Articles about the Labour Leadership Campaign now form 65% of our GDP so I’ll bang out one more…
Right, so, I was going to follow up the last post with a more positive slant on why Corbyn might make a good Labour leader – and I will in a bit – but first, in light of the week’s events, I’ll just repeat that possibly the most compelling reason to vote Corbyn is that Labour needs to have a leader and his rivals have all had hopeless campaigns. Furthermore it seems that the whole ‘anti-Corbyn’ wing of the party are not terribly good at politics.
Essentially just repeating a lot of the last post really. Still…
‘Previously on Buffy…’
The £3 Sign-up: That went well eh?
The Initial Pitches: Looked sensible at the time. One a bit to the left, One a bit to the right, one in the middle. All basically apologising for not winning before and promising that they would next time. All keen to stress they ‘accepted’ the party needed to ‘listen’ to the public. All, to some extent, implying that the Tories were the model to follow. All dull as ditchwater. In retrospect, perhaps it’s easy to point out that the Tories weren’t that popular and, more to the point, the voters in this contest were supposed to be Labour supporters – y’know, not Tories. Trying to swing that oh-so-desirable 7% or whatever might well be a good idea in 2020. Not so much now. Meanwhile, the daft, novelty candidate starts to look mildly impressive.
The Welfare Bill: PR disaster. Plenty of reasonable political reasons for abstaining but that wasn’t made clear til after the fact (and left to poor souls like Stella Creasy in the New Statesman or Andrew Glynne on his blog). Too keen to appear ‘in touch’ with the public on welfare. Led to surge in popularity for Corbyn.
Blair Intervenes: The ever-popular ex-leader pops up to be condescending. Again, this speech was presumably agreed on by someone. Will they take this approach with the electorate? Imagine walking up to a bloke in your local and pointing out that ‘You say your heart is with West Ham…(*smirk*)… get a transplant!…Chelsea are the only London club that can win the league’. Also, nobody really likes Blair. They never did – even when he won everything everyone sort of thought he was a prick didn’t they? He just seemed competent. (Can you imagine him actually having friends? Or does he, like Kissinger’s America, ‘only have interests’. Seriously, try and imagine him ‘chatting’ with a ‘mate’. Can’t can you?) Led to surge in popularity for Corbyn.
Master Strategist Campbell Intervenes: ‘Anyone but Corbyn!’ because the best way to tackle an opponent currently on around 50% in the polls is to encourage a 3-way split against him. Also, fed into narrative of ‘us v them’ which has made whole contest a disaster. Plus nobody really likes you, you’re just marginally less of a dick than Piers Morgan on twitter. Corbyn already surging by this point. Didn’t hurt though.
Blair intervenes again: That went well eh?
Brown Intervenes, Miliband (D) intervenes: This in no way makes them look desperate. Also why not get two people primarily associated with losing election campaigns to accuse someone else of being ‘unelectable’? Common sense that. Corbyn ‘probably not arsed’.
#LabourPurge: This is a mess. It’ll make any winner look suspect but more to the point – and allied to the general ‘get Corbyn’ campaign – it’ll make any non-Corbyn winner (unlikely I know but…) look like a patsy. Sure the Tories will jeer Corbyn for not having the support of his MPs, but they’ve now got an open goal on any other leader for not having support of members.
Also, the meddling, bossy, ‘we-know-best’ attitude is the thing that, if I’ve understood this right, the public generally dislike Labour for.
So, to reiterate from last week: I’m not sure ANY of these people know what they’re doing. Sod voting for them.
So, I will vote for JC despite being fully aware that things could go badly. Here’s some wild optimism for a sunny day:
1: PMQ’s might improve.
For ages now Prime Minister’s Questions has been a terrible, soul-crushing imitation of a shit comedy night. Boorish braying, weak one-liners, crap lager (probably)…Nobody likes it. At the same time Corbyn has been roundly (and I think slightly unfairly, he’s quite wry at times) mocked for a perceived ‘humourlessness’ but that in itself could properly wrong-foot Cameron. It’s hard to be glib with someone who isn’t playing.
Also, Cameron was the subject of much speculation pre-General Election that his ‘heart wasn’t in it’ – He’s already said he’ll step down before 2020 – Corbyn is nothing if not thorough. The relentless, mild-mannered, detail-obsessed grind may actually break Cameron.
2: Actual Left-Wing views getting media coverage.
Yes, Corbyn’s going to be torn apart by he media. But at the same time, they will have to report on stuff like PMQ’s. Those ideas will be out there, on Primetime television, in general circulation rather than comment pieces in the Morning Star. It might not sound much, but there may be mileage in just getting these ideas heard. A lot of ‘daft’ Left-Wing things (rail nationalisation for instance) aren’t actually that unpopular with the public when they’re put forward. I don’t think there’s going to be a sea-change in public opinion on, say, Welfare, but one or two things may well take root. I don’t know that all that many people define themselves as ‘left’ or ‘right’ these days. Certainly there’s a lot of confusion – hence Nigel Farage being accepted as some sort of ‘man of the people’. People’ll pick & hoose the ideas that sound sensible. There’s no reason Corbyn’s ideas can’t be presented that way. For instance, hardly anybody actually knows anything about economics, that’s why we get the austerity program framed as some sort of grocery budget on a grand scale – despite various economists pointing out that that’s a daft comparison – it sounds sensible.
3: Shaking up the party
One of the less-remarked upon aspects of Corbyn’s policy is the idea of doing away with the ‘top down’ policy making structure of the party. This, as much as anything, is the thing that gives me most hope.
For one thing it would, in theory, stop things lurching too ‘unelectably’ far to the left – given the make-up of the party.
And on the other hand, much of what I’ve read about the last three leaders suggests that they were overly reliant on a small group of close – and unelected – advisors. Several ministers (T.Hunt, Ed Balls etc) have stated that they tried to shift the focus of the Miliband campaign with little success, Brown was notorious for a siege mentality and Blair apparently decided to go ahead with the Iraq war without really consulting the cabinet.
Now, it’s possible that events would have turned out much the same even if there had been a wider range of views taken into consideration but it might at least have been easier to present a coherent, united front. Especially with the Miliband, it seemed policy was being made up day-to-day, as seemed fit. Bizarre notions that surely someone should have shot down – the anti-immigration mugs, that stone thing – allowed to make headlines and then just fizzle out.
‘Strong Leaders’ are a popular idea, much like ‘auteur theory’ but only really work if they’re either so powerful, borderline dictatorial even, and popular, that everyone else knows where they stand and which way the wind is blowing. That’s not likely for any Labour leader right now and is a tough requirement for any opposition leader generally I would have thought.
4: Probably buggering off after a bit anyway.
This Blog by Dougald Hine presents, what sounds to me, a plausible yet optimistic scenario..
Short version: The likelihood is Corbyn would stand down before 2020 anyway – without being pushed. If, in the meantime, he’s able to reform the party a bit, shift the debate a bit, bring some new, passionate support into the party we might well end up with something ‘electable’ but still ‘different’. Someone young, possibly female, untainted by previous disasters, could take over. Perhaps an end to Labour being the vote that ‘keeps the Tories out’ and something that we might actually want to see in power.
5: IT’S NOT THE END OF THE BLOODY WORLD ANYWAY.
I don’t know what will happen. Neither does anyone else. Two months ago if you’d predicted Jeremy Corbyn would (probably) be leading the Labour party you’d have been laughed at by the political commentators. But weird stuff happens. People are unpredictable. Maybe Corbyn could be Prime Minister, Maybe the mood of the country will turn to socialism, maybe Prince will make another good album…
Some things are unlikely but they still happen. I don’t say that as an out-of-touch leftist who refuses to accept that there’s a world beyond his twitter timeline. I just mean – Nobody knows for sure and there’s definitely no point voting for Yvette Cooper purely because you think there’s a vague chance that, under her, Labour might take Nuneaton in five years.
It could all end very badly, disastrously in fact, but then something else will happen. For all Miliband (D)’s talk of a ‘One-party Tory state’ they only have something like 35% of the popular vote. More people didn’t vote Conservative than did. Even if Labour falls apart…well, sod it. Maybe it’s time. Something else’ll happen. Politics, like many things, moves much quicker these days (Hello Scotland!). It would probably be preferable to have a single, cohesive, united ‘left’ party but…well, Labour haven’t really been that for some time anyway. The sky will not fall.
All the apocalyptic warnings, as well as the evangelical tracts, the endless predictions, the in-fighting, the back-biting, the flouncing and posturing: It’s summer. Something has to fill the papers. If it wasn’t this it’d probably be riots but the weather’s been a bit crap.
So I quite like Corbyn. He says a lot that I agree with, some things I don’t, but generally he’s the sort of person I’d like to vote for. So I will. Because that’s meant to be the point.
Right, not even going to bother editing this.
If you’ve read this far you have my eternal gratitude and pity.
P.S: Inevitable plug for the Corbyn Fuzzy Felt cards I made. 20% to the Corbyn campaign (or Labour party if he wins and I still have any left): Corbyn Fuzzy Felt Cards.