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Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Corbyn Delusion Is Bust

As the dust settles from Thursday’s local and Mayoral elections, the familiar refrains can be heard from those in and around the Labour Party who still believe that Jeremy Corbyn has anything more than a snowball in hell’s chance of walking across the threshold of 10 Downing Street on the 9th of June: all that is needed is for the party faithful to campaign harder, the polls will close, and ultimately, victory will be theirs.
Now, here on Zelo Street, Jezza has been backed when the press has gone OTT in smearing him - but also called out for his shortcomings. Yes, I know there will be the usual dismissal of what is going to be said - “You’ve lost all your credibility”, “You said this before and you were wrong”, and no doubt “This link shows why you’re the one who is out of touch” - but I have to tell all you Corbyn fans that the game is finally up.

All the excuses have been heard before. “It’s all the Blairites’ fault”, “Jeremy has faced massive disloyalty”. Every Labour leader had had the awkward squad to deal with - even Blair. The Labour awkward squad was what drove Harold Wilson to call the 1975 referendum on membership of the then EEC. The awkward squad might have stopped Clement Attlee becoming PM after Labour’s 1945 landslide victory.

We hear of how principled and sincere Corbyn is. Voters do not disagree. They just don’t want to vote for him. Some Jezza fans tell us the poll numbers are closing, with the Tories “only” 11% ahead. Right. Look at the right-wing press baying and hollering this morning. D’you think they’re frightened at the prospect of their chosen party being “only” 11% in front? Jezza is agreed to be hard working. But the voters no longer care.

Look at yesterday’s results. Labour LOST the Mayoral elections for Tees Valley and - far more importantly - the West Midlands. They LOST. The Tories WON. Look at some of the councils Labour lost. Derbyshire. Yes, they lost f***ing Derbyshire. Derbyshire, where not so long ago there was no point in the Tories turning up. They lost Derbyshire. Working people turned out to vote … for the Tories. The Tories WON Derbyshire.

Am I getting through here? Labour LOST control in Nottinghamshire. Another county the Tories should never have got near. They LOST Lancashire. They LOST Glasgow and the Tories WON council seats in Glasgow’s east end and Paisley’s Ferguslie Park. Labour LOST council seats by the dozen. At a time when we have a Tory Government that has redefined what it means to be utterly, totally, and all too visibly useless.

We now hear that all those activists who turned out, on their own time, to campaign for Labour were somehow not campaigning hard enough, that if they door-knocked more enthusiastically, all would be well. Whoever is polishing that particular turd should go and tell all those Labour supporters who gave their all, for no payment, just how lacking in enthusiasm they were. And while they’re at it, tell all those hundreds of councillors who got voted out that they were somehow not campaigning hard enough.

Now it seems that there will be a Labour fightback. This will be led by John McDonnell. Just how serious is a party who puts John McDonnell up as its best shot at a fightback? The Tories and their cheerleaders will be licking their lips at the prospect. He puts his head above the parapet and it will be shot off in short order. One peep from McDonnell and the Tory attack dogs will shout “IRA sympathiser”. And more votes will be lost.
What’s that you say? The media is against Labour? So what are you Jezza supporters going to do about it, sit there and f***ing whinge? A rabidly hostile media didn’t stop Sadiq Khan seeing off Zac Goldsmith. It didn’t stop Andy Burnham - who, remember, could have been leading Labour - from wiping the floor with all-comers in the Greater Manchester Mayoral election. Whining about the media is like a seafarer whining about the sea.

Corbyn’s supporters need to get real. How real? Consider this headline from Independent Voices yesterday: “As a Momentum member, I'm not disheartened by Labour's losses in the local elections”. That’s Rachel Godfrey-Wood saying she isn’t disheartened. Well, hello Rachel and all those who agree with that view. You damn well should be disheartened.

Your side just got trashed. And in just under five weeks’ time, barring the kind of miracle that ain’t about to appear, you can pretend not to be disheartened when Labour is reduced to a Parliamentary presence no better than it had in 1935 (154 seats, to save you looking). And oh look, Rachel has another snappy soundbite for us all.

The local elections results don't reflect the support Jeremy Corbyn has across the country as the anti-establishment candidate many voters are looking for”. Er, hello? The local elections DO reflect Corbyn’s support - all too well. If many voters were looking for him, they would have turned out to vote. They did not. Worse, they will not.

But Rachel is not finished: “these local elections are not nationwide and exclude pretty much everywhere that Labour’s vote share has been improving”. So the MPs that Labour lose across the country next month don’t count, eh? Only the ones where Labour manages to hang on. Because hanging on is the best the party can hope for right now.

When you have voters who say yes, they think Corbyn is an honest and principled man, yes, they would trust him to do what he says he’d do, yes, they like his policies and think they would benefit, but then glaze over at the prospect of voting for him, the game is up. All those voters who Labour needs to get into power are not being swayed. And they are not going to be swayed, no matter how many members the party signs up.

To make those changes on which they campaign, Labour needs to be in power. There is no other point in campaigning. Without power, all that is left is a protest movement. In other words, a big group of people all imbibing the Kool-Aid and shutting out the real world, safe in the reassuring knowledge that theirs is the one true way.

Meanwhile, the poor, the homeless, the disabled, the young, the elderly, the sick, the single parent families, the racial and religious minorities, all will get ritually screwed over. Because a protest movement is sod all use to them.

And on election night, there will be the Tory boo-boys whooping and hollering. It’s a sound I heard in 1983 when Labour last got badly trashed. A sound I heard just two years ago. It’s a sound I’m sick to the back teeth of hearing. And it’s what all those defeated Labour candidates are going to hear next month.

More loyalty is not going to cut it. More campaigning will not solve the problem. What will improve matters is to get real and stop pretending. Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian has it right: it’s Jezza who needs to carry this particular can. The Corbyn myth is bust.

13 comments:

Spenny said...

What's most interesting to me in all this is that it seems like it's not that people who don't like Corbyn just aren't voting, they're actively transferring to the Tories. I'd be very interested to know the reasons behind this.

john riches said...

It's a bit strange Tim, you call Corbynistas out for whining, but every few weeks you have the biggest whine of all - and then, as usual, come up with no alternative. Be brave, nail your colours to a mast.

Nikola said...

Well, I for one, certainly am very discouraged but I doubt the sudden departure of Corbyn & Co will improve Labour's prospects at this stage in the game. What are we to do, abandon all hope?

Rick Glanvill said...

I sense a misconceived “spirit of the Blitz” catching hold of many older voters, evoked by Tories’ anti-EU/foreigner rhetoric, and almost
primal. A Spirit of Brexit, depressingly.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

John Riches urges Tim to nail your colours to a mast.

Now there's a man who doesn't know his Attlee:
Trouble with Winston: nails his trousers to the mast. Can't climb down.

Oh, for the Corbyn clique, another Clem gem (Labour Conference, 1948):
I believe that the foundation of democratic liberty is a willingness to believe that other people may perhaps be wiser than oneself.

Siepert77 said...

Corbyn will need to see this one through, but there needs to be a clear signal that he'll step aside when the inevitable happens. That way people can vote for their local candidate coupled with the hope for a better future leadership. It's somewhere between crumbs and fuck all, but that's where we are.

john riches said...

Tim, as a Corbyn supporter I've never been under any illusion that he can win this time round; in fact, last year I had it from a very senior Labour person - an Owen Smith supporter at the time - that all the top brass understand that Labour cannot win the next general election (at the time seen as 2020), whoever was the leader, because of the electoral arithmetic. So Corbyn will lose, but it won't - all - be his fault. It will be a complex mixture of his faults, PLP undermining, the media, and the general rightward drift of British life. Hysterical articles like this don't get anywhere near the truth I'm afraid, and it does you a disservice to keep wheeling it out every few weeks.

And I would be happy to make a small wager that the margin will be closer to 5% then 11% on the day.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

@ john riches:

last year I had it from a very senior Labour person - an Owen Smith supporter at the time - that all the top brass understand that Labour cannot win the next general election (at the time seen as 2020), whoever was the leader, because of the electoral arithmetic.

Forgive me pointing out that was largely based on the assumption that 2020 would be fought on the revised Electoral Commission boundaries, and a 600-seat Commons.

Whether a large Tory influx in the Commons would countenance a smaller House and certain Tory losses in 2022 remains to be seen ... My guess would be job-security trounces electoral changes every time.

Just one more for the those of the Precious Chosen Few ("let all the rest be damned ..."):

He who would lead must articulate the wants, the frustrations and the aspirations of the majority. Their hearts must be moved, so his words must be attuned to their realities. If he speaks in the old false categories, they will listen and at first nod their heads, for they hear a familiar echo from the past; but if he persists, they begin to appreciate that he is no longer with them. He must speak with the authentic accents of those who elected him. That means that he should share their values, that he is in touch will their realities.

That's Nye Bevan, as quoted by Neil Kinnock to Labour Conference, 1983.

john riches said...

'Forgive me pointing out that was largely based on the assumption that 2020 would be fought on the revised Electoral Commission boundaries, and a 600-seat Commons.'

I don't need to forgive you, thanks, as he said 'regardless of the boundary changes' - he was talking about the historic shift away from Labour, and how it would take years to turn it around.

Rivo said...

@Spenny - "What's most interesting to me in all this is that it seems like it's not that people who don't like Corbyn just aren't voting, they're actively transferring to the Tories. I'd be very interested to know the reasons behind this."

Not the only factor, but anyone who dared express anything other than total adulation for JC and was subsequently told they might as well just be Tories perhaps did just that...

Anonymous said...

@Malcomm Redfellow
"I believe that the foundation of democratic liberty is a willingness to believe that other people may perhaps be wiser than oneself."
And that would be a man who believes in party policy or a Blairite who thinks he knows best? A Blairite who speaks "with the authentic accents of those who elected him", Assuming he is elected by his old chums from public school?

Malcolm Redfellow said...

@ Anonymous, 15.11 hrs:

For Nye Bevan old chums from public school would now be very old, and involve Sirhowy elementary school. For Neil Kinnock it would be Lewis School, Pengam.

In both cases, the accents were "authentic".

Anonymous said...

@Malcolm
He said 'with the authentic accents of those who elected him.'

Or as they said of keeping John Prescott, "He can at least talk down to the working classes in their own accent."