Much chortling this week in right-wing circles concerning the Labour leadership campaign and the news that Jeremy Corbyn seems to be storming the field, with the first poll putting him way ahead amongst eligible voters in the contest. Further evidence of Labour’s supposed self-immolation was provided when those same voters where asked about their priorities in leadership qualities.
From Labour List:
“The top two were “in touch with the concerns of ordinary people” and “provides an effective opposition to the Conservatives”, both of which categories Corbyn was deemed to be the best in. Only around a quarter believed that the ability to achieve electoral success was in the top four qualities required by a leader – and Corbyn was ranked last in that.”
In the aftermath of an election defeat, the media narrative always runs heavily against you, and predictably our sheep-like pundits are seizing on Corbyn’s momentum as proof of Labour’s age-old preference for idealistic utopianism over the grubby realities of politics.
Well, up to a point. Doubtless Corbyn is far too left wing to ever be electable, but in a broader sense the poll results quoted above point to the Left’s far greater sophistication than the Right’s when in comes to understanding the real mechanics of power in British politics. Up against a Tory party which suffers the opposite affliction to Labour’s – namely that acquiring or maintaining the status of high office matters far more than any other consideration – true power often belongs to those who can set the agenda and effectively intimidate the Tories into following it.
Consider many of the Tory-led/Tory governments’ actions over since taking power in 2010:
- Radical green energy policies
- Promise of a referendum on the European Union
- Devolution of power to Scotland
- Gay Marriage
- Child care subsidies discriminating against stay at home mothers
- Gender board room quotas and pay gap legislation
- The “Living Wage”
Of these, the EU referendum and Scottish devolution were indisputably offered due to pressure from Ukip and the SNP respectively. The “Living Wage” was, prior to the election, regarded – and attacked by the Tories as such – as economically insane, red-in-tooth-and-claw socialism. Most interesting of all, however, are those measures on the environment, gender and homosexual rights that are thoroughly Metropolitan Liberal. Some of these are far more radical than those that Labour ever dared introduce during three terms of office, for fear of being branded ‘loony left’. Their adoption by the Tories show not only the huge success the Metropolitan Liberal-Left have had at driving the political agenda, largely through establishing dominant media narratives, but also that it is sometimes easier to get your supposed enemies rather than your friends to implement your desires.
Yes, of course it is true that the Tories have also followed policies in some areas that the old socialist Left – as distinct from the new Metropolitan Left – abhor, but rarely if ever against strong public opposition. The list above is especially sobering for social conservatives, who only have only an anaemic marriage tax break to show for all their efforts.
As a movement, we are in no place to laugh at the supposedly daft and dreamy radical Left that, for reasons we have still fully to take on board, continues to run rings around us.