This Writer did not stick around for all the punditry after Jeremy Corbyn’s history landslide win of the Labour Party leadership. I went shopping with Mrs Mike instead. Times may be hard but groceries won’t wait.
Judging from the BBC’s coverage, I wasn’t going to miss much. Norman Smith – who managed to make Ed Miliband look good and be branded a “pillock” with a silly question during the general election campaign – showed he hadn’t learned any lessons by spouting babble about Corbyn being out within a year. If that was the quality of the immediate reactions, then Yr Obdt Srvt was better-occupied buying toilet bowl cleaner.
On my return, I found that some social – as well as mass – media commentators had started to express opinions. The first I saw was by Corbyn’s fellow left-winger, Michael Meacher MP: “With four contestants in the running, to achieve 60 per cent of the leadership vote in the first round is an outright landslide.
“Jeremy Corbyn has secured a higher percentage than Blair got in 1994. Even more significant, Corbyn’s electorate at 554,272 was more than double Blair’s, and no less than 76 per cent of them actually voted, a higher percentage turnout than Blair got. And another pointer to the overwhelming inspiration that Corbynmania achieved – no less than 160,000 volunteers were recruited to the Corbyn campaign – far, far bigger than in any similar campaign in the past.”
Why this fixation on Tony Blair? Because Blair’s arrival marked the beginning of huge – and controversial – changes in the Labour Party, changes that were famously applauded by Margaret Thatcher (think on that). Corbyn’s landslide gives him a mandate to change Labour even more radically than Blair – back to what it should be.
No wonder Mr Meacher was delighted: “This is a seminal day in British politics, marking the coming together of the two great conditions needed for transformational change – radical new ideas and a burgeoning social movement on the scale required to push through major change.”
The Daily Mirror was next to attract This Writer’s attention, claiming that the Tories were salivating at the thought of Corbyn as leader: “They see a serial rebel who will not be able to command any loyalty, a man whose foreign policy interventions involve greeting Hamas as ‘friends’ and a leader who will drag his party further from the centre ground.”
The reference to Hamas is of course to a term he used as a matter of politeness, rather than as a description of his feelings – as anybody who has researched the issue will know.
“You can add to the charge sheet his stance on Trident (against renewal), his association with anti-austerity organisations and, horror of horrors, his Republicanism.”
But the Mirror added: “Voters in the Labour leadership were attracted to Corbyn because of his authenticity. His views are obviously not to everyone’s taste but people admire the way he articulates them with sincerity,” before saying he needs to show he can reach out beyond Labour’s reservation(if this means the Labour Party itself, that party is now greatly expanded, thanks merely to his candidacy).
Tories who think Labour moving left will allow them to take the centre ground should think again, the paper says, as “when one party moves further towards its heartlands, the other finds itself pushing equally forcefully, like two repelling magnets, in the other direction”. A far-right Tory Party is unelectable, of course.
Also: “David Cameron, while he is Prime Minister, will no longer have the comfort of working with a leader of the opposition pliable on issues of foreign policy and military intervention.
“Cameron and Osborne will also have to make the case anew for their anti-austerity agenda against an opponent who has been surprisingly articulate when it comes to setting out an alternative agenda.”
More was to follow…
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