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Saturday 10 June 2017

Jeremy Corbyn Is NOT Finished

John Maynard Keynes, that greatest of economists, put it best: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?” After the last round of local Government elections, in which Labour’s performance was little short of abysmal, Zelo Street did not hold out much hope of Labour even holding its own in the upcoming General Election. The result of that General Election shows that the facts have changed.
The Tories went into the election believing all that had gone before would hold true: the boot boys of the Fourth Estate had destroyed Neil Kinnock, Pa Broon and Mil The Younger. They could therefore be relied upon to destroy Jezza. So Theresa May did the ultimate Faustian deal with the press establishment, promising abandonment of Leveson Part 2 and repeal of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

This ensured that papers like the Sun and Mail would do her bidding, safe in the knowledge that their reward - all past sins swept discreetly under the carpet and carte blanche to carry on misbehaving - would follow. But then it all began to go wrong.

Expectation of Tory victory was predicated on the suicide note being in the Labour manifesto, but it was not. Attacks on the elderly, who had overwhelmingly voted for The Blue Team in the past, dismayed many. Thus the first cracks in the edifice.

Theresa May was an even worse campaigner than even the most pessimistic of her supporters could have imagined. When protesting “nothing has changed … nothing has changed” as she retreated from what was now firmly in the public conscience as the “Dementia tax”, she became just another started rabbit caught in the headlights.

The UKIP vote collapsed - the Kippers failed to turn up in many constituencies - but the assumption that it would mainly go to the Tories was proved wrong. Lib Dem support failed to recover significantly. The splintering of allegiance that had been such a significant factor in elections for the past 20 years faded, and two-party politics returned.

But what proved Corbyn’s approach to be the right one were two elements that the Tories could not match. One was his appetite for campaigning, the willingness to not only address rally after rally, but also meet ordinary people, listen to them, discuss their concerns, and, for Goodness’ sake, demonstrate a little empathy.

Then, two, busting the opinion pollsters by getting all those younger and less well-off voters out to the polls. It was Blair, Brown and Miliband’s great failing that so many of those people became disengaged from the political process.

Some pollsters were recording small Labour leads in the last days of the campaign - but their headline numbers showed the Tories in front, as the results were weighted to show their expectation of who would turn out to vote. They got it wrong.

Labour did not win. But they are now the party with the wind at their backs. The Tories are defensive and fearful, their press backers exposed as corrupt, vicious liars. Jeremy Corbyn offered the voters hope, rather than the cold and miserable gruel of Theresa May. All credit to him for staying the course and changing the facts. Now we must change our minds.


Anonymous said...

"now we must change our minds"

Tell that to Nick Cohen.....

john riches said...

Tim, that is much appreciated - apologies are not much in evidence in politics/journalism generally, so it takes good grace to do it publicly.

Arnold said...

The turnout in England was higher than usual and lower in Scotland. Which makes sense if younger voters increased the turnout. And Scotland has had two more elections/referenda than England, possibly causing voter fatigue. I can't see any other reason why the Tories Dido well north of the border.

sigil said...

In answer to Arnold, I think it's possible that some Tory wins came from SNP-to-Labour switches in areas where the Tories had been a strong 3rd place.

Dan said...

Arnold, if the rumours of Scottish Lab campaign telling people to vote Tory to keep the SNP out prove to be true, that could be a reason too. Hope it's a load of rubbish, still haven't seen evidence, just a Daily Express article, a few tweets, and a FB comment from a friend up there.

Ceebs said...

Arnold, it might not be voter fatigue. Coming up on the vote it was received wisdom that Corbyn was due the electoral kicking of his life. the papers said so, the polls said so, your granny said so and the taxi drivers were saying so. and how might that play out in Scotland? well there the sitting MP's are mainly Scottish nationalists and are fighting the election on the possibility of yet another referendum. so any unionist who doesn't want to see the break up of the UKmay well vote tactically to stop the nationalists, and those will more likely be voting Tory because the other option is apparently useless and is driving everyone to electoral oblivion. How this would play out in a second election this year if one would happen will be an exercise for sharper minds

rob said...

Corbyn did well showing empathy with the electorate that May didn't have. There still remains the question of whether he take the whole of his Party with him, outside of a presidential type campaign time zone, or whether his most vocal support will still want to ditch those they believe are "traitors" to the cause.

It is one thing to criticise the policies of a divisive government but another to get the country back onto an even keel with all the problems that have been left behind. Corbyn may a God to the Labour Party just now but to govern you need more than that as Trump, and to a lesser extent May, has found. He will need all of Labour's broad church and the best brains to deliver that. Not just those good at shouting slogans and reliving past histories.

Those that voted against the incumbents will need a bit more evidence to keep voting for the Party doing OK in opposition, and it's only in the last month or so that they have looked OK, but still an unknown quantity as regards governing material.

We have seen how in the last two years how populism can sway elections/referendums. But they haven't solved any problems and but moreover seem to have exacerbated them.

And let's also remember that May got 50 odd more MPs than Corbyn even with a divisive government and lacklustre campaign. All in all I would say the jury is still out on Corbyn. Let's wait and see.

ashie said...

I'm no fan of JC. Haven't been for decades. But he has tapped into something which people like me failed to spot. The Tories can wibble all they like, but he is the real winner of the election. May is the real loser.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure.
The Tories had a dreadful campaign.
With a new leader and if an election is called within the next twelve months, they may get a majority.
Despite austerity and the victimisation of the vulnerable and disabled, they still increased their vote share by just over 5%.
Turnout was still low considering all those who are affected by policies.
Also, would Labour have more votes if another leader had the same manifesto as Corbyn?
Strange times ahead.


Rivo said...

@Arnold - Tory success in Scotland is down to a few factors. First, the Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson is (by Tory standards) charismatic and progressive, and she successfully distanced herself from the May campaign. Secondly, as the party in power, the SNP were always going to lose votes this election, in due part to the voter fatigue you describe (especially with the prospect of yet another Indy Ref), but also the natural tendency for a governing party to cop the flack for bad things in voters' lives.

Anonymous said...

"When the facts change......"

So there ARE alternative facts after all.

Well I never......

LiamKav said...

The "dementia tax" shows an important lesson I hope Labour remember: it's easy to create an opinion, and hard to change it. The opinion of May as a tough, no-nonsense leader was created a year ago and went unchallenged for far too long. Even once it became more apparent how terrified and out of her depth she is, the public continued to swallow the "strong and stable" stuff. With the "dementia tax" that phrase was used immediately. And once there, it became a noose around the Tories head. I'm not sure who coined the term first, but once it became commonly used, the damage was pretty irreparable.

Martin said...

Response to Zero Street - Corbyn

Interesting read as ever Tim, but I think you’re speaking too soon - please bear with me whilst I explain why.

1. For once in a blue moon, Labour had the winds of fortune blowing their way during this election. The early leak of the manifesto worked out to be so positive that could well have been a deliberate tactic - the media were cock-a-hoop at this apparent blunder and gave it a full day’s media exposure before realising that its contents weren’t so contentious and actually quite reasonable amongst members of the public
2. following this, Labour ended up with a simple message (more about simple messages later) - “our manifesto is fully costed; the Tory manifesto isn’t”
3. the bombing in Manchester revealed Tory cuts on the police - the simple message about 10,000 fewer police and 1,000 fewer firearms officers coupled with May accusing the Police Federation of scaremongering had a huge impact on social media (if the boot had been on the other foot, Lynton Crosby would have had that all over Facebook and YouTube in targeted ads). This was the biggest factor that blunted the “Corbyn/IRA” bag of smears - and it didn’t come from Labour’s media team; it bubbled from the ground up.
4. Britain being frogmarched towards Brexit has had a polarising effect on people who were likely to vote Lib Dem or Green - for many of these people in LAB/CON constituencies, they opted for the party that aren’t UKIP-pandering headbangers. The evidence is seen in Labour winning seats like Kensington (Remain) and losing seats like Mansfield (Brexit). Labour has a confused message on Brexit, but the Remainers are gambling that Labour will become more flexible to events when the economy goes South in the next 12 months as the realities of Brexit kick in
5. Labour depends on simple messages on getting elected, for two reasons - more people hear a simple message, and the media only spend time on Labour if they can give them a kicking. Corbyn’s natural status as a campaigner with a microphone only played well on the TV because of OFCOM rules; not out of the goodness or their own hearts.
6. The billionaire-owned right-wing media isn’t dead. It will lick its wounds and be back. With a vengeance.

What this all means is that Labour didn’t do this well on its own merits. And there are no signs from anyone in Labour that they recognise this.

Furthermore, Labour depend vitally on simple messages delivered in limited windows of exposure. Blair and Alastair Campbell understood this, because they essentially won 1997 on one word - “sleaze”. There is no evidence that Corbyn’s team understand this - remember that the significant factor behind the PLP’s revolt was because Corbyn was contradicting his shadow cabinet in public and because of incidents like that suffered by Lillian Greenwood (who had worked hard on a transport strategy for months before announcing it on a day that Corbyn had decided to reshuffle his shadow cabinet and stealing the limited hearing that Labour gets in the media for himself). This weekend we’ve got lots of people pointing the finger at ‘Blairite MPs’ telling them they need to get behind Corbyn, BUT a real leader needs to look out for his team. Once again, I see no sign that this will happen.

In a nutshell, I suspect that the stars aligned for Labour over the past 4-6 weeks. I’d like to be proved wrong, but I suspect it will be business as usual before we know it.

rob said...

@ Martin
" but I suspect it will be business as usual before we know it."

Very prescient.

As Ian Dunt has tweeted "here is McDonnell still proposing hard Brexit outside single market, against the views of the young people who drove his success."

When will they ever learn?

Anonymous said...

Learn the New Labour lying, war-mongering, mass-murdering, far right, £50K a lecture, line-your-own-pockets tory style, mortgage the young for the rest of their lives, sell out all principles method?

Like that you mean?

No thanks.

Anonymous said...

"Case" dismissed.

rob said...

Sack the "traitorous" judge!