Monday, May 09, 2016

Could Corbyn possibly win in 2020 ?

A number of my left-wing friends - I do have some - have been pointing to the better Labour results last week - they did have some - and suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn's performance was not as bad as the media are making out.

Perversely, I think Tories would be wise to pay some attention to those messages while Labour supporters would be wise to read instead assessments by pundits such as Peter Kellner and Andrew Rawnsley, who argues that Labour's awful showing last Thursday was the worst performance by a new opposition leader in half a century.

Complacency is nearly always a mistake.  Conservatives need to learn the positive lessons where we did well - e.g. look at how Ruth Davidson achieved our best result since devolution in Scotland - and also learn from where we did less well.

Is it likely that Jeremy Corbyn will ever win a general election?

Of course not.

Is it possible that Corbyn or another far left leader such as John McDonnell, could get enough votes to form a government?

Unfortunately the answer to that one is yes.

Sooner or later there will be another world recession and although the British economy is a lot healthier than it was in 2010 we have still not got rid of the deficit and are not in a brilliant place to weather that recession. If it hits at the time of an election a lot of ordinary voters will suffer and will naturally ask why the government failed to protect them.

Then there is the problem of the government's tiny minority. With a formal majority of 12 and an effective one (because of Sinn Fein not voting) of 18, any Conservative government in this parliament, like John Major's before it, is at the mercy of the "nine madmen" factor. No matter how well this government is managed, there will continue to be U-turns and rebellions, especially of the government tries to actually do anything.

And of course, there will be the problem of putting the Conservative party back together after the referendum. While some of the talk of splits is grossly exaggerated by the press - and Labour is more divided on just about everything than the Conservatives are, even on Europe - it would be stupid to pretend that there are not going to be some people, whichever way it goes, who are spitting mad about the referendum result. We need to make sure that the referendum campaign is fought on both sides with as much mutual respect and honesty as possible so that people can work together afterwards, whichever way it goes.

We cannot assume that Jeremy Corbyn will be Labour leader in 2020, either. In the unlikely event that Labour's moderates have the guts to try to move against him the way the Conservatives defenestrated IDS in 2003, their chances do not appear good. But politics can be a funny game.

So here is the final irony. If the Conservatives treat the threat from Corbyn's Labour as serious and work hard to co-operate, to deliver the things which the British people want, and to fight the next election all-out, we can almost certainly win.

But if Conservatives take for granted that Corbyn could not possibly win and get complacent, fight amongst ourselves, forget the things the public elected us to do, then you know what - Labour might just do well enough to prevent us getting enough votes to form a government.

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