Saturday, July 01, 2017

The Corbyn Conundrum - part two

Believe it or not, Jeremy Corbyn does have something in common with his arch-enemy Tony Blair - both managed to get coalitions of voters with widely disparate beliefs and hopes supporting them.

Indeed in Corbyn's case it is all the more surprising because he has attracted support from people who want things which he has made no secret he opposes - for example, the pro-Remain young people who have been supporting Corbyn and Labour because they felt betrayed by Brexit, apparently not noticing that labour is all over the place on the EU. Most Labour MPs were pro-Remain, Corbyn himself has been an opponent of the EU for decades, and appears to have reverted to a "hard Brexit" line since the referendum.

As the Evening Standard put it here in response to Remain supporters like Gina Miller who professed herself "astonished" that Jeremy Corbyn sacked pro-European frontbenchers,

"We suspect it will take many more such acts of infidelity with socially democratic,  pro-European Britain before the truth dawns: in Mr Corbyn they have not found that special person in their political life who will deliver a kinder, gentler and more united country.    Instead the hard-Left cabal that surrounds the Labour leader intend to divide and rule."

But no matter how much I may personally consider that arguments about the damage Corbyn would do to Britain are valid, such arguments will not on their own defeat him.

There are many people who want change, and only a vision which gives people something positive to vote for will win the next election. "Project Fear" only narrowly won the first Scottish Indyref, failed to win the EU referendum and failed to give the Conservatives a majority in GE17.

I have read three good articles in the past few days about Jeremy Corbyn, his appeal and how to defeat him. The first is by Rod Liddle in the Spectator,

"Jeremy Corbyn represents change: and for many that's enough."

Here are some extracts:

"One of the most disappointing things about the general election for me was how few people must have read Nick Cohen's article, "Why you shouldn't vote for Jeremy Corbyn." before entering polling booths on 8 June. Or perhaps they did read it and thought: up yours, mate. The more I think about it, the more I suspect it’s a case of the latter.

"Mr Cohen, quoting from a Labour party member, listed the perfectly sensible reasons why sane people would not want Corbyn as prime minister. These included, but were not confined to: his support for the IRA and opposition to the Northern Ireland peace process; his admiration for the genocidal anti-Semites of Hamas; his infantile leftism in general; his appearances on Iran-backed Press TV; his readiness to negotiate with Argentina over the Falklands; his general incompetence… and so on, ad almost infinitum.

And then, come election day, the public marched down to their local church or school and gave Corbyn’s Labour the biggest increase in its vote share since 1945. The opinion polls now put him well ahead — if they are to be believed (which I always doubt), and"  (suggest that if) "an election were to be held tomorrow, Labour would win. So what has been going on?"

"In the two weeks before polling day, the press and media laid into Corbyn on a daily - nay hourly - basis on precisely the points that Nick outline. And every time they did so, the Labour vote went up a point or two in the polls."

"Elections in Europe and the USA have been characterised by a profound and growing anti-establishment sentiment on behalf of the electorate. And it can be an anti-establishmentarianism of the left or right or even, as we saw in France, the centre.  What a growing proportion of voters want is "change" and a good many will vote for change regardless of what sort of change is being offered."

"At times like this, then, it is inadvisable to appeal to the electorate with a bland promise of continuity."

"So Corbyn benefitted by being a genuine 'change' candidate -  a potent selling point which still pertains today ..."

You can read the whole article here.

Also worth reading: Andrew Lillico on CapX wrote that "All that matters now is stopping Corbyn."

A view with which I have considerable sympathy, and the article has some good insights, but on its own that argument will not win an election.

Graeme Archer, also on CapX, asked

Who will save us from the Corbyn terror?"

The headline someone has put on the article is a bit melodramatic and silly. The article itself makes some excellent points about why people might think it makes sense to vote for Corbyn - and what we might do to actually address some of the real problems which might make people think that.

For example Graeme suggests we should build more homes for people, and I agree with him.


Anonymous said...

Markets are pricing in a collapse of the Maydup coalition and the rise of JC

Chris Whiteside said...

We shall see - perhaps they will finally break their losing streak and be right about something. Don't hold your breath.

I seem to recall the markets pricing in a "Remain" vote, a Hillary Clinton presidency, a Conservative majority in 2017 and a hung parliament in 2015 instead of the other way round.

If I were a betting man I'd suggest the best assumption to work on is that the exact opposite of what the markets are expecting will happen.