First, with regards the meme being put about that Labour would have won if pretty much anyone but Corbyn had been leader. Let us dispatch this ideas swiftly. First, and most obviously, there would probably not have been an election if anyone but Corbyn had been leader. Labour would not have been so riven with dissent and would not have appeared so utterly helpless (while in fact being poised for a devastating counter-strike).
Further, a different leader would never have put forward such an audacious manifesto or campaigned so successfully, motivated so many canvassers in the constituencies or inspired young voters to roll on up to the polling station. More people voted for Corbyn's version of the Labour Party than voted for Milliband or Brown or even Blair in 2005 - either in terms of vote share or raw numbers. And turnout was particularly high among the young. He managed to bring people to the polls to vote for Labour, far more successfully than in their last three attempts. And the ground war waged by Labour activists was astonishing, by all accounts, and crucial in winning the battles in key constituencies.
Finding an extra 3.5 million votes, and robbing the Tories of their absolute majority just two years after they won it, proving people will vote for a 'leftwing' manifesto, humiliating May and de-fanging the Mail and the Sun ... That's not a bad run for someone we were assured was going to absolutely destroyed, buried, annihilated.
Not only is it likely that Labour will romp home at the next election, they will likely win a majority that will keep them in power for another decade. Strategically, that's far more significant than the two year zombie administration May is likely to be recalled for.
Now, as for the prospects of the Tories. Below are ten off-the-top-of-my-head reasons why they can expect to be trounced at the next election, which will liekly be within 2 years.
- They are in office but not in power. They will get blamed, fairly or unfairly, for every bad thing that happens. This is what did for Brown when he took over.
- The Public mood is against them. Look at the polls since the election. Labour in the lead. Unless they do something dramatic and interesting, the Tories will continue to flounder. A 'better manifesto' will be viewed cynically.
- Their reputation for competence is shredded. They went in with a majority, came out without one. They look like idiots.
- Years of scheming and undermining await - assuming May tries to cling on for a couple of years, her potential successors will be constantly plotting against her and each other. Again. look at how that worked out for Brown.
- History is against them. Cameron managed to defy political gravity by increasing his vote share and number of seats. I don't think any other administration has managed to do that in recent history. Almost inevitably, the party in power loses ground - even Thatcher did worse in each election than in the one before.
- The Mail Failed. And the other news media that were so shrilly anti-Corbyn. They threw everything at him and it did not work. What do you think they have left to attack him with? The 'Terrorist sympathiser' and similar lines have been used, they wll be even less effective next time.
- Labour are getting stronger. With less disunity and negativity, and with a stronger front bench, Labour will look more voteable. A team lead by Corbyn, McDonnell and Abbott probably did worry a few voters. As more 'traditional' Labour MPs get involved, the party will look less like a demented leftwing cult and more like a genuine contender.
- Labour have lost the 'loser' image. It is likely some people did not vote / voted for other parties because they did not think Labour would win. Almost all the polls suggested Labour were due for a hammering. Yet they still came from twenty points behind to within three points of winning more votes. If there is an election in the next couple of years (likely) then Labour's vote will get out in droves, and the dispirited Tory vote will be more inclined not to bother.
- Ground game. Labour have a superb team of activists. The oft derided Momentum foot soldiers turned out to be a) just normal people, not scary Trots and b) willing to actually get out there and knock on doors and get the vote out. There will be even more of them next time, as the 'One More Push!' message gets rolled out. Where will the Tories get a activists like that?
- Time for a change. Whether the next election is in two years or five, the will have been in power for a long time and people will have become very sick of them.
There simply isn't any obvious reason to think they will win the next election, or even just tread water.
They blew it.