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Jeremy Corbyn has won a great victory – and so have the Liberal Democrats

Labour may not have the most MPs, but Jeremy Corbyn has created an electoral map with many more winnable seats than he inherited.

So it was brilliant defeat after all. Labour lost their third successive general election, but for the first time since 2005, the party can feel they have the wind at their backs.

Yes, the numbers mean that the only viable government – and even then that's using a very generous definition of "viable" – is a Conservative one, propped up by the Unionist parties. English votes for English laws means that the Conservatives will still have a majority of 60 on English issues, but this is a government that is altogether weaker and more vulnerable than the one it replaced.

Don't underestimate the scale of the turnaround that Labour achieved after its disastrous local elections, either.  

As far as Jeremy Corbyn is concerned personally, having increased both Labour's vote share and more importantly its seat share, he has a cast-iron right to have a second crack at the electorate if he so wants. Equally, if my maths is right, a Corbynite successor could now make the ballot without relying on the kindness of strangers.

But Corbyn hasn't just achieved an internal victory. (And let's take a moment to praise Theresa May, who has done what no one thought possible, and unified the Labour Party.)  As I wrote immediately after the 2015 election, that defeat was very bad for Labour indeed. So bad that the party had lost two elections in one night. There were very few genuine marginals for them to gain and a number of their own seats were highly vulnerable.

Some of their own seats are still very vulnerable but Corbyn has created an electoral map with many more winnable seats than he inherited. Shipley is a marginal again. Chingford and Wood Green is a marginal for the first time in its history. The electoral path to power is still formidable. But no matter how bleak things look, Labour will know that having won Canterbury – a seat that has been Conservative-held for so long that the last party leader to take it off the Tories was William Gladstone – they can revitalise and regenerate their coalition.

The remarkable boost in turnout – not only among the young, though we will have to wait for the full figures to emerge to start to draw real conclusions from it – means that no party will feel as relaxed about offering thin gruel to young voters again. That will change British politics for the good and for ever.

As for the Liberal Democrats, as bruised as they will feel, they had a fantastic night too. The loss of their best performer in Nick Clegg, the miscalculation of wasting time and money trying to unseat Kate Hoey in Vauxhall while narrowly losing to Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park, and the fall from first to third place in Southport, obscures a night in which their parliamentary party is larger and their talent pool is deeper. Their vote went down but it is more efficient. And to be frank, Clegg doesn't need to be in Parliament to make a splash.

But what the parties of the left and centre can now do is look at the next election, whenever it may be, with genuine hope. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

Arsène Wenger. Credit: Getty
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My biggest regret of the Wenger era? How we, the fans, treated him at the end

Arsenal’s greatest coach deserved better treatment from the Club’s supporters. 

I have no coherent memories of Arsenal before Arsène Wenger, who will leave the Club at the end of the season. I am aware of the Club having a new manager, but my continuous memories of my team are of Wenger at the helm.

They were good years to remember: three league titles, seven FA Cups, the most of any single manager in English football. He leaves the Club as the most successful manager in its history.

I think one of the reasons why in recent years he has taken a pasting from Arsenal fans is that the world before him now seems unimaginable, and not just for those of us who can't really remember it. As he himself once said, it is hard to go back to sausages when you are used to caviar, and while the last few years cannot be seen as below par as far as the great sweep of Arsenal’s history goes, they were below par by the standards he himself had set. Not quite sausages, but not caviar either.

There was the period of financial restraint from 2005 onwards, in which the struggle to repay the cost of a new stadium meant missing out on top player. A team that combined promising young talent with the simply bang-average went nine years without a trophy. Those years had plenty of excitement: a 2-1 victory over Manchester United with late, late goals from Robin van Persie and Thierry Henry, a delicious 5-2 thumping of Tottenham Hotspur, and races for the Champions League that went to the last day. It was a time that seemed to hold the promise a second great age of Wenger once the debt was cleared. But instead of a return to the league triumphs of the past, Wenger’s second spree of trophy-winning was confined to the FA Cup. The club went from always being challenging for the league, to always finishing in the Champions League places, to struggling to finish in the top six. Again, nothing to be sniffed at, but short of his earlier triumphs.

If, as feels likely, Arsenal’s dire away form means the hunt for a Uefa Cup victory ends at Atletico Madrid, many will feel that Wenger missed a trick in not stepping down after his FA Cup triumph over Chelsea last year, in one of the most thrilling FA Cup Finals in years. (I particularly enjoyed this one as I watched it with my best man, a Chelsea fan.) 

No one could claim that this season was a good one, but the saddest thing for me was not the turgid performances away from home nor the limp exit from the FA Cup, nor even finishing below Tottenham again. It was hearing Arsenal fans, in the world-class stadium that Wenger built for us, booing and criticising him.

And I think, that, when we look back on Wenger’s transformation both of Arsenal and of English football in general, more than whether he should have called it a day a little earlier, we will wonder how Arsenal fans could have forgotten the achievements of a man who did so much for us.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.