Right, so now that Jeremy has won by the flipping great margin we all thought he would, what does the first year of his reign look like? I’m going to try and stick to things I’m pretty sure will happen as opposed to engaging in wild speculation (as tempting as that may be).
Like I’ve said before, Corbyn will have a honeymoon period. His straight talker routine will get extra mileage after he becomes leader of the opposition and people outside of Westminster pay attention to what he’s saying for the first time. His more populist stuff, like re-nationalising the railways, will get some positive airtime. Cameron will struggle at first with PMQs because the shtick that worked so well with Miliband will bounce right off of Corbyn.
Cameron: the last Labour government was a disaster!
Corbyn: I couldn’t agree more!
Cameron and the rest of the Tories will try to paint Corbyn as a rabid socialist, which will be met with Corbyn saying that, yes, he is in fact a rabid socialist, thank you very much. There may even be a slight panic in Conservative ranks that Corbyn really is moving the debate in the country to the left. Labour will get a slight poll boost, leading Owen Jones to declare the coming socialist utopia as having arrived at its early stages.
But this period won’t last very long. More crazy things Jeremy has said in the past will come to light, none of them particularly interesting on their own, but collectively they will trouble the nation. His straight talking idiom will get him into real trouble – it always does, which is the actual reason most politicians sound like robots.
But the big moment of truth will be next May. It’s now not only looking possible but very likely that all these four things will happen on the very same day: Labour fail to win back the London mayoralty, they lose control of the Welsh Assembly, lose a large number of English seats in the local elections, and get utterly crushed in the Scottish parliament elections. May 5, 2016 will be the day any pretence that Jeremy Corbyn could be prime minister will die for good amongst anyone but the hardcore Corbynistas.
But I think he’ll remain leader after that bloodbath anyway. There will be talks in the media of a coup, and who would be leader if that were to happen. But it will come to nothing – in terms of forcibly removing leaders, the Labour Party may well be the worst organisation in the history of the human race. The only way Jeremy stops being leader after May of next year is if he steps down of his own accord.
I don’t think he will. He will probably hunker down harder in fact, the retributions doled out by Watson for any whiff of insubordination going up in both number and harshness. Labour could well drift on like this to the next election, the polls remaining bad but not dire, until May 2020. Then comes the general election.
One thing that hasn’t been commented on enough is the new boundaries. At the next election, there will be 600 constituencies as opposed to the 650 we have now. So 50 less MPs. When the Tories announced they wanted to do this at the start of the last government in 2010, they billed this as being powered by a “cutting down the cost of politics” measure. But in actuality, the cut in the number of MPs does something you’d expect when you think about it at all: it makes a whole bunch of constituencies more Tory friendly. Each one gets bigger, you see, and so that means a lot of them take in more rural areas than they would under the 650 model we have now.
So the combination of Corbyn and the new boundaries could result in a Conservative majority of epic proportions. I was tempted to predict just how large that majority might be, but I’ll refrain – I’ve probably depressed a lot of people enough already for one day.