Views on how long Corbyn will last as leader vary. Some of my Labour friends insist he’ll be gone within the next two years. However, these are mostly people who were certain, right up until September 12th, that Corbyn wouldn’t become leader in the first place. So I would venture there could be some wishful thinking going on there. For what it’s worth, I think he’ll go into the 2020 general election as Labour leader. I also think that if this is the case, Labour will be truly crushed electorally.
But here’s the thing: whatever else it would be, Labour facing a general election with Corbyn as leader would be a genuine test of all the political rules. And I do mean all of them. This is because Jeremy has broken pretty much every single rule you can possibly think of. Doing things that every leading Labour MP, never mind leader of the party, has assiduously avoided for as long as anyone can remember. Being vocally anti-Trident; saying cops shouldn’t shoot terrorists right after the atrocity in Paris (I realise that is an exaggeration of what he said, but the point remains); openly palling it up with Hamas and IRA members; refusing to divorce himself from Stop the War even when they have gone too far for Caroline Lucas. This summarises the whole situation better than anything: the Telegraph ran an article late last week about how Corbyn had tried to intervene in the court case of a young Somali fraudster who had been funnelling money to ISIS. No one cared, really. If it was any other Labour leader of the last century, this would have been huge news, accompanied by denials, explanations, acres of spin. None of that was necessary in this instance – this is exactly the sort of behaviour everyone, friends and foes alike, expect of the man now.
So when May 2020 comes, we will finally get to see it tested in real life if ignoring every single rule of the political playbook can get you into Number 10. As I say, I really doubt it – but I am looking forward to seeing it put to a real test. Once we’re out the other side of it, the results should be enough for Labour members to finally figure out that the Tories will be in government forever so long as they keep electing leaders who don’t try to avoid breaking even the biggest rules in the playbook. Then again, that’s what was said when Ed Miliband was leader (and he was a veritable anal retentive rule following demon compared to Jeremy) – and look what happened after that played itself out.