This has just popped into my inbox.
It’s official stuff from Labour, barely hours after Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide election; pretty complex and strategic long-burn stuff too.
I wonder how many people within the Party have been spending precious resource in the full knowledge that Corbyn was going to win. I also wonder how it’s been enabled, exactly. How it’s been coordinated. How they knew before anyone knew.
Stuff I’m not privy to, of course. Stuff I have no data about.
Anyhow. Dan Hodges – well-known loyal Labourite that he is – reacts thus:
And then proceeds to tweet this:
It seems to me he has a point in both tweets, but at the same time completely – surprisingly – misses the point as well.
The point being? Corbyn beat the Blairites hands-down on precisely the ground they had once made their own:
You never beat a governing party before you beat your own. That’s the way of politics. Alastair Campbell, more than anybody surely, should be fully aware of this fact.
That in the midst of their sense of foggy impotence, perhaps rightly felt too (only time will tell), Hodges, Campbell, Rob Marchant & Co should – in a sense – be blaming the voters for treading where only political fools have ever gone is the most surprising thing about this astonishing election process.
For Corbyn didn’t win because the voters allowed themselves to be duped. Corbyn and his team won – will continue to win, if they continue to do so – by the same process and journey Blair et al went through as they won all the times that Campbell properly reminds us of:
- within their Party, gaining the foothold on power;
- still to be seen of course, negotiating high internal expectations with growing and complicated realities;
- one day going to the country, and battling the ranged forces of media hostility, own goals to be committed (as we all end up doing), and the long ragged wearinesses of any general election;
- showing themselves actually capable of delivering what they eventually choose to widely promise.
Whilst the Blairites (if it is at all fair to reduce them to what now feels such a disrespectful and limiting noun) are hating the size of the victory, and find grace in defeat so challenging, at least today, at least for now, they may nevertheless have a longer-term point in their autumnal discontent. But whilst they continue not to recognise that Corbyn has beaten them on the patch they never expected to lose over – audience understanding and connection, the machine of their politics, technical efficiency and a sheer overall competence – they will never be in a position to be able to accurately predict whether Corbyn’s Labour will win or not.
And in their lack of humility and objectivity one might also wonder if they would now prefer that such a Labour lost the next general election than won, hands-down, the eternal duel fought across the writhing bodies of us haplessly confused voters.
Not because Corbyn’s policies were better either – rather, simply because his political nous, the machinery I mention above, was ultimately able to out-New Labour everything the Blairites had once laboured for so brilliantly.
Isn’t it, then, possible and fair to suggest, Dan & Fam, that Corbyn won not because the voters were dumb, empty-headed or simplistic but, far more likely, because – in quite neutral terms – his campaign was by far the most politically effective and intelligent since the Blairites themselves showed us how it should be done?
And to be honest, if that’s the case, whilst crowdsourcing the very short and silly game that is Prime Minister’s Questions to half a million of your voters is hardly a sincere and truthfully useful game-changer (how on earth will anyone expect for their point of view ever to get through to Parliament itself?), as a way of a) ingratiating yourself with your recent voters (the very day he’s voted in, Corbyn’s already connecting directly) at the same time as b) putting the PM on the back foot (any stupid jokes Cameron makes as his wont will now generate headlines about his lack of respect for painful questions asked on behalf of pain-ridden people), it all goes to clearly demonstrate that Corbyn’s Labour will be anything but naive lead-weighted monolithic leftishnesses.
What Dan & Fam really fear, I think, though I don’t know if they’ve realised it consciously yet, is that Corbyn’s team have read Machiavelli (or is that Mandelson?) from cover to cover – to cover to cover to cover.
In this sense, Dan doesn’t really fear that Labour will lose against Cameron.
Dan really fears Labour’s on the road to beating him.