in London.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during a visit to at the Heugh Battery Museum in Hartlepoo where he announced a package of measures that the next Labour government will introduce to support armed forces personnel and veterans at the Heugh Battery Museum in Hartlepool.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn (centre) celebrates with the Shadow Cabinet and Labour MPs as they welcome newly-elected Labour Member of Parliament Lisa Forbes (left) to Parliament in Westminster, London, following her victory in the Peterborough by-election.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives to announce a package of measures that the next Labour government will introduce to support armed forces personnel and veterans at the Heugh Battery Museum in Hartlepool.
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at the Pill Millennium Centre, Newport, after Ruth Jones won the Newport West by-election.
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and fellow Labour MPs welcome the newly elected MP for Newport West, Ruth Jones (right), to the Houses of Parliament in London today.
A supporter takes a picture of Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn with Ruth Jones (centre) and Jane Hutt (left) at the Pill Millennium Centre, Newport, after Ms Jones she won the Newport West by-election.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (centre), shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer and shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey in his office in the Houses of Parliament in London preparing for a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in north London, after he said on Tuesday he would be "very happy" to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May when she offered to discuss plans with him on exiting the EU.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future UK-EU relationship, in his office in the Houses of Parliament in London.
Embargoed to 0001 Sunday March 31 File photo dated 20/08/18 of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (right) and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard. Scottish Labour has suggested councils across Scotland should be allowed to establish municipal bus companies.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn walks along Dolphin Street in Newport, South Wales, as he joins prospective parliamentary candidate Ruth Jones (left) who is standing in the Newport West by-election.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (centre) poses with Labour supporters in Dolphin Street, Newport, South Wales, as he accompanies prospective parliamentary candidate Ruth Jones (not in picture) who is standing in the Newport West by-election.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn poses for a selfie in Dolphin Street, Newport, South Wales, as he campaigns with prospective parliamentary candidate Ruth Jones who is standing in the Newport West by-election.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn canvassing in Morecambe with candidate Lizzi Collinge, while on the local elections campaign.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn canvassing in Morecambe , while on the local elections campaign.
Kier Stammer (left) and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn arrive in Brussels ahead of a meeting with Michel Barnier.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26: Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn (2nd R) speaks with guests during a National Holocaust Memorial Day event at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre on January 26, 2017 in London, England. The commemorative event, attended by religious leaders, heard testimonies from survivors of the Holocaust, in which millions of predominantly Jewish people were killed. National Holocaust Day on February 27 marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Soviet troops. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves Finsbury Park Mosque in London, following the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand, as worshipers begin to arrive for the Friday prayer service.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to media after laying a wreath outside the New Zealand High Commission in Haymarket, London, in the aftermath of the mosque attacks in Christchurch.
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09: Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn (C) leaves following a rally to mark 80 years since the Battle of Cable Street at St George's in the East on October 9, 2016 in London, England. Speakers including Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn join members of the Jewish community to commemorate the Battle of Cable Street, which, in 1936 saw antifascist protesters clash with police to block a demonstration by Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard with Jeremy Corbyn after making his keynote address at the Scottish Labour's Annual Conference in Caird Hall, Dundee.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn addressing Scottish Labour's Annual Conference in Dundee.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (right) is joined by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn on a rooftop overlooking the former Holloway Prison site, as they announced it will be acquired by Peabody Housing Association.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is seen with flowers during the fourth Visit My Mosque Day at Finsbury Park Mosque in North London. Over 250 mosques open their doors to non-Muslim guests and visitors on the fourth Visit My Mosque Day. This year the national event also encourages mosques to support Keep Britain Tidy's Great British Spring Clean campaign with many already taking part in cleaning their communities. Later a man thought to be a pro-Brexit campaigner was arrested after he pressed down an egg on Jeremy Corbyn�s head. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is seen arriving at Finsbury Park Mosque in North London for the fourth Visit My Mosque Day. Over 250 mosques open their doors to non-Muslim guests and visitors on the fourth Visit My Mosque Day. This year the national event also encourages mosques to support Keep Britain Tidy�s Great British Spring Clean campaign with many already taking part in cleaning their communities. Later a man thought to be a pro-Brexit campaigner was arrested after he pressed down an egg on Jeremy Corbyn�s head. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally at Voluntary Action in Beeston, which falls in Independent MP Anna Soubry's constituency of Broxtowe.
Jeremy Corbyn MP Leader of Labor Party is seen speaking during the 2019 National Manufacturing Conference in Queen Elizabeth II Center. The conference addresses the difficulties and challenges the manufacturing sector will face post-Brexit. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in north London.
File photo dated 24/09/18 of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (right) and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who have both published their tax returns. Mr Corbyn has issued a challenge to Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond to publish their tax returns, as he made his public for the fourth year in succession.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn poses for a selfie after a speech at the Labour local government conference at The Slate, Warwick Conferences, Coventry.
Embargoed to 2200 Wednesday February 06 Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn signs a letter he has written to Prime Minister Theresa May laying out Labour's five Brexit demands before she goes to Brussels tomorrow.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during a visit to Derbyshire to discuss cuts to bus services.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn talking to a bus driver in Nottingham before a visit to Ilkeston, Derbyshire to discuss cuts to bus services.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking at St Mary�s in the Castle during a visit to Hastings in East Sussex.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meeting staff on the surgical ward during a visit to the Conquest Hospital in Hastings.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meeting community nurses and staff on a medical ward during a visit to the Conquest Hospital in Hastings.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech on Brexit during a visit to OE Electrics in Wakefield.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn takes a selfie with staff member Russ Whitehouse during a visit to OE Electrics in Wakefield.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech on Brexit during a visit to OE Electrics in Wakefield.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (centre) joins protestors outside Kings Cross St Pancras station in London to highlight 'rising rail fares and falling standards of service on Britain's railways' as part of Labour's Rail Action Day.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn outside Kings Cross St Pancras station in London to highlight 'rising rail fares and falling standards of service on Britain�s railways' as part of Labour�s Rail Action Day.
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"There is a broad consensus across the Party – mirrored in the results from the survey of Labour members – that a combination of concerns about the leadership, Labour's position on Brexit and Labour's manifesto not being seen as deliverable damaged Labour's chances in the election," the report said.

"The Commission concludes that the weaknesses going into this election were interlinked, and indivisible. They catalysed long term trends between Labour and its voter coalition."

While saying the end of Brexit as a campaigning topic and a change of leader – from Mr Corbyn to Sir Keir Starmer – would not be enough to engineer a return to power at the next election, the report does point a finger at Mr Corbyn and issues under his leadership, including anti-Semitism.

"Concerns about Labour's leadership were a significant factor in the election loss in 2019," the report said.

"'Stop Jeremy Corbyn' was a major driver of the Conservatives' success across all their key groups including previous non-voters, and among all the swing voters Labour lost to the Tories.

"The very low poll ratings on leadership going into the 2019 election cannot easily be disentangled from the handling of issues like Brexit, party disunity and anti-Semitism."

The group said various parts of the Labour organisation must accept their part in divisions which impacted on the party's ability to "present a united front to the public".

"Our Party has spent substantial periods of the last five years in conflict with itself resulting in significant strategic and operational dysfunction, resulting in a toxic culture and limiting our ability to work effectively," the report said.

Labour Together said the party had also suffered from both inadequate revision and a shortage of planning ahead.

"The absence of an objective open review of the 2017 general election loss was a key strategic error for Labour," the report said.

It added: "Labour went into the 2019 election without a clear strategy of which voters we needed to persuade or how.

"Labour was unprepared for an election, with no clear message compared with our 'For the many, not the few' campaign in 2017."

The report added Labour's numerous policy announcements had "created doubts about their deliverability", while a deficient media strategy "meant policies didn't have time to land and left candidates poorly briefed".

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Pictures of the week: June 14 - 20
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Pictures of the week: June 14 - 20
A woman wearing a facemask walks past a large rainbow in Covent Garden, London, after the UK's chief medical officers agreed to downgrade the coronavirus alert level from four to three after a "steady" and continuing decrease in cases in all four nations.
The Red Arrows and the Patrouille de France flypast over Nelson's Column in London to mark the visit of President of the Republic of France Emmanuel Macron. (Photo by Dave Rushen / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Bianca Walkden during the training session at the National Taekwondo Centre, Manchester. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)
Larry, the No 10 Downing Street cat and Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office out and about in Downing Street. (Photo by Brett Cove / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
French President Emmanuel Macron meets Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during a ceremony at Carlton Gardens. The French president is visiting London on June 18, 2020 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's BBC broadcast to occupied France following the Nazi invasion in 1940 "Appel" .
Police restrain a demonstrator who ran after Emmanuel Macron’s car convoy as a protest against French interference in Cameroon domestic affairs. The French president was attending an official event with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to the UK to mark the 80th anniversary of French Resistance leader Charles de Gaulle’s wartime broadcast. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2020.
A bear plays in a pool as four European brown bears and five grey wolves which are living together in British woodland for the first time in Bear Wood, a new enclosure at Bristol Zoo's Wild Place project. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
Steven Butterly from Azurablu Scotland Ltd during an electrostatic disinfection clean which follows a deep clean at Ross Sales and Lettings in Glasgow. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Black Lives Matter writing is seen on the back of Ollie Norwood and Billy Sharp of Sheffield United shirts during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Workers uncover the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square on June 17, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The statue was covered up to protect it from vandalism over the weekend, after it was targeted by Black Lives Matter protesters. It is being uncovered ahead of French President Emmanuel Macronâs visit the UK to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Charles de Gaulleâs speech urging the French population to resist German occupation during World War II. (Photo by Ilyas Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A protestor holds a placard depicting Dominic Cummings, Special Political Advisor for the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as pro-EU supporters demonstrate outside Houses of Parliament against no-deal Brexit and call for an extension of the transition period on 17 June, 2020 in London, England. The EU and the UK are negotiating the post-Brexit relationship as Britain's transition period ends in December. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: The Arsenal and Manchester City players minutes silence before the Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal FC at Etihad Stadium on June 17, 2020 in Manchester, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
A man walks past a mural of Malcom X and Martin Luther King paying tribute to George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in the U.S. Artists have been painting murals and sharing messages in London. (Photo by Thabo Jaiyesimi / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Frankie Dettori in The Queens silks prior to the Hampton Court Stakes during Day 2 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 17, 2020 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Edward Whitaker/Pool via Getty Images)
Florist Trish Collins-Morgan works behind a plastic screen as she re-opens her shop, with various safety policies in place, in West Kirby north west England on June 17, 2020, as lockdown restrictions are eased during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Various stores and outdoor attractions in England opened Monday for the first time in nearly three months, as the government continues to ease its coronavirus lockdown. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Members of Kurdish Community Scotland during a demonstration in Edinburgh protesting against Turkish air raids in Iraq. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
A pro-Kurdish protester who ran into the road toward the car of Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson as it was leaving the Houses of Parliament in London on June 17, 2020 is led away by police officers. - The protester ran into the road towards the Jaguar that normally carries the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and was stopped by police. As the Jaguar stopped it was subsequently struck from behind by the next vehicle in the convoy resulting in a large dent. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
MILTON KEYNES, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/06/15: A couple walk past the Victoria's Secret store. Non essential shops were reopened today in both the 'Intu Shopping Centre' and the 'centre:mk' in Milton Keynes, for the first time since the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic lockdown. Social distancing measures were in place for all stores, including a one way system for shoppers and plenty of queuing around both shopping centres. (Photo by Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/06/15: A woman in a facemask walks over Waterloo Bridge. Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps, announced that all passengers must wear face masks on public transport starting from 15 June and warned that wearing of a face mask would be a condition for travel and failure to comply will result either in not being allowed to travel or a fine. (Photo by Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Rubbish left by a bus stop at the end of lockdown on 15th June in Southampton Row, London, United Kingdom. (photo by Barry Lewis/InPictures via Getty Images)
An employee at Top Gift Mobile stall wears a face shield and mask as preventive measure while working. (Photo by Dawn Fletcher-Park / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A customer carrying bags of shopping leaves Primark in Birmingham as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March. (Photo by Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images)
(Permission granted) A school pupil wearing a face mask on a bus in Newcastle as face coverings become mandatory on public transport in England with the easing of further lockdown restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
Loyalist Defence League members gather in George Square in Glasgow, Sunday June 14, 2020, during a protest between people calling for the removal of a statue Robert Peel and counter protesters. (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: A view of the closed Music Venue, Electric Ballroom, on June 14, 2020 in London, UK .As the British government further relaxes Covid-19 lockdown measures in England, this week sees preparations being made to open non-essential stores and Transport for London handing out face masks to commuters. International travelers arriving in the UK will face a 14-day quarantine period. (Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images)
Passengers wearing face masks at Waterloo station in London as face coverings become mandatory on public transport in England with the easing of further lockdown restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
A man walks past a Be kind. Let's look out for one another poster in London. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Barriers seen packed outside a property in north London. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Police officers wearing face masks at Leeds railway station as face coverings become mandatory on public transport in England with the easing of further lockdown restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: Social Distancing Signs on the Cobbles of Camden Market on June 14, 2020 in London, UK .As the British government further relaxes Covid-19 lockdown measures in England, this week sees preparations being made to open non-essential stores and Transport for London handing out face masks to commuters. International travelers arriving in the UK will face a 14-day quarantine period. (Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images)
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Labour was heavily outperformed by the Tories on the digital and social media front, with research for the review showing the Conservatives "invested heavily in digital" and had far more success with organic shares of their messaging, while making "much better use" of Facebook groups and other online forums.

By comparison, Labour activists were plagued by "crashing digital tools that created more work not less for candidates and campaign teams", and by a lack of "best practice messaging".

The review also showed Labour lost many voters due to Brexit, with more deserting the party before the referendum than in last year's election.

Among recommendations, the group called for a "coherent strategy to build a winning coalition" at the next election and "a renewed commitment to transformational economic change" in Britain, rooted in a credible understanding in the "struggles of people's lives".

The report said Labour should build "a culture of inclusion and diversity, generosity and teamwork, not factionalism and patronage in the party".

It also called for a "root and branch reform of our party organisation and structures, bringing it into the 2020s, so it connects better to the communities and voters that we seek to serve, including a wholesale transformation of our digital and online campaigning".

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