Anyone who isn’t part of the Church of Jeremy will conclude that the Labour general election campaign has got off to a bad start. The day the election was called by May, I did up a Labour election bingo card. Every single event I predicted then has already taken place, and parliament hasn’t even been dissolved yet: Corbyn getting into problems on a question of national defence, Thornberry saying something derisive about Englishness, Keir Starmer giving a speech on Brexit that contains at least one gaping logical paradox. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop.
But I think the one that is really going to sink them is unavoidable, unless they really do manage to get rid of Corbyn last second. It’s this, “Corbyn sucks and won’t be prime minister, but a vote for your local Labour MP isn’t a vote for Corbyn but for that individual alone” thing they’ve devised. For I can see exactly why they are doing it, and there is probably nothing else they can do under the circumstances, but I just don’t think it’s going to work. At all.
In a general election, people tend to vote for the government they want – or at least would mind the least. Of course, there are sometimes local factors that outweigh this (otherwise, the Lib Dems/Liberal Party would have completely died a long time ago), but it is a hard thing to overcome. Saying Corbyn isn’t going to win so why not prevent a Tory landslide is not very inspirational stuff, is it? I figured out a long time ago that with voting there is a certain amount of group think that sets in, and people – and I still find this weird, but I also still find it’s true – tend to like to back the winner. In other words, a campaign pitch that says that although you would rather have a piece of putty run the country instead of Jeremy Corbyn, you should vote Labour because Corbyn is so obvious terrible he’ll never win…..again, however you slice it, this isn’t a compelling campaigning premise.
Like I say though, what else can they do? Well, they could split off into a separate group for the purposes of the election campaign only, swiftly elect a leader or anoint one (Yvette Cooper, say) and then campaign like mad to try and hold as many seats as possible without having to worry about the Corbyn thing. Although this probably won’t save that many seats and has every chance of backfiring (and in doing so, risking the wrath of Labour members who might otherwise be willing to see that the cult of Corbyn was a bad idea, post-June 8th).
Right, so there’s nothing to be done but run on the “Corbyn sucks, Labour rules” mantra it seems. It still won’t work though.