Jeremy Corbyn and the leadership result: Labour’s Thatcher moment won’t win over the country
Say what you like about Jeremy Corbyn, but at least you know where he stands. His principled, straight-talking platform has the potential to transform the Labour Party.
In fact, Corbyn could change Labour as radically and fundamentally as Margaret Thatcher changed the Conservatives.
Indeed, while he would not thank me for saying this, what Corbyn is doing to Labour is not at all dissimilar to what happened to the Tories in the 1970s.
When Thatcher entered the Conservative leadership race in 1975, she was the radical who no-one thought could win.
But after a failed leader, Ted Heath, was ejected, Thatcher suddenly proved quite popular and, against all the odds and almost all expectations, she took control of a party that was dominated by an “old boys network”, distantly removed from the priorities and concerns of the Tory grassroots membership.
The parallels today are obvious.
Unlike Corbyn, the other contenders in the Labour leadership race are all paid-up members of the party’s ruling clique, consisting of Blairite and Brownite former special advisers.
Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper have spent their entire professional lives servicing and perpetuating the New Labour ruling class.
It is no wonder they are now struggling to roll up their sleeves, find a clear platform, and halt this crypto-Marxist from becoming their leader on Saturday.
They’ve brought out all the big guns – Tony Blair has warned of “annihilation” and even Gordon Brown broke cover to warn Labour members of the dangers of Corbyn.
The trouble is that these guns were pointed squarely in the wrong direction; it’s typical of how disconnected from the rank and file Labour bigwigs have become that they didn’t realise that wheeling out the terrible twins of New Labour to warn members not to vote for Corbyn was the best way to convince them to do so.
We have also witnessed the so-called Labour Purge – where lifelong socialists are seemingly being denied a vote in the leadership election on the basis that someone at Labour HQ believes they may cast their vote the wrong way. You couldn’t make it up.
The fact is that Corbyn is breathing fresh air into a party that has become stale with professional politicians who believe in nothing, will say anything for a vote, and who have mostly never done a proper day’s work in their lives.
Their ambitions stretch as far as maintaining the old boy network within New Labour.
Burnham is a classic example, having worked as a researcher for Tessa Jowell before becoming a special adviser to Chris Smith and eventually being elected as an MP.
According to Sky, a senior Labour source has called him “weaker and more desperate than even I thought he was”, and he’s demonstrated this perfectly by conveniently discovering he supports railway nationalisation just at the time Corbyn was soaring ahead in the polls.
Cooper and Kendall both have similarly predictable back stories. Cooper has worked as an adviser to John Smith and Harriet Harman. Kendall, meanwhile, previously advised Harman and Patricia Hewitt.
In contrast, there’s something fundamentally honest and consistent about Corbyn and, frankly, we could do with a few more politicians like that in the House.
Thatcher changed the Conservative Party by sweeping away an out-of-touch leadership that considered the party their birthright and bringing in new blood with exciting ideas and an ear for public opinion. Corbyn is looking set to sweep away the “spadocracy”.
But before Corbynites start to read this article as a ringing endorsement, it is increasingly clear that, unlike Thatcher, the British people overwhelmingly reject Corbyn’s economic and social platform.
A ComRes poll last month not only found that the public thinks him to be the candidate most likely to damage Labour’s chances of winning the next election, but only 14 per cent thought he would make the state of the economy better rather than worse as Prime Minister.
The difference is that what Thatcher believed in – which Lord Harris called “common ground between Conservatives and Liberals in the nineteenth century” – has been proven to work.
Corbyn merely wishes to repeat the failed policies of the past.
Thatcher – with the backing of the grassroots – changed the Conservative Party and the country forever.
Corbyn – propelled by the grassroots – will change the Labour Party, but the country rejected his breed before and they will do so again.