Naked Politics Blogger
Well, there you have it folks, the Labour Party has officially imploded. Punch drunk from a devastating general election defeat, they’ve been left alone to sober up. Unfortunately after banging their heads and soiling themselves, it is clear that the inevitable hangover is not going to be pretty. Go to bed Labour, you’re drunk!
On one hand, I can’t help but admire the honesty. After years of Tory Blair’s plagiaristic policy writing, that betrayed the traditional support base of his party, Old School Labour is back with a vengeance. On the other hand, I can’t help but face-palm at the baffling decision to accept the role of impotent protest for years to come.
Just as ‘de ja vu’ was a sign of a glitch in the Matrix, a return to arguments that have lain dormant since the 1980’s will undoubtedly cause consternation across Westminster. But what does this result mean for the future of UK politics? Here are my three big predictions…
Jeremy Corbyn will not be our next Prime Minister, but Tristram Hunt might.
Corbyn is no more unelectable than any of the leadership candidates that he has just beaten; but that’s not saying much! His vapid spun-to-death opponents offered little in the way of an alternative. So his victory should be no surprise – a bold statement with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, I’m sure you’ll agree!
Nonetheless, the point being that Corbyn may have a cult following, but he needs to find the support of millions not thousands to win a general election. While there may be enough anti-Tories amongst the voting public to make the current government vulnerable, does shouty belligerence really offer a viable alternative in the cold light of day? Eventually a credible message will have to be presented and that is unlikely to be believed if it is preceded by too much talk of free unicorns for the poor.
Once the fanaticism subsides, the parliamentary Labour Party, with a distinct lack of Corbynistas present in the first place, will jump at the chance to oust him. And that’s where Tristram Hunt comes in. Assuming Chucka Umunna doesn’t emerge from his shell when the time comes, Hunt is my tip as Labour’s best chance of competing with Osbourne/Johnson/May in 2020.
The Labour Party will not split, but the country will.
Labour have bought the T-Shirt on that one. So they’ll be keen to avoid divisions that will only serve to benefit the Conservatives. After all, as a party with such disparate ideals, the one “value” that holds over all, is that the evil Tories must be stopped at all costs!
Unfortunately for the wider population, Corbyn’s seething resentment for the establishment is likely to deepen societal divisions. Our choice will be clear. You’re are either an unquestioning loyalist or you’re a Tory bastard. The vocal minority now have a voice. Their firebrand extremism will be heard. Expect a series of increasingly vitriolic rallies, and a leftier-than-thou bidding war on social media.
A more surprising twist though, could be the common ground that the left and right will find as they oppose the centrist status quo. Corbyn and Farage have more in common than you might think. They are both seen as a straight talking alternative to the PR-driven politicians that fail to connect with the general public. Both also seek a return to the good old days; Corbyn to the socialist 70’s and Farage to the imperialist 50’s. Their charismatic magnetism succeeds where monotonous pragmatism fails.
The Tories will take the centre ground.
Many are predicting that without an effective opposition, complacency could set in, leaving Conservatives free to focus on appealing to right-wing voters. I don’t see that happening though. Both David Cameron and George Osbourne have already attempted to calcify their “party of working people” message, pointing to Labour’s “abandonment” by embracing extremism.
Faced with opposition on both sides, the ancien regime will seek to marginalise adversaries in an attempt to broaden their own appeal. The narrative will be to highlight the compassionate but right-minded consensus, positioning the alternative as outlandish, naive and unrealistic. Whether they are skillful enough to walk the tightrope of Yin-Yang politics remains to be seen.
In truth, none of us can really say where we go from here. All we can say with a degree of certainty is that there are plenty of twists and turns to look forward to….