29 Jun 2016

Au revoir to The Quiet Man

All of you who know me, in the real world or on Farcebook will probably know or surmise that my X has always been for Labour, and you'd be mostly right. Currently my natural party of choice is doing what it does best, tearing itself apart. Regardless of the recriminations and regret over how they got to this place, much like that stupid referendum result, we have to grit our teeth and get on with it. I say "our", but in truth that's a bit wide of the mark, as I have never been a Labour member. I joined the Greens briefly after their relative success in the European Parliament elections in the mid 1980s, but the constant factional infighting that became instantly apparent put me off party membership for life. That said, as a natural Labour voter, I have every right to express my opinion, so here it is:

Jeremy Corbyn will never win a General Election - cue foaming at the mouth by the idealist faction.

He is a quiet and dignified man whose principles guide him, a rare thing in modern politics. Corbyn is a lifelong Eurosceptic, and the fact he had to compromise his principles in the recent referendum debacle, and therefore only reluctantly entered the fray at the last minute, saying too little far too late to make a difference is at least part of the reason why thousands of natural Labour voters, especially in the north of England were not swayed from their misguided intentions to vote Leave. With such a small majority for Leave, Corbyn only had to persuade a few hundred thousand to vote the other way and the result would have been different. The fact that today we see a previously reluctant Corbyn on the news saying that Article 50 should be invoked now, not after we have a new Tory PM at the helm tells you all you need to know. He probably voted Leave himself, and is suddenly becoming forceful over the outcome.

His heart was not in the Remain campaign, that much was obvious from his demeanour, when he was visible that is. A grudging comment along the lines of "I give the EU 7 out of 10" is hardly helpful, and the first time I heard him say Labour had to look at their immigration policy, the major factor for those northern ex-Labour voters, was the day before the vote. Way, way too late. I heard one of those same voters being asked on the news what they thought Corbyn's stance was on the referendum, and his answer was he had "no idea". Much as Corbyn obviously loathes the media, and he has good reason to, if he is to stand any chance in the next General Election, which now could be a lot earlier than expected, he needs his own Alistair Campbell making damn sure he appears every five minutes calling the Tories to account. In fact, forget the GE, that should be happening right now, and it should be like shooting fish in a barrel, but Corbyn prefers to remain near invisible. It frustrates the hell out me, and no doubt countless other Labour supporters away from the membership bubble.

Leaving the appallingly stupid EU vote aside, Corbyn's biggest problem is also the reason he was voted in as leader in the first place. Part of his calm and reasoned manner involves travelling up and down the country meeting real people and explaining his vision, in his consensual manner. Marvellous, I agree, and a breath of fresh air, but unfortunately idealism has not won an election since 1979, and in the modern TV age it is unlikely to ever again. Stump politics may have worked in the 1960s, and arguably a faux version worked as late as 1992, but convincing hundreds of people at a time of your case will not win a GE in the 21st century. Corbyn has failed miserably at communicating his message to the greater mass of the public. You cannot win an election by ignoring the media, especially TV.

Labour will never get back the Scottish vote, assuming they are even part of the UK by the next GE, and so to win enough seats not to get a majority necessarily, but to be able to form a workable coalition, Labour needs to win back its disaffected northern vote, most of whom now don't bother as they feel disenfranchised, and worryingly some vote UKIP. Even more difficult, they also need to get a fair proportion of middle England floating voters to switch sides from the Tories. It will be a very tough call for any leader, and with his current outlook, completely impossible for Corbyn.

Another factor is his seeming lack of gravitas, although to be fair my assumption is yet to be truly tested, but if I'm right, it never will be! All prominent world leaders need a statesman within, and in our recent history, Wilson had it, Callaghan didn't, Thatcher had it, Major didn't - although he seems to have grown into it years too late. Blair had it, Brown didn't. The common factor with all those who didn't is they all failed in the job. Being PM is not a bout being "nice" and "reasonable", it is about making hard choices and dealing with the consequences. Speaking of which, courage and gravitas is astonishingly lacking in that cowardly idiot Cameron, without whom we would not be in this dreadful fucking mess in the first place. Thanks, Dave, you absolute waste of space.

A modern party leader and hopeful Prime Minister has to make compromises every day, and both jobs are a triumph of pragmatism over idealism, that's the real world. Corbyn is no doubt an excellent constituency MP and is a great guy to have on your side if you want a new road crossing outside your local primary school, but PM material? Hardly, he's a back room man, an ideas man, and would make a good Secretary for Work and Pensions, but he is not and never will be PM material.

Unfortunately, the membership will no doubt re-elect Corbyn, the MPs who voted "no confidence" will defect and join up with the few Tories with a human face and a social conscience, and the Liberals...and lo...a New SDP to fill the missing centre, as nature and politics abhor a vacuum. It's 1981 all over again. Consequently the anti-Tory vote is split, Johnson gets in with the most right wing government we've ever seen in this country.

Do the Labour Party want a leader who will lead a marginal socialist rump in the House of Commons, satisfied to sit smugly on the sidelines occupying the moral high ground forever without a sniff of power, or do they want a leader who will be Prime Minister? I am a Labour voter, and to me, that is no choice at all...I might even join to give pragmatism one more vote.

...just thought you needed cheering up...and I haven't even mentioned Trump! Yep, 2016 is most certainly the Year of Stupid. Fangyewandgudnite....

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