By Jack Peat, TLE Editor
Jeremy Corbyn. A man of principal, a man with a vision for the Labour party and a man with a huge mandate to achieve it, but ultimately, a man who is considered to be unelectable come the General Election in 2020.
That is the general consensus. Corbyn is seen as being left of left, anti-capitalism, anti-wealth creation, anti-monarchy, anti-British and out to disrupt the 21st century bubble in which banks are a force for the good, other country’s problems are other country’s problems and defence is a more destructive force than attack. If Labour are out to woo middle Britain, they certainly have a job on their hands with a socialist loony in charge. He doesn’t even wear a tie!
Even those who can relate to his policies perceive him to be a wasted vote. Labour has had a taste of parliamentary success and their supporters know how futile opposition politics can be. The oft-cited Michael Foot era predates much of Corbyn’s young support, and those who remember are quick to remind them of the political wilderness that engulfed the party during that era.
But if the party can unite behind Corbyn, and it’s a big if, they could find that he is the most electable candidate they have.
Here’s five reasons why:
Seats Not Votes
To gain a ten point upswing and win in 2020 Labour has to overcome two fundamental challenges; the voter exodus in Scotland and the boundary shift in England. In neither cases is the answer ‘winning back the middle ground’.
The electorate has changed immeasurably since ’97. Back then 89 per cent of all votes went to one of the three main parties. This year, only 75 per cent went to the three main parties, with the SNP, UKIP and Greens receiving around 6.5 million votes in total, none of which appeal to middle Britain.
If Labour is to compete in the election in 2020 it has to win back vital seats in Scotland and respond to the boundary changes by offering an alternative to the Conservatives. Go down the middle, and the result will be status quo.
Age of Anti-Capitalism
Sir Bernard Ingham, who was Margaret Thatcher’s press secretary, is the last person you would expect to endorse Jeremy Corbyn. Yet in his weekly column in the Yorkshire Post last week, that is precisely what he (perhaps unintentionally) did.
In his words, “modern capitalism is doing everything in its power to make the case for the Corbyns of this world”. Cold-calls, money-swindling sales people, “the endless parade of pimps”. People are growing tired of business without bounds.
This complements a general anti-austerity, anti-capitalist drive which is providing the fuel for political movements across the World. Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the US Democratic Candidate. Austerity has turned politically inactive people into politically active people. It’s estimated that 600,000 people are now registered supporters or members of the Labour Party, and Corbyn has delivered rousing speeches at packed-out rallies across the country. In Llandudno, 1 in every 40 residents went to hear Jeremy Corbyn speak.
The Fabric of Britain
In an article entitled ‘Why Jeremy Corbyn May Be The Best Thing Since Clement Atlee’ in the Daily Mail – of all publications – Gordon Brown’s former spin chief Damian McBride made the case that to understand Corbyn (and his appeal), you need to understand Holloway. Cobyn’s constituency is the smallest in Britain, but one of the most densely packed. You could fit Corbyn’s Islington North inside David Cameron’s rural Witney seat 100 times over, but which better represents the true fabric of Britain?
In David Cameron’s seat of Witney, 93 per cent of the population define themselves as White British. In Islington North, fewer than half do. Just one in 250 of David Cameron’s constituents is black; for Corbyn, it is one in seven.
Britain is a “country with deep social and economic problems, and massive challenges for public services, which cannot be fixed by more of the same”, McBride argues. Unlike Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn believes in the “redistribution of wealth and increased investment in schools, transport, healthcare and housing because these are the needs he sees every day”. Like Atlee, who was unfashionable and disdainful of the media, Corbyn could become the man to represent Britain as it is, not as we believe it to be.
People are Talking
There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about: not being talked about. That is the problem Ed Miliband faced; he just couldn’t get the country excited about his vision. There was no ‘Milimania’ to rival ‘Corbynmania’, and most media personalities only jumped on the bandwagon in the later stages. Corbyn already has the support of Owen Jones, Billy Bragg, Daniel Radcliffe, Charlotte Church and Russell Brand to name a few, and trust me, it makes a difference.
I’d be most interested to see how many people tuned in to watch Prime Minister’s Questions today. Judging by my social media feeds, which have seen politics replace viral dog videos (hurrah!), I imagine quite a few.
The Tories May Just Hand it to Him
The finally reason Jeremy Corbyn could win the 2020 election for the Labour Party is that David Cameron and the Conservatives may just hand it to him.
Every time I see news that Cameron, say, gives peerage to his Tory chums, many of whom were caught up in the expenses scandal, I think, “go on, hand it to them”. Not only have the Conservatives filled the House of Lords with old chums, they surround themselves with fellow Old Etonians and university pals in everyday politics. Soon enough, the public’s patience with elitism will wear thin, particularly if we suffer from another economic downturn or a vote on Europe backfires.
Furthermore, the Tories are at risk of underestimating Corbyn. As Peter McKay writes, “Corbyn might prove to be a better, cleverer leader than Conservatives imagine”. With Dave out of the running for 2020, will George or Boris be able to compete?