The Blog


Corbyn will ironically restore Labour's chances of winning by 2025 if not sooner. How soon will depend on how dexterous he is playing the great British political game, predictable but not certain.

PR conscious Parliamentary Labour Party is in a bit of a shock. First having lost the election dismally despite carefully controlled portrayal of a 'responsible' party and now Labour's antithesis of discipline, Jeremy Corbyn is on the verge of taking over the Labour leadership. Blair, Johnson, Campbell and a few others are warning anyone who might listen that the party faces oblivion if Corbyn gets in.

Corbynitis, the phenomenon that has sparked 'home coming' excitement in the youth, the ideological migrants from Labour to other refuges such as Socialist Party, and the giant Unions is alarming the luvvies and the maturies. Many of them are foretelling 20 years of life in the wilderness. Campbell even has visions of the political grave for Labour. How wrong they might be!

This is a cyclical pattern in British politics. A party wins. In Government, faced by civil servants and obfuscation it develops ideas and popularity fatigue. It messes up the economy or events mess it for it. Since no party has yet found Brown's holy grail of 'no more booms and busts', people get fed up with the bust periods. It loses. The electorate gives the opposition a chance.

The losing party goes into bunker mode, 'back to basics'. The various factions within it push for 'core values' with each little group having its own ideal of core values. The fundamentalists chose leaders they think represent those core values. For a while they forget the electorate beyond. It is womb time and party goes into gestation for a few years. It does not work. The electorate is selfish, thinking of house prices, jobs and kids' schools instead of nuclear disarmament, Euro exit and the final solution promising nirvana on earth. Leaders come and go through the swing door as one group fails with its leader, the other hard core group pushes its messiah forward.

Then the penny drops. In a democracy it is the electorate that counts, stupid! A mesmeriser emerges who can talk in forked tongues.

The new leader sees the light and starts to negotiate some of the core values to win over the wider electorate and make the fundamentalists believe their beliefs are safe. A PR team is chosen that does this deftly. After a few tries, Party wins as the one in power messes up, becomes sleazy or goes into internecine warfare.

So it happened after Labour party lost following Wilson-Callaghan Government. There was Foot, Kinnock and Smith before slick Blair came on the scene. He could talk in many tongues. He maintained the mirage of core values but was effectively beating with a Thatcherite heart. Brown could not keep the mask long enough. The two of them cut welfare costs, reduced the national debt and privatised like an American Republican frothing with Rabies.

When Thatcher exiled Labour out of power, she too gave the Tories an illusion of right wing fiscal responsibility. She threw enough working class people out of jobs and punched the Unions black and blue. She excited 'gung ho' Britain reviving imperial glory fighting a few weak armies around the world but at the same time sold UK Plc to foreign funds and companies. Welfare costs increased during her time, national debt went a bit out of control and she refused to privatise Socialist Britain wholesale.

After Thatcher came the series of core right wing leaders, William Hagye, Ian Duncan Smith and Michael Howard . Then came Cameron who like Blair is an illusionist. He conjures images of right wing despotism over liberal views, but is a Europhile, bit generous to those in need and seems to have no appetite to privatise the NHS in the way Labour did.

That Labour members are flocking to Corbyn, is simply following pattern. Under Miliband, Labour's core voters had started to drift away, just as its core Essex voters did under Callaghan in favour of Thatcher. What the other candidates are offering is a flip side of Toryism laced with focus group fine tuning without assuring Labour's core voters that their values are sacrosanct. They don't talk the faith.

Corbyn restores the confidence of core voters. He is bringing the drifters back to shore. If Corbyn is smart, he may not make the mistake of Foot. He is already talking of socialism with a growth agenda, rather than just a redistribution agenda.

Corbyn is the first person in recent memory clearly making the ideological difference between Labour values and Tory values. He is suggesting that welfare has to be paid for through growth. The Tory mantra is that growth has to be encouraged by cutting welfare. If Corbyn shows pragmatism, he may begin the negotiating of some core values with the wider electoral pool during the third year, two years before the next election. If he doesn't, he will have made Labour restart the process of winning by securing its core voters and give way to another leader.

British democratic politics is a predictable phenomenon. Political parties depend on retaining their core voters, gaining voters from the floating pool and then poaching the less loyal from the other party. It is a simple game plan in a simple democracy of simple majoritarianism.

In fact if any of the other three candidates becomes leader, Labour is unlikely to win an election for 10 years. They have become too much of 'tweakers' under the shadow of Osbornomics and have taken the core for granted. Corbyn on the other hand will ironically restore Labour's chances of winning by 2025 if not sooner. How soon will depend on how dexterous he is playing the great British political game, predictable but not certain.