Saturday, September 12, 2015

The future's bright, the future's Corbyn

So, another landslide in a British political election - but this one rather more welcome than the last. The fact that Jeremy Corbyn is the new Labour leader is unquestionably a good thing, meaning that the country once again has an opposition party worthy of the name. The last three months have seen a protracted struggle and debate over the direction the party should take, but the election result was decisive, with Corbyn - initially a 200-1 outsider - polling nearly 60 per cent of the vote. Significantly, arch Blairite Liz Kendall was beaten into fourth place, with a paltry 4.5 per cent.

However, cautious optimism rather than triumphalism and grand declarations should be the order of the day. After all, as Owen Jones has commented, winning "the biggest against all odds victory in British political history" is "the easy bit". If we're putting the win into context, then it should also be pointed out that Corbyn may have convinced Labour supporters but now faces the extremely tough challenge of winning over the electorate as a whole. Anyone claiming Corbyn's victory signifies a shift to the left would do well to remember the events of 7th May, which suggested the exact opposite.

It's also worth pondering where exactly this leaves the SNP and the Greens, both of whom campaigned in opposition to austerity. The latter's Caroline Lucas has publicly hailed Corbyn's election as "a real boost for progressive politics", but privately she and her fellow party members must be concerned about the prospect of Labour reclaiming land on the political left that they abandoned under Blair and subsequent leaders. I for one am suddenly inclined to look far more favourably on Labour, and would consider switching my allegiance if Corbyn is as good as his word. How many others might feel the same?

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