Last summer, in the heat of Owen Smith’s challenge to Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership of the UK Labour Party, this particular Marmoset pissed off a lot of people, blogging about the Bottom Ten Lazy Political Generalisations propagated by the moon-eyed/swivel-eyed (delete where not applicable) acolytes of Mr Jez-We-Can, who wander the echoing labyrinth of Social Media, their faces periodically melting like Indiana Jones Nazis whenever said Echo dares to mutter: ‘Actually, perhaps he can’t’.
Oh, by the way, if you’re hoping for a measured commentary on the lefty social media chaterati response to General Election 2017, then you’ve come to the wrong place. I warn you now, there will be swearing.
The more emollient voices chided me: ‘But surely, Jeremy’s tenure as leader is precipitating a debate we should have had years ago.’ Ehm, hello?? I think we did actually have this debate, certainly in the 1980s and quite possibly a good few decades before that as well. The answer was as clear then – as it is horribly clear now. Remember this guy?
Well he was wrong about that as well. History repeats itself first as tragedy and then as an even worse fucking tragedy – except this time the Marmoset is 57 years old and doesn’t know if he’ll live to see the left of British politics recover.
But… I hold my hands up. I was wrong. Just like Karl.
I’ve said it.
The Marmoset was 100% wrong.
I repeatedly intimated in my August 2016 blog that certain political tropes on social media were intellectually lazy. What a load of utter bollox. No! Here we are, two years after the train wreck of the 2015 General Election; two awful Labour Leadership elections; not to mention the EU Referendum, and the same people are churning out the same clichéd, simplistic, reductive, un-evidenced nonsense they spouted throughout all those sickeningly ill-fated campaigns.
This amount of wilful self delusion isn’t lazy – it’s bloody hard work.
Recently, for the sake of my blood pressure (and everybody else’s patience), I disconnected myself from FB because, far from learning a single thing from recent debacles, the quality of popular dialogue on the left of Social Media appears to be sinking to new lows. But if Tweeters and FBers insist on inventing new tiresome political clichés/excuses/expressions of moral and political outrage, then I reserve the right to fashion another ‘Bottom Ten’.
I won’t bother with the whole Alan Freeman ‘pop-pickers’ thing.
Well… ok, just to get us going: ‘Coming in at number ten!’
10) ‘The real reason Theresa May called this election is…’
I’ve seen a few bizarre reasons touted, but the main one is that it supposedly puts to bed accusations of Tory electoral fraud at the 2015 General Election – a story championed by Michael Crick at C4 News. Ehmmm… How does that work exactly? Any electoral fraud charges won’t just go away because an election is called. Even if every suspected MP stands down at this election – and I don’t believe that they are, certainly not at the time of writing – then issue remains very much live and will re-emerge if the CPS decided to press charges. (NB. Since writing this blog, events have moved on and the CPS have decided not to press charges in all but one constituency, South Thanet, where a decision remains to be made – but my point very much still stands.)
I’ve also seen posts suggesting that Theresa May’s real reason for going to the country is something vaguely to do with Philip May making loads of cash (no, I don’t understand that either) – or, that other golden oldie, to cover up accusations of a paedophile ring at the heart of the establishment. Wha…? Regular visitors to the Marmoset may remember what this dubious little monkey had to say about conspiracy theories.
This election is about her control of Brexit and maximising the Tory majority at a time when the opposition is at its weakest thanks to the poor and unpopular stewardship of Jeremy Corbyn. No more, no less.
9) ‘You can’t trust the Polls! Look what happened in 2015, Brexit, Trump etc….’
Polling gets a lot of stuff wrong, because while it’s a science from which we demand exactitude, the parameters are constantly shifting, and it’s a challenge for the methodology to keep up. But statisticians are generally smart cookies and able to learn from their mistakes, so before we start bleating about how we can ignore the polls, it’s worth a click or two (if you can be arsed before proclaiming) to check the facts. Let’s look at the oft cited straws at which poll-deniers are wont to grasp:
The 2015 General Election: There were 92 polls during the campaign, 17 of which were dead heats. In 42 of the remainder Labour had a small lead, and in the other 33 the Conservatives led, sometimes by as much as 6%. The Tories won with a 7% lead. So the clues were there for anyone who wanted to find them, and the inaccuracy, such as it was, concealed a far greater advantage for the Conservative Party. Something very similar happened in 1992 when, despite only garnering a small parliamentary majority, John Major defied Labour-favouring polls by scoring the highest popular vote of any Prime Minister in UK electoral history.
The EU Referendum: These polls were a bit more accurate as a whole, with quite a few anticipating the result closely… and where they were wrong, favouring the Remain side – yes, you guessed it – they hid an actual bias towards the less liberally inclined Leave voter.
The 2016 US Election: The polls were derided for not predicting Trump’s historic (!) victory, but Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes, so they were hardly out of the ball park.
And what do all these have in common? The polling critically over estimates the level of Labour/Left support. There are some voices suggesting that polling companies are trying to factor in this left leaning bias from previous surveys, and have overcooked their compensatory mechanisms. The local elections with an 11% Tory lead as opposed to the 18% predicted in national polls might give this weight, but then again, voting patterns in local contests are different from those in general elections, so frankly, who knows. What we do know is that a polling error that would wipe out a consistent 18% lead has no historical precedent.
‘Ah yes!’ Exclaim the Moon-Swivellers, ‘but Jeremy defied 200/1 odds to become Labour Leader in the first place!!!’ Hmmm… that’ll be with a self nominating electorate, many of whom paid three quid for the privilege. It doesn’t count. It really, really doesn’t count.
8) ‘The Main Stream Media is biased against Him!!! ‘
(That’ll be ‘Him’ with a capital ‘H’ – I mean, He deserves one, surely)
Oh god, I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO bored of this one… and anyone who’s dabbled with the Marmoset will know I’ve jabbered on about it at some length before.
But sadly – tediously! – it seems that the point can’t be made too often. Aside from whether there’s anything like the bias that the Facebook-erati claim (there is and there isn’t, that’s for another day) – or whether bias either way is ’cause’ or ‘effect’ – the tiresome bit is the endless tinnitus whine of the complaint itself.
If you, Dear Reader, are inclined to media-blaming, convinced that potential Labour voters are swayed from their true course by the establishment, Oxbridge cabal at the BBC; or the mere existence of Murdoch sponsored front pages in newsagents; or Krishnan Guru-Murthy with his devastating page one questions for Jeremy Corbyn on Channel 4 News; or The Daily Mail which, for some reason, these potential Labour voters are already reading (yeah… go figure that one…); or… or…. or…. (cough, splutter, aneurysm) …LAURA KUENSSBERG (‘Burn the witch!! Burn the witch!!!!!)…
…if you are one of these people whinging and moaning and mewling and puking about media bias, what you are actually saying is: ‘I’m really smart!! I’m intellectual, me. I know THE TRUTH. But out there are lots of STUPID people who will sway with the wind like moronic sheep – unlike ME, far cleverer than the dimwit lumpen masses who are incapable of independent thought, but, annoyingly, on whom Labour victory depends!!
Sorry… was I ranting. Breathe.
A common trope on FB and Twitter is to berate the BBC for giving too much air time to Nigel Farage and UKIP. Let’s ignore the four million license fee payers who voted UKIP at the last election and concede that perhaps there is some weight to this criticism. What just happened at the recent May local elections? Wipeout for UKIP. And it looks very much as if June will see them swept from the arena once and for all, despite all that media coverage.
Why? Because people aren’t stupid. They are capable of independent thought, and the former UKIP voter has made the quite rational judgement that their time is gone, and that Paul Nuttall is even more ridiculous than Nigel Farage.
It’s a shame really, because right now anyone seriously wanting Labour victory could do with an electorate divided along UKIP lines… perhaps if you still have media-blaming proclivities you could write to the BBC and ask for a bit more UKIP propaganda to help shore up some Labour marginals!
Oh yeah, and while we’re at it… The Main Stream Media? What are you actually talking about? Newspapers with their ever declining circulations? Or would that be Social Media, Facebook, Twitter – used by billions of people – where people talk bollocks to their mates who already agree with them or read lengthy blogs written by self-opinionated gits tapping away in their attics…
Oh… hang on…
7) ‘If only people would get out and vote, we could swing this election!!’
When His Corbyness first caressed the wipe-clean leatherette arm-rests of his Labour throne, he countered those who dared suggest that he needed to woo the centre ground – or that polling indicated a somewhat oceanic lack of popular support – by boldly asserting there was an army of non-voters – The Disenfranchised, The Young Pee-Pul – who he would galavanise into registering, and who would propel him into 10 Downing Street at the head of a revolutionary tsunami.
Two years later, the tsunami is looking a tad like the wash from a drifting pedalo, and while no one, not even the Marmoset at his most curmudgeonly, would refute the importance of getting people to exercise their hard-won democratic rights…
…swinging from this particular twig, licking on my favourite rainforest exudate (look it up), I notice the bark is starting to splinter, and I offer this word of warning to anyone blaming Labour’s woes on low turnout – and seeking salvation by rousing the apathetic masses into the polling booth.
The inconvenient truth is that there’s no particular evidence to suppose that those who don’t vote are necessarily Labour supporters. Indeed, post war history implies the opposite. The turnout for the EU referendum – 72% – was unusually high compared to recent General Elections – between 7% and 12% higher than the last four elections. 2001 (59%) and 2005 (61%) had low turnouts – both Labour victories… 2010 (65%) and 2015 (66%), the turnout went up, and it favoured the conservatives. 1992 when John Major was helped by a near record turnout of 77%.
When Blair defeated Major five years later it was on a turnout down by 6%. Other record turnouts include 1950 when Clement Attlee’s legendary, landmark government was ousted by Winston Churchill on an 84% turnout. Attlee’s victory was on a turnout twelve points lower. And my understanding from everything I’ve read about it, is that the higher turnout at the EU referendum favoured Vote Leave. So when we shout to the Social Media heavens for a greater turnout on June 8th, the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ comes to mind.
But given that people who don’t vote, er… don’t vote, then of course, this is, by definition, unknowable. If we accept that as true, I tentatively suggest that making the disenfranchised a core part of one’s campaign might be just a little fruitless. Even assuming we want to improve things for the disenfranchised (I know I do!) it’s still a better use of energy and resources to target one’s efforts at the people who actually go to polling booths, and who might be persuaded to chisel their cross in your particular box. Duh.
What we do with power when we get it is one thing – but an election is about winning votes. To flip Mario Cuomo on his head, if Labour want to win, we need to campaign in prose in order to have the slightest hope of governing in poetry.
So let’s sum up a bit. The cumulative effect of turnout blaming and media blaming is that Labour’s path to victory is now reliant on a lumpen mass of weak-minded, easily brainwashed Murdoch/Mail reading dimwits incapable of independent thought who are additionally incapable of getting themselves to a polling booth.
Patronising and insulting to the electorate?
But until we change our attitude about this and concentrate on the non-tribal voting demographic whose allegiances we need to win, then victory will continue to elude us.
6) (Wrings hands) ‘But it’s all bloody personality politics – it should be about the policies!’
Oh FFS. Of course it’s about personality! And character. Representative party democracy or not – a general election is about electing a Prime Minister. It’s a job interview, and the public will make their own choice about who they think is up to the task. They will use their gut and their life experience to decide this.
They will put competency very high on their list, and vote for someone they may not even like that much if they think they’ll get the job done. Of course policy is important – double duh! – but they’re trusting their lives, their children’s lives, their money, their jobs, their future to the stewardship of the nation’s ultimate line manager. And when was the last time you thought ‘the personal qualities of my line manager is of no consequence to me whatsoever’?
Who do you want driving the car, your lovely but dozy uncle who’s always scraping the verge, turning round to tell you stories of victories past, or your charmless tight-fisted aunt whose eyes never leave the road? You wouldn’t invite her to a party, but you want her wheel. Getting there alive is better than never getting there at all. In the case of May versus Corbyn, Theresa looks like she knows what she’s doing. Jeremy doesn’t.
Uh-uh! Don’t go off on one. I’m not saying that Theresa does know what she’s doing, but I am saying that if you sit, empathetically, in the swing-voter’s back seat then it is easy to see why she would be perceived that way. Which brings me neatly to….
5) ‘But Theresa May… she’s a bloody robot!’
Oh yes, in electioneering terms, absolutely. This GE is being sung from the Lynton Crosby playbook turned up to eleven – and it’s certainly an eyeball peeling, eardrum shattering sensory assault. This may be hard for some guests of the Marmoset to stomach but David Cameron used to croon the Crosby tunes with a good deal of charm.
No, not him…
Sorry, you’re going to have to stick with the idea of David Cameron having charm. Remember, winning this election (if that were possible) is about persuading people who found Cameron to be charming – or Nigel Farage to be credible – that they’d rather vote for Jeremy Corbyn this time round. Try to stay focused on that idea.
Now excuse me while I jump back a metaphor. Think of the Lynton Crosby election-winning mechanism as a relentless, piston-thumping engine… In Cameron’s charming kid-driving-glove mitts, it is encased in a shiny chassis, shimmering in the sun as it flashes through a grove of poplars, shock absorbers and silencers rendering its pumping cylinders quiet as a whisper.
Sadly this time round, the charmless aunt has been handed the brutalist stripped down model. Lynton only has a few weeks, so there’s no chassis, no shock absorbers, no silencers… this is a V8 Crosby machine in the grinding raw.
Yup. We can see all the working parts. But the point is – the parts are working – the engine driving the May Robot is just as powerful, no matter how much we can smell the oil steaming off the cylinder block.
May’s team know what the selling point is – they’ve done the focus groups… (oooh… did I hear you sneer just then? Behave.) …and consequently they know what their target demographic thinks. Recent polling shows that concern about the outcome of Brexit exceeds concern for the future of the NHS in some surveys. It’s startling, but not surprising. It’s completely rational to be absolutely bloody terrified. I am! If Brexit goes tits up then everything else is fucked. Not only that, but huge swathes of the population – left, right, leave, remain – quite rationally understand that many in the EU are determined to prove that there can be no happy ending for anyone else with ideas about making a run for it.
So there’s one message: May’s a ‘bloody difficult woman’ who’ll fight the UK corner. Strong and stable and all that – and mock though we relentlessly do – May held down the scalp-strewn post of Home Secretary for six years, one of the longest tenures in recent history.
But she just keeps on saying it… because she and Lynton understand that if you’re a non-tribal voter and you care about the economy, you’ll vote for the person who you think can handle Brexit; if you care about immigration, you’ll vote for the person you think can handle Brexit; and if you care about the NHS you’ll vote for the person who you think can handle Brexit.
Suddenly, because of Brexit, the Tories have the upper hand on healthcare. Yeah, I know, it turns the stomach and it’s sacrilege to write such words on a left-of-centre website, it’s barely possible to accept, but accept it we must, for it is true.
No… I can feel you REFUSING to believe me. Look at that poll again – go on, do it!! – and rest assured it won’t be the last to send the same message.
But, you cry, Andrew Marr asked her a dozen questions and she didn’t answer a single one – it was just ‘strong and stable’, ‘strong and stable’ all the way. Duh again! Her refusal to engage with anything else just goes to prove the point. She’s so strong and stable she won’t be drawn on anything and just sticks to her core message. It’s a win-win, almost post-modern, strategy.
Now for a personal window into the domestic life of this Ninja monkey. Mrs Marmoset is worried about me because I keep saying admiring things about Theresa May, but my admiration is the same as one might have for the Alien. Being able to bleed acid blood through five decks of the Nostromo is pretty damned impressive….
…and you need more than guns if you’re going to bring one of those mothers down.
Which segues nicely into…
4) ‘Well I’m voting for Jeremy because he is the only politician who has integrity, is truly genuine, is a proper socialist, represents true Labour values etc etc etc etc etc etc….’
If you must, but is that seriously the best reason you have?
Ah, I hear you say, with a smug flare of the nostrils, a keen narrowing of the eyes, a minute ago you said that personality was important. Yeah, smartarse, I did. But values on their own, ideals on their own, integrity (aka a bull-headed adherence to one point of view for the whole of your life) and a Santa list of sub-polytechnic-politics-subsidiary slogans does not a personality make. As for ‘genuine’ – what the Johnny-Cash does ‘genuine’ mean anyway? People thought Johnny Cash was genuine when he sang about prison life, but Cash never spent more than a night in the slammer for petty misdemeanours.
The very intelligent exlectorate rightly evaluate personality as Life Experience, Work Experience, The Ability To Get Things Done, and crucially for a Prime Minister, Leadership Skills (that’ll be leadership as in not having everyone in sight resign around you). Any idiot can have ideals – most of us have fabulous values and principles – but it takes real character to make them happen. Thirty-three years on the back benches, voting against your own side, and organising protest rallies hardly counts.
This is why people posting admiringly about Corbyn soldiering on after his front bench resigned and the near unanimous vote of no confidence are wrong – and this is why any other party leader would have resigned at that point. You can’t go into an election once your colleagues have told the rest of the country that you’re crap. You can’t go into an election with a front bench team made up of a talentless rump whose only qualification for office isn’t skill or experience, but that they were the only ones who didn’t vote you down. It’s not even a matter of whether the others were right to resign in the first place. It’s just a cold reality that there’s no way back from that. You’re stuffed – like a pig at a Bullingdon initiation party – and it’s a great oinking signal that you need to exit stage left and let someone lead the party who can command the confidence of a strong team.
That’s my idea of integrity.
And personal strength.
And genuinely caring about the values of the Labour Party.
Ploughing on regardless is arrogant, stupid and selfish.
3) ‘If you don’t vote for Jeremy then it’s a vote to close the NHS, kill people on benefits, blah blah blah…’
After the local and mayoral elections on May 4th this sort of post was all over social media like Donald Trump’s hands in a cattery…. (….think about it).
Although this kind of nonsense has already been brilliantly satirised in a painfully true spoof for The Independent – click here – there is more to be said.
The long term consequence of a landslide Tory victory may well be some, if not all, of these terrible things listed in those posts. Of that I have little doubt. However the short term consequence of so characterising any who might disagree with those who like to call themselves the progressive left is not one extra vote for the Labour cause.
Why? Because it’s lazy, reductive, patronising, arrogant, smug and wilfully obstructive to the reality of how elections are won… the last of which I reckon is pretty important if you really want to see a Labour government any time soon.
It starts from a nauseating moral high handedness, the assumption that only a Labour voter truly inhabits the moral high ground. So when wonderfully skilled ex-Coronation Street actors proclaim, sonorous and heartfelt, about Labour being the party that ‘gives a toss’, they have no idea how alienating that is to millions of people. What are they saying? That because someone votes Tory they don’t care about people?
If Labour are ever to win power again we need the votes of millions of folk who have voted Conservative in the past – and you’ve just told them they are moral scum.
This stuff is underpinned by the assumption that any right thinking person will automatically see the notion of Conservatism as toxic. Well, hold the front page. They don’t. They don’t automatically see being conservative as this…
…and even if they do, they don’t necessarily experience a spasm of involuntary revulsion. For millions of people around the country being a conservative voter looks just like this:
If we are to win people over – to persuade, to cajole – then we have to banish this morally superior stereotyping to the self righteous trash can of losing strategies where it belongs.
Jeremy Corbyn has even managed to fuck up that sure-fire winner of a slogan: ‘For The Many Not The Few’. Over in Toryland, Theresa May speaks daily (and don’t we know it?) about negotiating a Brexit that works for everybody. She uses the word advisedly. Everybody.
Now, while you or I may well doubt her sincerity, like it or not, the word ‘everybody’ means just that, and crucially excludes nobody.
Back in Corbynopolis, Our Jezzer has taken a phrase – For The Many, Not The Few – and made it sound hostile and exclusive. In his campaign launch on 9th May, he talked about:
‘…a reckoning for those who thought they could get away with asset stripping our industry, crashing our economy through their greed and ripping off workers and consumers’
It sounds like a declaration of war. It’s an expression of hate. I know many people who would look at me and say: ‘And your problem with that is…?’
While most people want to see a reduction in inequality, they are also aspirational. This kind of oratory is all about ‘us’ and ‘them’ – it reads as aggressive and divisive, and there are plenty of ordinary people wondering whether they might become a bit too ‘them’ to prosper in a Corbyn led society. Of course a Labour government will be founded on redistributive economics, but it needs to be framed in language as inclusive as that used by Theresa May.
Theresa May??? Inclusive????
I can feel the reader balking at everything I write – sputtering in disbelief – but listen, really listen to the difference in the language used. At a recent election appearance in Tynemouth, deep in traditional Labour territory, Theresa May addressed the gathering thus:
‘We respect that parents and grandparents taught their children and grandchildren that Labour was a party that shared their values and stood up for their community. But across the country today, traditional Labour supporters are increasingly looking at what Jeremy Corbyn believes in and are appalled.’
The Tories attack Corbyn personally – hammering away at his personal politics, competence and leadership skills – but you’ll never hear them deriding Labour voters themselves for their values. You’ll never hear them proclaiming that if you’ve voted Labour in the past you’re morally bankrupt and killing disabled people.
Because they want our votes.
The language is carefully constructed to LOVE the Labour voter, while driving a wedge between them and their vulnerable leader. Is it really beyond the wit of the Labour Party and its supporters to something similar and talk respectfully to people who are potential Tory voters but whom they want to persuade? Do we really have to talk like bullies?
And if you still think I’m wrong, scroll up to that opinion poll again. 47% of people think May will create a fairer society than Corbyn’s paltry 37%. Look at it – and learn.
2) ‘Ok, so Corbyn let us down over Brexit – but what else could he have done?’
Well… turning up for the referendum campaign would have been a start. Revisionist Corbynista acolytes blindly refuse to acknowledge any responsibility on their saviour’s behalf but Jeremy’s near sabotage of the Labour Remain campaign is well documented. Remain lost by just over 1.3m votes so all we needed was another 650,000 little pencil crosses and we wouldn’t be in the truly terrifying mess we’re in right now. Whilst the reasons for the Leave victory are many and complex (as grippingly recounted in Tim Shipman’s fantastic book, All Out War) it’s hard to believe that an enthusiastic pro-EU Labour leader, seizing the opportunity and the agenda couldn’t have secured that. For all their own shortcomings, I have absolutely no doubt that either Andy Burnham or Yvette Copper could have got those votes… easily.
What else could Corbyn have done? Well, he could have consulted with his shadow cabinet colleagues on the small matter of Labour Party Policy before coming out at 7.28 am on the morning of 24th June 2016 and calling for Article 50 to be invoked as soon as possible. And people are surprised that most of the shadow cabinet resigned? They are often blamed for their ‘disloyalty’, but hey – pot-calling-the-skillet-le-creuset! – they hardly had a choice in the circumstances.
Oh yeah, and then we get to the bloody ‘will of the people’ and invoking a three line whip for Labour MPs to wave Article 50 through the Commons. Labour policy is something to do with ‘holding the government to account’ but exactly how this is to be achieved now the party has completely rolled over on the issue is quite beyond this tufty little simian.
From up in my tree, savouring my exudates, it is nothing less than the betrayal of a generation.
Corbyn apologists argue that he had no choice. The People Had Decided – ‘The Issue of Brexit Is Settled’ yadda yadda – and crucially Labour is haemorraghing votes in Labour heartlands to UKIP. Well, let’s look under the bonnet of that particular premise.
Offering a convincing counter narrative might have been something worth considering. Just maybe? As the reality of Brexit bears down upon us, the zeitgeist of 2017 is that of a nation – Remain and Leave voters alike – looking down the barrel of a gun.
Corbyn derides May for taking a confrontational stance with Brussels, but with the barrel right in our faces, which strategy is going to play best with a nervous/terrified electorate?
‘Please can we stay in the single market, and we’re happy to fulfil any conditions to achieve that even if we have no power in the union any more, pretty please…’
…whipping out our own weaponry and snarling: ‘Go ahead, Juncker, make my day’. The electorate are feeling that, given the choice, they’d rather die on their feet than live on their knees, which is why Labour-UKIP defectors are now turning to the Conservatives in their extremely crucial hundreds of thousands.
Emily Thornberry – Labour’s patroniser-in-chief – pops up on the telly, almost daily, to tell us that Labour has no choice but to look both ways, as they try to satisfy both urban Labour Remainers and Labour heartland Brexiteers but you can see in her eyes – and the doleful look in Keir Starmer’s sad little peepers – that she knows it’s a confusing, untenable and impotent fudge.
So what was the alternative?
The clue’s in that last word – Labour could only seize the agenda by offering an actual alternative. Corbyn’s strategy is to try not to mention the ‘B’ word at all, but there is no way round the cold hard fact that this is the Brexit election. There is absolutely no way Labour can kick Brexit off the top of the agenda. A savvy Labour leader would have stopped trying to dodge that particular bullet, and rather made a grab for the gun itself.
Yes. It would have been a very high risk strategy, but the opportunity was there for anyone bold enough to take it. If the Tories want a Brexit election then let them have it, but pitch Labour as the party that will withdraw from Article 50 and hold the EU together.
Be bold. Use the election to re-run the referendum.
Labour are barely scraping 30% in the polls. Why not make a pitch for the 48% who were desperate to Remain in the EU… and rather than accusing Tory or Leave voters of being knuckle-dragging moral scum offer frightened Leave voters a way out of this mess.
Look. I’m not saying I know this would have worked – I have no hard evidence to say that the numbers stack up in the required marginals – and the time when this might have been a realistic option has most definitely passed – many former remainers just want to get on with Brexit – but even now it seems a far stronger, and more responsible pitch than the chicken broth Labour are offering the electorate at the moment. I choose ‘chicken’ as my flavour advisedly.
Yes, the Labour manifesto has a few salty promises, but it still runs scared of the single issue that will decide the outcome.
To go into an election, supporting an ill-defined, half baked Brexit (surely the ultimate ‘Tory-lite’ and I don’t even approve of that phrase), promising to borrow half a trillion plus god knows how much at a time of huge economic uncertainty, dissing anyone with entrepreneurial aspirations, declaring war on a vaguely defined ‘other’… and telling people daily how awful everything is… well, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that Theresa May’s poll lead remains stubbornly beyond any previously recorded polling error.
1) ‘We must unite to defeat the Tories at all costs!!’
Oh yes, this is definitely at number one.
This mantra of the left… the same people who told anyone who doubted the Corbyn project to ‘Fuck off and join the Tories!’.
Well, whaddya know? They did.
But wait… there’s a real election happening and Labour are about to get absolutely hammered so suddenly the devout are realising that far from winning a majority being some sort of bourgeois Blairite peccadillo, without it the country will be well and truly stuffed.
Meanwhile, the ex-journalistic tragedy that is Paul Mason, who, a few months ago could be seen on our TV screens, jabbing his finger, muttering darkly about mass deselections is now twitching on the Newnight panel calling for a progressive alliance.
‘Seriously Paul, go fuck yourself.’ Sorry to swear in such a personally abusive way, but that was what I shouted at my telly the other night. The rank hypocrisy of calling for us all to unite to stop the Tories at all costs. If he and his kind really believed in ‘stopping the Tories at all costs’ then they wouldn’t have voted for a complete numpty to run the party… TWICE!
Other voices from Planet Corbo simply say ‘hold your nose’, vote for Jeremy. Let’s have a period of purdah where you keep your eviscerating anti-Corbyn blogs to yourself.
Give me a break. It really doesn’t matter what I think, or what I say. I’m just a rare and rather cute little marmoset. It’s neither here nor there whether the lefty chaterati on Facebook or Twitter are critical of the J-Corb – mostly we’re just talking to our own gang anyway. Whether or not different factions of the left think he’s incompetent and a liability – as I do – is irrelevant. That’s not going to affect the result. I’m voting Labour anyway, even if I do think he’s a waste of skin.
The only pertinent issue is whether non partisan, floating voters can be persuaded to trust the guy. They’re not listening to any squabbles we have – nor would the pretence that I, for example, thought for a second Corbyn could make a competent PM convince one floating voter to cast their vote his his way in a marginal. No. They’ll make that decision for themselves. Shutting up about it won’t improve things. We can’t pretend he’s doing a good job when he isn’t, as if somehow if we all close our eyes the very obvious shortfalls of him and his so-called team will go away. They won’t. The real problem isn’t me being rude on Facebook or this blog – that’s of no importance whatsoever – but the indifference of the voting public to someone they recognise as neither worth their vote, nor a passing thought.
As my wonderful Sheffield mother-in-law is wont to say: ‘Jeremy Corbyn? He’s got nothing about him.’
If we want the result to be not quite as bad as the polls suggest then we really need to tackle the strategy – not for getting pissed-off Labour centrists on board – but all the other people who are needed to make this thing slightly less of the car crash it’s promising to be.
If I sound angry and contemptuous – it’s because I am. I’m frightened as well. Really frightened – more so than any time in my life.
And I do lay what’s happening – from Brexit to the upcoming electoral catastrophe – firmly at the door of the persistent Corbyn believer. Je most definitely accuse.
The point blank refusal to acknowledge an overwhelming accumulation of evidence – which has far exceeded the Marmoset’s worst expectations – puts them in the same category as flat-earthers, homeopaths and creationists – and if I have no respect for those people, then I certainly can’t be respectful of evidence-denying Corbyn believers.
Faith over empiricism. No thanks.
As Michael Heseltine famously said: ‘Labour will win again, when it wants to win’. And that will be when we remember that being in power is the primary objective of Labour as a political party, and that electioneering IS an exact science.
Empiricism over faith. Always.
As for the Marmoset’s bottom ten desperate political clichés… to be fair, most of them stem from people’s desperation, but that makes them no less frustrating.
We need to stop thinking so simplistically. We need to get smart. We need to win again.
Of course, at the time of writing there are four whole weeks until polling day, during which time Theresa May could be caught doing something unspeakable to a kitten – or to National Treasure Alan Bennet with a slice of Battenberg – or both, at the same time, and on live TV..!
In which case, all bets are off, and you can scratch all of the above.