Jeremy Corbyn appeals to Labour members who want a party of protest, rather than one that can get power. This is about ideologically beating the rest of the left, not winning over the electorate.
At the Hay Festival event “What Do We Do Now?” with Nick Cohen, the left discussed the 2015 election result. Audience opinion during Q&A: the electorate had got it wrong. What they needed was left max to show them the error of their ways. Ed Miliband was left lite, not the real thing let alone the real deal as a Prime Minister in waiting.
Cohen’s recent must read article “Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party: one of them must go” talks about how the parliamentary system (which does not support Corbyn) is at odds with what party members want with a Corbyn presidential style support. I share the pessimism of the piece. It signifies a desire for sublime protest without compromise, rather than politics which appeal enough to win a General Election.
Electoral wisdom once was you had to meet the electorate with their concerns and wants. The left are rejecting this need to appeal for the centre ground. With some popular policies – renationalise the railways, end tuition fees – and the electorate will get back into line, however far off the tracks you are.
Corbyn is meant to be the candidate worth voting for. He will give you the real thing – a left party in government. How he does that, without winning over enough of the electorate that voted Conservative, does not matter. This is about rekindling enthusiasm for Labour members, having bought into the emperors new clothes that Labour had on for the 2015 campaign. The result showed to the party just how naked the rest of us saw them.
The SNP, Greens and Plaid Cymru will never be allowed to upstage Labour again with the mantle of the left, seems to be the rallying cry of Corbyn supporters. Ignore the Greens lost about a quarter of a million pounds in lost deposits at the general election. Or that Labour membership has been quite solid in recent years.
Discount Nick Cohen telling the audience at Hay about 58% of the electorate voted for parties with the deepest cuts to the deficit planned. Labour members instead want to have the discussion among themselves to learn the lessons, and ignore those that had warned Ed Miliband was a disaster from the start. They have concluded they just need a seasoned man of the left to inspire the electorate to vote for them. To hell, once again, with what the media is saying.
As Labour MPs plan coups, the media report how Corbyn is no Prime Minister in waiting, that associations with bigots are too numerous to be let off with just ignorance of their views – this misses what members are wanting when voting for Corbyn. This is about The Labour Party becoming a protest movement to beat them all. The need for credibility on the economy, statesmanship in international affairs, understanding how the world actually works – the needs of government – no longer apply.
The Conservative Party have understood the electorate better. They get how legislation allows them to transform the nation on ideological lines. They get the need for compromise, negotiation and fancy presentation to win polling day by galvanising the centre ground to vote for them. That is why they won in 2015 – by being a political party seeking power by getting a mandate from enough of the people.
Labour’s transformation from political party to pressure group may appeal to relatively new members and the old guard hard left activists. Enjoy being on the streets campaigning for change rather than in the corridors of power making it happen.
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