Skip to main content

Jez and Trump have more in common than you can ever imagine

So it’s all over, bar the enthusiastic shouting of Corbyn supporters towards the end of September.

We can wait for the fat lady to sing, but let’s not kid ourselves that her tune is going to sound anything other than the death of the Labour Party.

The latest YouGov polling gives Corbyn a massive lead over his challenger Owen Smith. And YouGov has a pretty good track record in internal party elections. The figures may be arguable, but I fear the result isn’t.

When you read the small print of the survey, there are some truly astonishing things to take on board. Smith, for instance, is ahead by a large margin among long-standing members. But Corbyn is the choice of the people who’ve flooded in since September 2015, specifically to support him.

This is political contest as game show.

The red team tries to sign up more people than the pink team. And the pink team tries to confuse existing red team members by pretending that pink is really red. As a result, some contestants may run over to the wrong side of the political assault course. 

Both the teams have a joker to play. Unfortunately, in each case, it happens to be their respective candidate.

Of course, it’s relatively easy for Corbynistas to round up the flotsam and jetsam of the British left with a rallying cry of ‘vote for Jez’. Rather less easy for sensible types to persuade their friends to sign up for Smith. After all, who wants to buy a ticket to board the Titanic when the iceberg has been sighted and you’ve already done some back-of-an-envelope calculations on the life-boat situation?

There’s another snippet from the YouGov poll worth reflecting on. A substantial minority of people voting for Corbyn admit that he is not competent.


Hold your horses just a second. Let’s spell that out in S L O W motion.

Around 40% of the people who say they’re voting for Jezza know him to be incompetent, but are voting for him anyway.

This is beyond crazy.

Support for the man is tribal, irrational and doing irreparable damage, not only to the Labour Party but also to the overall health of British democracy. And, no, I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. Let’s face it.  If there is no effective opposition in a two-party system, you are left with a one-party system.

The more the madness continues, the more parallels I see with the Trump phenomenon in the United States.  Many supporters of the US presidential hopeful – when confronted by their candidate’s gaffes, extremist opinions and lack of grasp of reality – simply shrug their shoulders. They’re going to vote for the guy anyway.


Because he’s Trump.

And for Trump, read Jez. While as personalities and politicians, they may well be poles apart, their supporters adhere to the same essential principles:

Don’t trust the media. They’re out to get us.

Don’t worry that the political establishment is against us. They would be.

Don’t worry that we have no coherent programme. We know what we’re against and that’s all that matters.

Don’t let them attack our man. He is a visionary and we are going to vote for him anyway.

Jez and Trump are insurgents who prosper from the alienation and anomie created by globalisation. Bizarrely, they have much more in common than you could ever imagine, including an irrational loyalist fan base, very thick skins and a complete lack of concern for what people think of them. Not to mention a love of merchandise.

But Jez is the poor relation.

He is dime-store Trump without the charisma, without the money, without the popular support.  

Where are we headed? It’s difficult at the moment to tell. British and American politics are fracturing left and right in unpredictable and dangerous ways.

Ed Balls and Liz Kendall – representatives of the Brownite and Blairite wings of New Labour respectively – have both said that moderates must stay and fight after a second Corbyn victory. But their voices will be swamped, Jez’s position entrenched and then reprisals will quickly ensue.

The only answer will be creation of a new, credible centre-left party. More on that soon.


Popular posts from this blog

I was sad when I quit Labour a year ago. Now, I feel a sense of relief.

What motivates decent people to stay as members of the Labour Party?
It’s a question I’ve been pondering intensely over the past year, which I’ve spent in self-imposed exile. I resigned the moment Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as leader after the contest with Owen Smith.
When I quit, it was with a very heavy heart.
As far back as the late 1980s, I’d served as Labour General Secretary of the London NUS. By the early 90s, I was chairing Frank Dobson’s constituency party in inner London. On two occasions, I stood as a Labour parliamentary candidate.
If you make that kind of commitment, you assume it’s a relationship that will last for life. And even though I hadn’t been an activist in recent years, it never occurred to me that I’d be forced to rip up my party card. 
Today, as Labour’s 2017 conference looms, I wonder how anyone with a moderate viewpoint can kid themselves the party is even worth rescuing.
One group of centre-ground survivors falls into the category of the bloody minded. Like …

What if the whole Corbyn project is based on a lie?

If there’s one thing that scares the Corbyn movement more than anything else, it’s the emergence of a new centre-ground party.
Supporters know very well that once it arrives, the alleged ‘popularity’ of Labour’s far-left leadership would be badly exposed – in just the same way that Michael Foot’s good poll ratings disintegrated with the emergence of the SDP in the early 1980s.
When people are given a choice, many will opt for moderation.
When they lack choice – a particularly stark problem in the UK’s indefensible first-past-the-post electoral system – they tend to polarise to left and right.
For supporters of today’s Labour leadership, it’s therefore critically important to dismiss the centre ground as something which no one wants any more. As a failed ‘neo-liberal’ project, which has no relevance to 2018.
But consider the facts.
A recent BMG Research poll for The Independent found that millions of voters currently find themselves without a political home.
Many feel that the main parties …

Why Momentum's victory in Haringey leaves Corbyn exposed

If you want to see what a Corbyn government might look like, keep an eye on Haringey. The north London borough is set to be taken over by the hard-left Momentum faction, after moderate Labour councillors were deselected in a bitter dispute over housing.
The respected and long-standing council leader, Claire Kober, has said that she won’t be contesting her seat again in May – probably forfeiting her own place on the council to another representative of the Corbyn fan club. She’s also effectively pulled the plug on her £2bn housing initiative – known as the Haringey Development Vehicle or HDV – by saying that the incoming administration can make the final decision on whether it proceeds.
Part of the pressure on Kober came from the extraordinary decision of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee to weigh in on the issue. Thankfully, their intervention provoked a backlash from outraged councillors right around the country. Whatever they thought of the specific model for housing pr…