Corbyn's re-election means it is now a permanent party of Oppositionby John McTernan / September 24, 2016 / Leave a comment
Is this the end of the Labour Party? It’s hard to say, but it is definitely well beyond the beginning of the end. Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election as leader, his victory over challenger Owen Smith, has committed Labour to being a permanent party of opposition.
Corbynistas readily say that Labour’s poor opinion polls are all because of the leadership election and nothing to do with the leader. Or they are because of a Tory honeymoon—a new Prime Minister makes the country feel as though there has been a General Election. The one figure Corbyn’s supporters never want to talk about are his personal approval ratings, which currently lag 71 points behind Theresa May’s. They have no answer for this because this is the one measure that Corbyn is responsible for. A brave few whisper “MSM!” (that is, they lay the blame with the “mainstream media”) and briskly try to change the subject, but they all know that the public has the measure of Corbyn. Voters have seen enough of him and have decided what they think—in Attlee’s immortal phrase, when sacking John Parker, “not up to the job.”
The reasons for Corbyn’s unpopularity with the public are clear. They didn’t trust Ed Miliband and Ed Balls on the economy and they trust Corbyn and John McDonnell even less. To the traditional fear that the public have of “tax and spend” lefties, McDonnell has added the “Magic Money Tree”—his plan to print money, which rightly terrifies voters. To Ed Miliband’s weaknesses Corbyn has added the issue of defence and national security by opposing the renewal of Trident, the independent nuclear deterrent, and being highly sceptical of either the value of NATO or the aggressive intentions of Vladimir Putin. These views of Corbyn’s aren’t secret—they are front and centre. Like many on the ultra-left, foreign policy is the area about which he feels most comfortable. There has not been a serious statement by Corbyn in the last year about the National Health Service—which is in crisis—or pensions, where a barely adequate system has been trashed by George Osborne.