The supposed all-conquering vote winners of the centre are failing to put forward a compelling caseby Josh Lowe / July 29, 2015 / Leave a comment
Jeremy Corbyn is being mobbed. As he emerges from a speech at London’s Bloomsbury Baptist Church he’s rushed by a crowd of supporters, contorting themselves into improbable positions to get a clear shot for their selfies. Grinning young women in headscarves collide with grizzled older men in pastel tones. “Get that copy of the Socialist [Worker] out!” yells a concerned supporter, with one eye on the publication held aloft near Corbyn’s head, and another on the TV camera dancing from side to side in search of a sight line on Labour’s leadership frontrunner.
It’s tangible, if anecdotal, evidence of what the papers and the airwaves are telling us: the Corbyn surge is real. Yesterday afternoon, shortly before Corbyn spoke in Bloomsbury, a leaked poll put him 19 points ahead of Yvette Cooper, the potential runner-up, in Labour’s leadership contest. It followed a public YouGov poll which had him just in front of Andy Burnham. The New Statesman‘s Stephen Bush hit the phones over the weekend and found that the conversations he had backed up the data. There’s plenty still to play for until September but, at the moment, and to the befuddlement of the political mainstream, Labour really could be on course to elect a man who bears more than a passing resemblance to 70s sitcom character Citizen Smith.
But why? If the event last night—organised by fellow left-winger Diane Abbott’s mayoral campaign—is any guide, it really isn’t rocket science. He’s just following his election ABCs far better than the supposed all-conquering vote winners of the centre.
First, far more than any other leadership contender, if you put a cross next to Corbyn you know what you’re getting. His speech last night was clear, strident, and delivered with a mix of emotion and humility beneath the church’s imposing crucifix. The NHS? Check. Don’t privatise it, we’re all dependent on it. The welfare state? Check. By and large, keep it intact, despite the “daily diet in some of our media” that “the whole problem is caused by some people wrongly claiming their benefits.” Iraq? A “disaster.” Trident? Scrap it and get our engineers working on green energy. Britain’s future? “A force for promotion of…