Saturday, 11 July 2015


It seems the unthinkable is happening and Jeremy Corbyn's quixotic bid for the leadership of the British Labour Party is gaining momentum.

Of course, this is being met with howls of gless rom the right, who are portraying Corbyn as some species of dinosaur that has emerged into the sunlight of the modern world, blinking confusedly and roaring ghastly doctrines of ages past.

Many are claiming (I suspect mendaciously) that they have coughed up the three quid to register as Labour Party supporters with the intention of voting for Corbyn to sabotage Labour's chances in 2020.

(If any are really doing this, they are naive - the knives would be out for Corbyn long before that if he was not succeeding - and the Tories might find themselves confronting the sort of candidate they are trying to block just now.  ALso, frankily, if I wanted to sabotage Labour, I'd vote for Andy Burnham - a bit slow, tainted with Blairism, the man rejected in 2010 in favour of Ed Miliband, short ... the opportunities Burnham affords are endless!)

Corbyn would likely appreciate his position in a way Blair did not. He would understand he is at odds with his party. After all, he has been for his entire political career. That's why a Corbyn lead party would not be 1983 all over again.

The Blairites would know they can't stage another SDP style spilt - the example of what has happened to the Lib Dems will warn them off that. Corbyn, if he is smart (and no-one thinks he's stupid, for all some think he's wrong-headed) will run a party based on consensus and finding common ground, rather than imposing the leadership's diktat.

(Though bear in mind 1983 saw the Conservative vote decline, and the combined Labour-SDP vote topped 50%. And Thatcher's 42% of the vote in 1983 seems like a fantasy figure to Cameron and his cabal of unappealing oiks.)

He would not immediately impose collectivism, the nationalisation of corner shops and underwear sharing on the nation. He would have to seek a consensus between the competing ideologies in Labour, which the right wing of the party never had to do after it seized control of the party in the 90s.

It would be a return to a 'first among equals' style of leadership, rather than centrally controlled by a tight clique obsessed with imposing its will on the party.

He wouldn't be able to purge the right, the way Blair purged the left. He'd need to find accommodation and common interest. While a lot of people in Labour disapprove of his opinions, most seem to like the man - so he might well be able to forge such an alliance.

He will of course be vilified in the right wing press. But he's pretty used to that. The problem for the right is that the things they will attack him for are actually solid principles. People will recognise that.  And, bluntly, some of the things he'll be attacked for may backfore spectacularly on the Mail and Sun. I imagine he could deal with the Sinn Fein supporter smear simply and directly: "What I advocated in 1984 was policy in 1994. Because of those ten years of intransigence, while mainstream politics caught up, about 850 people were killed. That isn't something to be proud of."

We like principles, even when we don't agree with them. The reason people came to loathe Blair was the perception of hypocrisy - the equivocation on his faith, the wealth, the influence peddling and money worship.

That said, it still seems unlikely he will win.  Support for the three neo-Blairite candidates will coalesce as the field of candidates narrows down.  And he'll be offered the Deputy Leadership of the party as a sop to the left, as Blair did with John Prescott.

Hopefully, Corbyn would tell them what to do with their sop.

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