My New Statesman Response To Luke Akenhurst, Labour List, “Jeremy: we’ve tried this before; it doesn’t work.”

My response to Luke Akenhurst’s article on the Labour List website today, saying essentially that Jeremy can’t win because the electorate aren’t remotely left-wing. (Tuesday, August 4th, morning)

“I think, Luke, you have a big problem: the premise of your article is wrong. The “Self-evident truths” you begin with are absolutely neither self-evident or truths. They are things that you wish to believe in based on your view of politics and the world.

Let me just put one or two things to you.

1. Pollsters putting the political spectrum question to the electorate is so biased (from an academic’s point of view) that it doesn’t remotely stand up. The exercise pre-supposes (I suppose) that every voter they interview understands what the political spectrum is and what the terms “Left” “Right” & “Centre” mean. At a conservative estimate, I’d say more than half wouldn’t know.

So effectively, all this polling is a waste of time (though I would like to see pollsters testing the political knowledge and understanding of the electorate (particularly floaters). I believe the results would be staggeringly negative.

2. Perhaps even more importantly, I believe something you and most others don’t: we are in new times. Which means that the Jeremy Corbyn phenomenon is not susceptible to the standard rules of analysis. Current paradigms and models, therefore, do not work.

Being biased myself (all opinions are biased, but bear with), I agree with Owen Jones that the enthusiasm for Jeremy is based on the “fact” that the New Labour model is defunct. It is surely the case that core Labour supporters never liked it, were suspicious of it and only accepted it  and its values with great reluctance. Now, in 2015, when we have a government forcing through laws & other actions based on a hugely damaging but hugely powerful ideology, tearing at the fabric of the post-1948 state, careful, “moderate” responses based on trying to win segments of the electorate perceived to have been “neglected” is totally inappropriate. Liz, Andy & Yvette are all in this camp. When a party in power is overturning the essential structure of the state, if you don’t agree with it, you have to oppose it totally.

Jeremy supporters either sense or understand the depth of this crisis and know that their guy is the only one confronting this enormous peril facing them (us). If Luke and others cannot grasp this, then they’re sidelined. But more than this, and more worrying for “moderates”  – but great for us socialists – is what seems to be a “fact”: people in, but also beyond the Labour world are supremely attracted to Jeremy’s values. They hold these values themselves. Those attacking Jeremy don’t believe that this is possible, and here I again disagree with Luke. We will only know whether Jeremy and his values can win a General Election when we get a raft of opinion polls which, stripping out a generous margin for error, show Labour well ahead of Conservative and Jeremy himself with a high personal rating with the electorate.

Above all, Luke, the sooner you accept that triangulation, caution, positioning and all that tactical stuff in party politics is useless against the Tory right-wing, free-market military machine, the sooner you might cheer up. And you should cheer up. We are all capable of change. Corbynism, dare I use that term, is the way forward for the Labour Party. As each day goes by with bigger and bigger crowds coming out to hear him, the more this becomes blindingly obvious.”


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