That joke isn’t funny anymore: from #Tories4Corbyn to a Very British Coup

corbyn2One day, someone like the Glasgow Media Group, will do an analysis of this leadership election and how the attitude of the right-wing press has changed towards Jeremy Corbyn. It will be fascinating. 

Stage 1: Laughter

It seems like an age ago when it was all jolly larks and #Tories4Corbyn. Smugly and patronisingly, they laughed into their sleeves, safe in the knowledge that Corbyn even being on the ballot would show that the loony left (guffaw) was very much alive and kicking and the Labour Party at large hadn’t changed. By not having changed, of course, they mean not accepting all the tenets of the disgustingly unequal and brutal society that their chums in the city had created. That self-satisfied superiority complex, which seemingly couldn’t be shifted, had been aided and abetted by the Labour Party in Parliament, filled with New Labourites who did just that – who had “changed” and had accepted the rules of the club.

Stage 2: Confusion

Then came the period of incredulity, as the madness of “Corbynmania” seemed to be sweeping the country. What on earth was going on, they wondered? Hadn’t this stuff – like collective values, solidarity, compassion – been left behind in the 80s where it belonged? Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall they understood: they too played by the rules. The deal was, they would let us keep the fundamentals of the Thatcherite settlement in place as long as they could play with the ball occasionally. The “fun” being had at the Labour Party’s expense became a little less sure footed. #Tories4Corbyn faded and turned into “Shock! Horror! Look what the oiks are up to!” They actually believe this crap? Rent controls? Public ownership? Democracy in our education system? Whatever next? Fake indignation and incredulity ruled, but now with a frown.

Stage 3: Anger

Latterly, the terms of reference have turned around completely. As arrogant bullies do, no public acknowledgement of this volte face was to be allowed. But to anyone who has been paying attention, it’s obvious that things have shifted dramatically as the election campaign has gone on and Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign has gathered real momentum, not just in the Labour heartlands, but in the Tories’ own backyards. The chuckles have been swallowed back and been replaced with anger. What the hell? As the movement around Jeremy Corbyn has become a “thing”, evidenced by the enormous crowds turning up all over the country and the rapturous welcome that Corbynite policies were receiving, things have taken a nasty turn. Quietly at first, but then gathering momentum, the word was put out that “this has to be stopped”. As that lad from Manchester once said:

“That joke isn’t funny anymore. It’s too close to home and it’s too near the bone.”

At the time of writing, this latest phenomenon has morphed into an almost a pathological obsession for many in the right wing press. Whereas previously, the writings on Corbyn positively oozed condescension, now you can smell the fear and a strange lack of confidence. It’s starting to resemble something out of a Very British Coup, but every smear story, every outright lie and every petty, personalised attack on Corbyn, his family, or his army of supporters betrays how petrified they are at the thought that, for the first time in three decades, they might actually face a real opposition to their project – not just to this detail, or that policy, but to their whole individualist, consumer-orientated, callous ideology.

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5 reasons why Jeremy Corbyn can win in 2020

  1. Increasing the electorate: The idea of engaging with people who have stopped voting is often dismissed with a remark along the lines of: ‘the trouble with non-voters is that they tend not to vote.’ But this is because many people feel that they haven’t got anything to vote for. Worryingly, between 1997 and 2010, Labour lost 5 million voters, the vast majority of whom didn’t vote for other parties but simply stayed at home. Under Jeremy, all that can change. Even his critics cannot deny that Jeremy is enthusing people who were previously disengaged by politics, as well as crucially, inspiring young people, a group of people who haven’t voted in large numbers in recent elections. 15 million people didn’t vote at the last election. Low turnouts always benefit the Tories and harms Labour’s chances.

    Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally in Glasgow, 14th August 2015

    Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally in Glasgow, 14th August 2015

  2. Winning back Scotland: Winning back Scotland in 5 years will be a mammoth, if not impossible task. But we can only begin this process if we recognise the SNP won a landslide in Scotland largely because it was able to position itself as anti-austerity and more committed to traditional Labour values, outflanking Labour to its left on issues like Trident, tuition fees and prescription charges. Jeremy’s stance on all these key issues chimes with the Scottish electorate and can win people back to Labour. (Similarly, only through this approach can we ensure that Plaid Cymru does not continue to erode the Labour vote in Wales for similar very reasons).
  3. Winning back Green voters: Although the Greens polled a just over million votes nationally, it had a devastating impact on Labour. For example, in Morley and Outwood, in which Ed Balls lost to the Tories by just over 400 votes, the Greens got over 1200 votes. In total, there were 10 seats which Labour would have won had they secured the bulk of the Green vote. Jeremy’s policies connect with many Green voters and members, some of whom have already been won back to the Labour fold.
  4. Winning back UKIP voters: It’s perfectly possible for Labour to simultaneously win back voters to the left and the right. That’s because although UKIP was founded by, is led by and funded by ex-Tories, many ex-Labour voters turned to UKIP not because of its Thatcherism but out of protest and frustration with Labour taking them for granted. Jeremy can reconnect with these voters and indeed it was no real surprise that a recent poll showed he was the most popular amongst UKIP voters. Furthermore, instead of pandering to UKIP’s solutions (remember that ‘controls on immigration’ mug?) which unsurprisingly didn’t work as it only reinforced UKIP’s credibility, Labour can win voters back by highlighting the real causes of low pay, the housing crisis and unemployment and putting forward serious solutions which address these concerns.
  5. Shifting the centre ground: A lot can change in 5 years. If we start to set out a clear and coherent alternative now, we can shift the so-called centre ground of British politics away from Thatcherism and back to where it should be. As long as austerity is seen as ‘common sense’ and the only option the Tories will have the upper hand. Jeremy can win support by putting popular policies like taking the railways and utilities into public ownership back onto the agenda which will translate into electoral support in 2020. His proposals are perfectly workable and credible. In fact, there’s not one policy which Jeremy has put forward whether it be a living wage, public ownership of the railways or rent controls which isn’t already working in practice elsewhere in Europe.
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