Detractors of Jeremy Corbyn are pushing hard to discredit him any way they can – see yesterday’s article on Alastair Campbell for an example. But the arguments put forward by these critics lack depth.
In his latest article, Professor Simon Wren-Lewis has been exploring whether the Corbyn phenomenon also lacks depth or if there is indeed something to it. It is perceptive in that it examines the issues rather than the personalities, and exposes weaknesses that we all knew existed in Labour policy – but that some of us choose not to acknowledge.
Well, it’s time to acknowledge them! This is only an excerpt from the article and you are heartily advised to visit Mainly Macro for the rest of it.
Whether Corbyn wins or loses, Labour MPs and associated politicos have to recognise that his popularity is not the result of entryism, or some strange flight of fancy by Labour’s quarter of a million plus members, but a consequence of the political strategy and style that lost the 2015 election. They should reflect that if they are so sure they know what will win elections, how come they failed to predict the Corbyn phenomenon. A large proportion of the membership believe that Labour will not win again by accepting the current political narrative on austerity or immigration or welfare or inequality and offering only marginal changes to current government policy. On economic policy in particular they need to offer reasons for voters to believe that there are alternatives to the current status quo of poor quality jobs, deteriorating public services and infrastructure, and growing poverty alongside gross inequality at the top. That means, whether he wins or loses, working with the Corbyn phenomenon rather than dismissing it.
It is nonsense to suggest that the Labour party membership has suddenly become markedly more left wing than it used to be. Corbyn’s popularity has much more to do with how the party in parliament has responded to both election defeats.
The reaction of most of the parliamentary party to the 2015 defeat seems to be that the pre-2015 strategy was right in principle but had just not focused enough in placating the marginal English voter, which they believe means more appeasement and shifting further to the right. The party membership seems to have reacted very differently to the 2015 defeat. The membership appears to believe that the pre-2015 strategy has clearly failed, and it is time to start talking with conviction about the issues you believe in. This is exactly what Jeremy Corbyn does: he is a conviction politician, who is not prepared to try and be someone else to win votes.
If Labour is to have any hope in 2020 it has to start attacking Osborne’s unnecessary and obsessive austerity, as well as getting the past history straight. There are also reasons for thinking that the power of deficit fetishism for voters will steadily decline. In that sense, on this issue and perhaps others, Corbyn seems to have an advantage.
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