The Nuneaton hustings last night was a predictable disaster. Andy Burnham, the acknowledged front runner in the Labour leadership contest, told the assembled that “the party always comes first”. Liz Kendall was straight in with: “The country comes first”. If Burnham wins, Cameron has a stick to beat him with for the entirety of his leadership.
Sorry, enough about Andy – what about dear Jeremy? Burnham wanted him on the ticket as he wished to have someone to his his left who couldn’t win. But what if the old Trot somehow managed to pull it off? Anyone who pays three quid can become an “affiliate member” and vote in the leadership election. Could a bunch of Tories flood in and get Corbyn elected as a means of destroying the Labour Party?
It’s unlikely. But also, I have to wonder if I’m being too sniffy towards Jeremy. Would he really be all that bad as Labour leader?
September 12, 2015. Jeremy Corbyn narrowly beats Andy Burnham to become Miliband’s successor. The political commentariat flips out. Labour are predicted to lose as many as 100 seats in the 2020 election, not just by the Telegraph and the Mail, but the Guardian as well. The end of the Labour Party is predicted far and wide.
But then Corbyn does some press and television interviews. He comes across as empassioned and genuine – someone who speaks the long sought after (in Westminster anyhow) language of “human”.
Labour’s poll ratings go up. The ranks of the Green Party are decimated, and the left of the Lib Dems too, as they all flock to be part of the Corbyn revolution. Russell Brand re-emerges to say how great it is that there’s finally a mainstream politician he can be unequivocally in favour of. Owen Jones will be smug, talking endlessly about how no one thought a truly socialist Labour leader could become prime minister, and yet here’s a guy speaking on an unashamedly left wing banner, riding high in the polls.
Then, slowly but surely, it will all start to go pear shaped. A year out from the general election, Labour’s poll ratings nosedive. The old New Labour praetorian guard are on TV every five seconds, talking about how Corbyn is leading the party to ruin. Jeremy responds by going even further to the left, promising to nationalise all kebab shops.
Leadership coups are rumoured; a few times it feels like it might actually happen, but as always with Labour, not enough of the front bench have the guts to stick in the knife. Jeremy will do all right, they say to themselves. Remember Corbyn-mania? How bad could it be?
Election Day, 2020. The Tories emerge with 430 seats. Labour lose 118. And after all that, the party still can’t agree on why the election was lost or even how bad the scale of the loss actually was (very clear to all those outside of it). Jeremy was knifed in the back by the Blairites, that’s why he lost. Let’s go even further to the left this time. 118 seats is a minor setback – a flesh wound. We’re all right, we’re all right.
It’s a good thing none of this will actually happen, isn’t it?