With only a handful of seats declared, one winner from the 2017 general election has already emerged – Jeremy Corbyn.
The Labour leader was predicted to march his party towards a catastrophic defeat. When the election was called, Labour were double-digits behind the Conservatives in the opinion polls, and Jeremy Corbyn lagged far behind Theresa May in leadership and “best PM” ratings.
But since then he has had an impressive campaign, addressing big rallies and coming across well in television interviews. The Labour manifesto – which had big-ticket items such as the abolition of tuition fees – was also well-received, particularly in contrast to the disastrous “dementia tax” proposed by the Conservatives. All this has re-energised Labour members and activists, who felt they had popular policies to sell on the doorstep.
These two factors – Corbyn’s impressive campaign performance and rock-bottom expectations – mean that even a hung parliament tonight feels like a huge achievement to most people in Labour.
This is the power of narrative in politics: David Cameron gained a boost from securing an overall majority in 2015 when a hung parliament was widely expected. Theresa May, by contrast, is being judged against the 100+ Tory majority some expected when she called the election.
Whatever the final shakedown of seats, it will feel to members as though Labour has made significant progress since 2015 – and a vindication of their choice of Corbyn as leader. That points to one thing: Jeremy Corbyn will be neglecting his allotment a little longer, if he wants to.