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Read between the lines of the Telegraph‘s article and you can see that Conservatives are terrified of Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity.
Corbyn was an instant hit with voters during the Newsnight-hosted televised leadership hustings in Nuneaton, and his policies were more popular than anything suggested by his colleagues on the Labour leadership ballot paper.
So the Torygraph strapline suggests that this has stoked the “fears of centrist Labour MPs and aides”.
Reporter Ben Riley-Smith described his as “far left” and a “veteran socialist” in an attempt to pigeonhole him as something undesirable, and added that the audience’s reaction “appeared to confirm fears of senior party figures who warned Mr Corbyn’s inclusion would encourage Labour to move Left rather than returning to the centre ground after its heaviest defeat to the Tories in a generation”.
These are symptoms of Tory fears. And what exactly does Riley-Smith mean when he mentions “returning to the centre ground”?
This Blog has mentioned the Overton Window before. It’s a concept intended to describe what is politically possible at any particular time. Owen Jones, in his book The Establishment states: “This ‘window’ is relentlessly policed. So, when Ed Miliband proposes a temporary energy price freeze – a welcome, albeit pretty unremarkable policy – it is portrayed by media and right-wing politicians as crypto-Marxism, even though most voters support a far more radical option: renationalising the energy industry lock, stock and barrel.
“Policing the ‘window’ helps ensure that neo-liberal ideas generally favoured by the Establishment are deemed moderate and commonsense; anything that even slightly deviates is written off as beyond the pale.”
Ben Riley-Smith and the Torygraph are trying to police the Overton Window with this article. The Overton Window, in the UK, currently allows for the presentation of political views that only a few decades ago would have been considered right-wing or far-right. The centre ground would represent a significant move to the political left.
So when the Islington North MP declared he would “never consider myself part of New Labour”, he was in fact saying he wanted Labour to move back from the right-wing to the centre ground.
When he criticised Tony Blair for “the promotion of markets rather than the planned economy”, he was in fact saying he wanted Labour to move back from the right-wing to the centre ground.
When he dismissed the need for deficit reduction and called for a “more radical” economic policy than the SNP – which ran on a fake “anti-austerity” ticket at the election that would have cut more spending than Labour – he was in fact saying he wanted Labour to move back from the right-wing to the centre ground.
And even Mr Riley-Smith could not obscure the fact that Mr Corbyn received “the most positive responses from the Nuneaton crowd as he repeatedly called for policies to the Left of Ed Miliband’s election-losing manifesto”.
In essence, he proved that the public wants more left-wing policies, that the Overton Window is out of line with the British people and that Corbyn has his finger on the UK’s pulse.
The claim that “the positive reaction he got from the audience will increase fears among some shadow ministers and MPs that his presence in the race will distract the party from returning to polices that can win the 2020 general election” is merely indicative of Tory terror that someone has arisen who actually wants to promote good government.
In contradiction of the Torygraph, Corbyn has shown that his policies are exactly what Labour needs if it is to win any elections in the future.
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