Tuesday 18 August 2015

Fraternal comrades

Some of the recent opinion polls in relation to the Labour leadership contest, showing that Jeremy Corbyn may be attracting strong support outside the narrow Labour electorate, have surprised me.  Although I don’t think his views are as far outside the Overton window as they’re being painted, I was nevertheless expecting that he’d have to do a lot more to sell his ideas before seeing that sort of reaction.  I had thought that the Tories, aided and abetted by Labour, had succeeded in securely establishing the window in its current position.
Assuming that he wins – which now looks to be a likelier outcome than I had anticipated – will this last?  Can he build on it until the next UK general election?  I remain dubious.  The Tory-supporting press have barely started on him yet, held back at least in part by a feeling that perhaps a Corbyn leadership might actually help their cause.  But if he is elected, we can be sure that the muzzles will be off in no time at all.
The fact that so many in his own party are so willing to assist the Tories and their allies in rubbishing his views won’t help him either.  With comrades like these, he hardly needs political opponents.  The word of the week for the comrades seems to be ‘credibility’; they all claim that they have it, and that he doesn’t.  Chris Dillow has posted on the possible meanings of ‘credibility’ in this context.  I’m pretty certain that his fourth meaning ("unacceptable to the Westminster-media Bubble") is the one that is driving Corbyn’s ‘fraternal comrades’.
The Sunday Times carried a lengthy hatchet piece on Corbyn this week.  Well, one might say, they would wouldn’t they?  And as this sort of thing ramps up, no doubt there will be those in Labour who condemn the Tory press.  But one of the co-authors of this piece was a Labour man; if they’re willing to say it, they can hardly blame the media for being so willing to use it.
To me, the piece confirmed – as if we didn’t already know – how deeply into bubble-think so many in Labour have fallen.  The whole piece seemed to be predicated on an assumption that all the readers would start from the same place as the authors, and be horrified by the same things.  That simply demonstrates how badly we need a real alternative to be presented.
Amongst Corbyn’s most heinous crimes, apparently, is the fact that his political views haven’t changed at all over the years.  As an example, not only was he elected as an opponent of Trident, he has the nerve to continue opposing Trident.  Everybody in the bubble knows that MPs – especially Labour MPs – are supposed to get sucked into the system and change their views once elected, but this man is so outrageous that he hasn’t done so.  Whereas for many of us, consistency would be seen as a virtue, in senior Labour circles it is seen as something positively dangerous.
That goes to the heart of the problem of Labour, and the problem is very deep-rooted.  A Corbyn leadership will no doubt look attractive to many – he’s certainly closer to my views on many issues than any of the other candidates – but it won’t address the long term problem.  He’ll only be allowed one shot at winning an election before he gets replaced by someone more amenable to the bubble.  Sadly, in the longer term interests of replacing Labour entirely, we would be better off without the short term boost of optimism that he is supplying.

1 comment:

eclecs said...

I am glad that you have paid attention to the Sunday Times assassination piece which seems to have gone unnoticed. The main criticism from the piece ( in my opinion )was not that Corbyn hasn't changed his mind but that he was intransigent or incapable of changing his mind. They are now chucking the kitchen sink at him, including a racism/anti semitic ( or anti Zionist as proposed by Newsnight ) in order to get Corbyn under the 50% threshold. I am wondering personally, rather than being an older Tsipras, Corbyn could well be exposed as weak following the election owing to his lack of political shrewdness since he is mired in an outdated economic philososphy which cannot be turned back in one fell swoop. In the meantime, how will the parliamentary Labour Party react>