The Labour party has emailed its defeated general election candidates, six weeks after the poll, to officially commiserate with them and send advice about where to seek help if they are experiencing stress or other problems.
One defeated candidate told the Guardian the tone and timing of the message amounted to “a pisstake”, saying it should have been sent immediately after the 12 December election.
The email, addressed “Dear 2019 General Election Candidate”, deals in part with post-election administration, including spending returns, and taking part in a consultation about lessons to be learned from the defeat.
“As candidates you were at the very heart of the campaign as the people who were speaking to voters day in, day out,” says the email sent from Labour’s election support team. “The lessons you learned from your campaigns locally will be invaluable to the party going forward.”
Noting that many candidates left jobs to stand for parliament, the message goes on: “Elections are stressful and being a candidate in a general election can bring even greater pressure on you and your family. There are a number of services available free of charge that can help if you are still experiencing any symptoms of stress.”
At the end of the email, suggestions of places to seek help include the candidate’s GP, the Samaritans, Citizens Advice, and the mental health charity Mind. It adds: “If you feel you are at risk of immediate harm please contact 999 in the first instance”, saying that people could also attend an A&E or call NHS 111.
The defeated candidate said the loss had had a “profound impact” on many of those who lost.
“For some, they were so sure they were going to win, adjusting is hard,” they said. “Others had to give up their jobs. Whether you invested emotional energy, time, resources, whatever – we all gave so much, as did those around us.
“An, ‘Oh, by the way, we’ve just remembered to check in with you losers’ email is insulting, so late in the day.”
Complaints from defeated candidates echo those from losing Labour MPs who received emails of commiseration at least a week after the general election.
Liz McInnes, the former shadow minister whose seat in Heywood and Middleton in Greater Manchester was won by a Conservative for the first time, received a personal email from Jeremy Corbyn after publicly complaining that the Labour leader had failed to contact her.
Corbyn wrote on 19 December: “I am writing to say how very sorry I am that you did not retain your seat.”
Sadly this election was not our moment but I remain proud of running a campaign that offered genuine hope over fear and division. We offered a popular policy platform and we won over 10 million votes.”
The following day, McInnes responded with a letter outlining her dismay at Corbyn’s response to the defeat.
“I was disappointed not to hear from you sooner. Many members of the shadow cabinet took the time to contact me the weekend after the dreadful election results and I’m afraid that the lack of any contact from you was very noticeable and quite hurtful.
“We warned that with an unresolved Brexit we would lose seats in leave-voting areas like the north and the Midlands and that has indeed come to pass. We also appear to have willingly cast aside our Scottish Labour MPs, bar one notable exception,” she wrote.