We live in an age when if someone says to you at the end of a day, “did you hear about the Corbyn thing?”, you can’t be sure that the questioner and you are thinking of the same thing since there will have been “multiple things” to have occurred to the Labour leader over the previous 24 hours. Like yesterday: I was asked this question and I thought of the poster launch, while the person asking me the question was thinking of Hamas actually praising Corbyn using predictably anti-Semitic language. I’ll talk about my Corbyn thing now.
Jeremy Corbyn launched an election poster yesterday in London. McDonnell was there – Sadiq was not. The poster read “Elections are about taking sides. Labour is on yours.” I found this slogan personally a little creepy (there is a hint of menace and authoritarianism in it), but I guess these things are subjective. Perhaps I’m not part of the target audience for the poster. Given that I live in London and intend to vote for Sadiq Khan, however, this should be a little worrying for Labour.
The questions from the press were all about what you would have expected them to be about. In regards to the current “problems” Labour is having with anti-Semitism, Corbyn said this: “The anti-Semitic issue has been dealt with.” He still sounds more annoyed than sorry on this count by the way.
The really interesting thing that came up was Corbyn’s local election prediction coupled with what he thought a bad result might mean for his leadership. Jeremy predicted that Labour will lose no seats in the locals in England. Given that result would be greatly against the current odds and polls, it seemed brave for a leader of a political party facing some potentially brutal results to be so definitively optimistic. Usually if you know you’re going to lose somewhere, you play it down before hand, not big it up.
But when answering questions about an attempted coup of his leadership, this boldfaced prediction suddenly made sense. When questioned about a leadership contest and if would he stand again, Jeremy said in a very confident manner: “I’m here. I’m going nowhere.” He had spoken before saying this about the fact that he believed the whole idea of a coup had been puffed up by the media anyhow (really? Does he not pay attention in Monday PLP meetings?) and clearly saw the whole thing as an unnecessary distraction. He’s right in a sense. If there is a coup attempt, he’ll stand again and he’ll win again. New polling this morning confirms this. The membership are behind him, so who cares what anyone in the PLP, or even the entire rest of the PLP has up its sleeve? It’s meaningless from Corbyn’s perspective.
Thus, in a sense, so are the elections tomorrow, at least again from a Corbyn point of view. There is no result that he feels would make a difference to whether he leads the party or not, so why not say something cheerful like they won’t lose any seats, even though he knows it’s not true? He won’t be held to account for it anyway. If the elections tomorrow are a slaughter for Labour, he can blame it on Blairites creating disunity or the Tory media or whatever. In fact, Jeremy won’t even have to say anything as others will do so for him.
Like he said, it appears Jeremy is here. He’s going nowhere.