Although Corbyn has attracted some new Labour supporters, many others remain unconvinced. Janice Turner (£) outlines the horrible dilemmas facing moderate Labour supporters – stuck between the Scylla of a Labour wipeout and the Charybdis of a defeat mild enough for Corbyn to cling on:
Because the worst-case scenario for Labour moderates is if Theresa May’s majority isn’t so huge, just 40 or 50. I am braced for any election outcome except the arsonist still huddled in the burnt-out shell, shouting “It’s fine! We were only lightly singed. And anyway, it wasn’t my fault.” Which Corbyn will do without shame or honour, his chief objective being to cling to party apparatus whatever the cost. Squatting inside Labour’s blackened hulk he — or his designated hard-left successor — will wait until the next ravaging fire in 2022, which he will embrace as a purifying flame.
Here John Rentoul explains why it might be a good idea for centre-left voters to hold their nose and vote for Labour. A sharp fall in Labour seats – many of them held by moderates – could make it easier for a Corbynite successor to get their name on the next leadership ballot.
Which brings us to plan C. If Labour is heavily defeated on 8 June, the number of MPs needed to reach the 15 per cent threshold would fall. If the number of Labour MPs, 232 at the last election, fell to 150, any candidate would need the support of 26 MPs and MEPs to stand (because there are, until 2019, 20 Labour MEPs). In other words, precisely the number who supported Corbyn in his second leadership campaign.
Although Corbyn is polling very poorly, May’s campaign hasn’t got off to a particularly rousing start. In one of a series of posts on election prospects, Phil BC analyses the problems facing the PM:
While Jez held a rally (of course) and took awkward questions, May helicoptered to a golf club the other end of the country for the softest of launches with tame Tory councillors and assorted lickspittles. No journos, no members of the public. Crosby’s nightmare is to have her cornered and expected to answer questions where “we’re spending record amounts” won’t do as an answer. Their strategy has to be based around keeping her away from the public. There is nothing to be gained from engaging with them, and possibly a few losses as well.
Here’s an interesting dissection of Corbynism by Daniel Allington – long, and perhaps a bit overegged in placed, but well worth reading.
It is not just that members who voted for Corbyn in 2016 (i.e. after and despite the bad opinion polls, the dreadful showing in the May elections, the loss of the referendum, and the vote of no confidence from those it was Corbyn’s job to lead) are — as Warren’s YouGov poll shows — far more likely than those who voted against him to engage in low-investment forms of political activity, such as sharing campaign messages on social media, and far less likely to engage in high-investment forms of political activity, such as delivering leaflets or knocking on doors. It is that they have a very different idea of what the Labour Party is for, viewing it not as a party of parliamentary government or opposition but as an opportunity to engage in demonstrations, protests, marches, and rallies — as well as thrilling social media battles against insufficiently radical Labour MPs (and their supporters). These are the people for whom Corbyn was speaking when said ‘We’re all in power. We just don’t realise it. We have the power to speak, to influence, to demonstrate, to demand’ (interviewed in Nelson 2015).
In today’s Sunday Times, there’s a pretty devastating piece(£) by former Labour staffer Harry Fletcher.
The atmosphere was very, very fraught, and tense, and unhappy. People were working ridiculous hours. There was a glaring need for proper line management, and it just wasn’t happening. There was no diary, no schedule, few or no regular team meetings. Nobody knew what their job was. We discovered in passing one day that there were tens of thousands of unopened emails to Jeremy that no one had ever read.
What angered me most was their inability to understand why they’re perceived as anti-semitic. Jeremy believes he is completely non-discriminatory. He would never be hostile to someone in the street. But he is, if you like, anti-semitic along the institutionalised lines of the Metropolitan police in the 1990s, when they messed up the Stephen Lawrence investigation.
This prompted a baffling response from the Labour Media team’s account – for Harry Fletcher seems to be a Labour supporter and certainly worked for Corbyn. Just terming this an ‘attack story’ and ‘Not serious’ doesn’t deal with the charges made.
Finally, news of two other elections.
Len McCluskey’s victory in the Unite General Secretary contest was fairly narrow and based on a low turnout. It was also overshadowed by the suspension of challenger Gerard Coyne from his regional officer post. This story divided responses along predictable partisan lines, so it might be worth taking a look at coverage in the Corbyn-supporting Skwawkbox blog as well as, say, this piece by Nick Cohen.
And in France voters are faced with an intriguing and alarming four way split as they go to the polls today. Here Natalie Nougayrède analyses some of the factors in play:
For decades, the left-right divide defined how voters behaved. Now, it has been blurred. With the fragmentation of France’s postwar parties, many people seem ready to cast a ballot not according to once well-identified, ideological affinities, but in search of who – or what – will best express a sense of revolt.
A cigarette salesman in Montauban, in his 30s, says he is thinking of switching from Le Pen to Jean-Luc Mélanchon, the leftwing firebrand who has been rising in polls recently. The salesman struggles to explain why. “They say Le Pen has said something controversial recently,” he says. “I’m not sure what” – a possible reference to the outcry that followed Le Pen’s recent statement about France not being responsible for the deportation of Jews under the Vichy regime.
There are so many possible play off pairings that voters, unusually, are having to vote tactically even in the first round.