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Clowns to the left... jokers to the right; election fallout: knives out as may's circus shambles on VOICE OF THE.

It was a tightrope act without a safety net, a trapeze flying loose through the air.

From the bungled manifesto to ducking TV debates, it was as if the Tory General Election campaign was being run by clowns.

And that's why when the jittery and hesitant Theresa May finally faced the British lion on polling day it turned round and bit her.

Two of the clowns behind the campaign, Mrs May's closest aides Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, fell on their swords yesterday.

But the buck doesn't stop there. The Conservative Party is rightly furious with its leader, and if it now sets about devouring her she has no one to blame but herself.

Contrast that with Jeremy Corbyn.

The Labour Party he led into the campaign had certainly become a circus, but he soon showed it who was ringmaster.

Mr Corbyn did not put a foot wrong, and bettered Ed Miliband's result in 2015 by 30 MPs.

MESSAGE Yet Mr Corbyn's party had turned on him before an election was even a twinkle in Mrs May's eye.

Many MPs were convinced he would be a disaster with voters, grumbling his swerve left would plunge them over the electoral cliff.

But to come from 25 points behind to force a hung parliament is a political turnaround not seen since Tony Blair was leader.

In 1997 Labour courted the better off middle classes. On Thursday Mr Corbyn proved that strategy is not good enough 20 years later.

It was not the middle classes who paid for nine years of Tory austerity but the poor and alienated underclass who could least afford it. Mr Corbyn became their champion.

His message won over young people notoriously complacent when it comes to voting.

If Mr Corbyn had been able to count on the full support of his MPs he might not have lagged behind with older age groups. Their backing would have meant Theresa May not just clinging to office, but out of it. As it was Mr Corbyn had to field Labour's B team.

Yet the party would be much more credible if Yvette Cooper was shadow Home Secretary and not the numerically challenged Diane Abbott. Hilary Benn is thoughtful and astute and one of the few Labour politicians to whom the word statesman comes attached. He disappeared as shadow Foreign Secretary last year. Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham have left national politics to become mayors of London and Manchester respectively.

They are important jobs, but then so is running a government department, and had they been in Mr Corbyn's team they would have made the prospect of a Labour victory more likely.

Talented shadow Cabinet ministers under Ed Miliband including Chuka Umunna, Rachel Reeves and Caroline Flint turned their backs on Mr Corbyn.

Good MPs have upped sticks and left politics altogether, while former shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt has gone to spend more time with some museum artifacts.

Tom Watson has become Mr Corbyn's deputy only in name. Mr Watson did all he could to shaft his boss and played little part in this campaign.

Had they been behind Mr Corbyn Labour could be in power today. And the Labour leader has good reason to be aggrieved with them.

Yet he tells us today that instead he will welcome them back with open arms.

Even Peter Mandelson admits he was wrong. An historic moment indeed.

If Labour is to win the next election the party must now unite behind the man who confounded their low expectations of him in this one.

Another polling day will not be a long time coming. If it is not this year it will be next.

And seeing Mrs May's circus leave town cannot come soon enough.
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 11, 2017
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