Polls and Electability

Just read Yaron’s post and I had plans to come and write something different but I’ll save it for later and comment on the video he linked us to.

So in the video clip the DJ is upset that the bloke on the phone won’t accept what polls are telling them. I think in that debate James O’Brien is right to punish the caller for delusional thought. Everyone needs to be very cautious and self critical about it.¬† The correct answer to what the polls say¬† – if you’re a supporter of Corbyn – is “Yes Corbyn is currently the most unpopular opposition leader ever but he is my favourite and the favourite of the majority of Labour members. He has inspired a lot of activity in his support and we hope that with 4 years to the next General Election we can gather this into something powerful and interesting.”

Bombing Syria, replacing Trident, Remembrance Day and so on have become strangely about Corbyn. Nothing was ever about Ed Milliband. Whilst Corbyn has been portrayed as being on the losing side of those conversations I think there is potential in it.

I’ve been down south I’ve seen what it’s like down there and so I think it’s going to be very difficult for Corbyn to win the next General Election. There will be more people in wealthy places will feel they have something to loose from him as PM than those who feel they have something to gain. So if he might be unelectable why would anyone support him?

  • A risky strategy is better than a continuity strategy for Labour right now.
  • The possibility¬† of finding out that the electorate is less deaf to egalitarian ideas than the press credit them with is too beautiful to turn down for any socialist.
  • He has already moved the consensus and therefore Tory policy to the left.
  • Either way he’ll provoke some excitement and a greater turnout.
  • There are thousands (including me) who will feel invested enough in Corbyn to campaign for the first time. This is all Labour have right now.
  • Er.. and he has the best policies.

As a side note it’s incredible how those bemoaning Labour as being ‘not an effective opposition’ are also voting with the government in Parliament on Trident. It is the solemn duty of the opposition in the legislative to vote against, every time. Even for those who agree with the motion, it’s about a better quality of argument and better writing of legislation.

For me the big question about whether Corbyn should be leader is not about electability it is about the PLP. They probably won’t stop undermining him some are just plain treacherous and others are genuinely struggling to do their work under his leadership and can’t find a way around it. Here it’s a very hard decision for a labour party member who likes Corbyn because to vote against him would be about surrendering to poor behaviour because those behaving badly are actually stronger than you. Maybe someone else can say something about that.


Corbyn the Unelectable

OK, so I’m getting us started while Debbie battles valiantly with the evil spirit inside her laptop that’s stopping her from posting anything.

This is perhaps the most repeated anti-Corbyn trope since he became our supreme overlord, and I know it’s an extremely tiring and boring one. Nevertheless, here’s a video that has forced me to think about this accusation yet again:


Now, James O’Brien might come across like a harsh person and at times even a bully, but to be fair to him, having witnessed him in conversation with people from different ends of the political spectrum, he is equally harsh with everyone.

Now, yes, the accusation that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable is simplistic, but it is also a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s been repeated so many times and by pretty much every media outlet, that now it feels like unless you’re with Corbyn, you’re against him. Various polls show that other than his supporters, nobody would contemplate having him as leader. This is a problem. On the one hand, I believe deeply in Corbyn’s message, and see him as pretty much the only prominent politician at the moment who’s willing to stand up for what I and many others feel is right. On the other hand, however, his views seem to be incredibly divisive. He has been successfully painted as an uncompromising socialist, and socialism, in turn, has been successfully portrayed as an archaic, naive political and economic ideology, and even a not-so-distant cousin of totalitarianism. In short, much of the country probably views Corbyn as engaging in class warfare, which can be great for rallying the classes to which he’s appealing, but utterly alienating for any classes that feel under attack from his views.

This makes me ask myself: what do I expect from Corbyn? What do I actually want from a general election campaign under Corbyn’s leadership, and what do I want from a Labour government under Corbyn, should one be elected? Do I, at heart, believe that class war is the correct analysis for what goes on in our society? Because if so, then we need to be clear with ourselves about this, which probably means not winning an election. Or, are we truly looking to unite a whole nation, regardless of class and privilege? This has the danger of placing us straight back within the kind of centrist arguments put forward by the Labour Right and by every election campaign over the last 20-odd years. I’m genuinely torn between the two.

What do you think? Is there another way of thinking about this that I’m not seeing?