How things can quickly change within a few weeks in politics, and there is a perceptible sense of things not going back to how they were before. Before 8th June, progressives were in a chronic state of dread and panic, fearing Brexit and the idea of a Tory-dominated future, a whitewash of Labour leaving generations caught hopelessly in a whirlwind of savage cuts and living standard dips.
It felt like the sun had set on progressive politics after Brexit. Britain were leaving the European Union, which for many of us in the age of globalisation represented the only vehicle of progressive action and could act as a buffer against the Conservatives.
Though Corbyn lost he has walked around with the energy of a winner, a man rejuvenated by the public's increasing affection for him. He's everywhere now, they love him, they sing his name and they adore him. Oh Jeremy Corbyn, you hopelessly decent and incredibly flawed man; you really are on the cusp of something incredible aren't you?
Labour are now ahead in the polls. Let that sink in. Corbyn's poll ratings have moved ahead of the Tories. On housing, education and wages, the message of the parties have cut through sharply while the Tories have crumbled swiftly. Labour are strongly on the offensive, hounding the Tories, sensing that they could easily win the next election. They need a swing just under 10% to win the next election, which seems a real possibility given the number of Tory marginal seats that now lie desperately vulnerable and threatened by Labour's newfound radicalism.
The decision of the Tories to go into some sort of partnership with the DUP, in violation of the Good Friday Agreement, is the latest blunder by the government that Labour can capitalise upon. Here is an extremist party with deeply regressive views that are in conflict with British values and holding May and the government to ransom. For Labour, the question to the country should be a clear one: if the Tories cannot negotiate with the DUP then how can they negotiate with the EU? The Tories will be left wondering how damaging this political decision was; there are plenty of Liberal Democrat voters and liberal Tories who are deeply uncomfortable by this marriage of convenience, and for Labour, now suddenly the part of the Remain vote, the counter message has to be clear: they will fight strongly for access to the single market and maintain the rights of EU migrants living here.
Brexit is the defining issue and Labour need to tread carefully here. It's almost forgotten that after last year's referendum, there was an exodus of Labour members and a real sense of anger towards Corbyn for his apathy during the referendum campaign. The tone emanating from the party so far suggests that the party are willing to totally leave the single market, and this could risk alienating the voters so enthused by Labour's manifesto. This has huge significances for British democracy too; Nick Clegg's betrayal in 2010 buried youth interest in political participation until Corbyn came along, but should he betray the trust of the young voters and then it could leave long-term lasting effects on youth turnouts and engagement with politics.
Beyond Brexit and it should still be remembered that Labour lost. To win the Tory marginal seats, and reclaim the lost Labour seats, a message that knits together different sections of society has to be found. And a completely hard-left message will simply not serve a majority victory for the next election; Labour need to subtly change tact when addressing different demographics, which is what the Tories do very efficiently. On welfare, there have been signs that Labour won't actually roll back much of the Tory squeezes but simply mitigate the effects of the cuts by raising wages to ensure that there isn't a dependence upon the system. This is easily something, that well communicated to the public, could resonate with different groups of people from the liberal middle class professionals to the working class households.
On the issue of security and there are many people genuinely unconvinced by Corbyn. The only tactic for Labour here is to remind the country of the cuts the government have made to police and security services at a time of constant terror risks. For Corbyn, he has to set his foreign policy strategy rethink on foreign intervention as a way of reducing terror risks rather than a display of his supposed softness on tyranny and terrorism. The disaster in Iraq and failed exit strategy in Libya somewhat support his principle on this.
Labour are close, so close. Victory is in sight. But a demoralising defeat is still possible. No one expected Corbyn to win before. Now no-one expects him to lose.Suggest a correction