“In my Beginning is My End.” How Project Corbyn Will Fall Apart
Political original sin. We should talk about it more.
You do not have to believe in God to believe in political original sin. In fact, it is probably better if you do not.
David Cameron was its most dramatic victim. In 2005, when he stood for the leadership he was a no hoper. Cameron won, not only by astonishing with an energetic conference speech but by promising to take the Tories out of the EPP. His admonition about the Tories “banging on about Europe” was one given as he fed the eurosceptic beast.
Eleven years on, one could see the fear etched into Cameron’s face as he campaigned against his own party to remain in the European Union. Win or lose, his sin had caught up with him.
Political sin has already felled by his successor. Theresa May tried to ride the beast hard but found a Remain backlash deprived her of a majority. Adam lost his holiness. May lost her aura of invincibility. The result will be the same.
To reverse Mary Queen of Scots, "En mon Commencement gît ma Fin."
It has always been far more interesting to wonder what the original sin of Jeremy Corbyn is. This week it became clearer.
arrogance is part of a pattern that stems from the top of Corbyn’s Labour
Chris Williamson MP, in an interview with Russia Today (who else, eh?), proclaimed Jeremy Corbyn to be the best leader that Labour had ever had. Yes, ever had.
Labour has had six prime ministers. Corbyn recently lost an election. Yet to Williamson, Corbyn was better because he “will transform” the country.
Williamson’s mind-boggling arrogance is part of a pattern that stems from the top of Corbyn’s Labour right down to its membership.
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott recently said no-one could remember supporting Tony Blair. Blair won three elections and transformed the country. He made huge errors but the country was a better place for his leadership.
Abbott’s lazy assertion was, ironically, rather Blairite. A Year Zero approach to Labour politics was one of Blair’s many weaknesses.
That the left is so ready to dismiss his successes and heighten his failures reveals an ignorance about how hard successes in politics are and a hubris about error - as if failure is above them.
On Sunday, John McDonnell appeared on Marr. When questioned about his comments on lynching Esther McVey (now Work and Pensions Secretary), he replied that Parliament had accepted his apology. The only trouble was that Parliament had done no such thing, especially as he had refused to apologise.
That Marr did not question him further puts to rest the Corbynista refrain of media bias. That McDonnell made such a blatant untruth shows his chutzpah.
Similar arrogance is often seen on social media from Corbyn supporters. This Twitter army think that rules of decency do not apply to them because they are fighting for Good Things such as equality and a better Welfare State.
They justify their exceptionalism with simplistic moralism.
Nor is the man himself without fault. It takes a certain kind of arrogance to refuse to resign in the face of an overwhelming vote of no confidence. In 1990, nearly two thirds of Tory MPs supported Thatcher and she ended up resigning. Not Corbyn.
His extreme supporters declared him Prime Minister after he lost an election. Small victories over the government allow them to rehash the meme. Ed Miliband changed not only British policy but also Western policy when he voted against Syrian air strikes in 2013. Yet no one annointed him prime minister.
The ectastic reaction to the election result was understandable, given expectations. Labour still lost though. A degree of humility might have been appropriate considering that the loss landed the country with five more years of Conservative government. Neil Kinnock resigned after winning more seats than Corbyn. He did so with a tearful and personal apology. Not Corbyn.
Corbyn instead said he would be prime minister by Christmas. Later, he predicted Labour would “probably win” a 2018 election. He never explained a strategy to make this happen as if he expects to get to Downing Street like Moses crossed the Red Sea.
It is the electorate who write their leader’s political obituaries. They are rarely kind
The curiosity is that Corbyn’s zen-like vanity is making this government far more stable than it has any right to be. Ultimately, the arrogance of his inner circle and Twitter Praetorian Guard will bring him down.
There is a strong chance that Corbyn will win the next general election. Imagine the public reaction if Corbyn tries to face down the electorate as he has done his own party members over the Single Market.
If the next election is in 2022, Corbyn will have been in frontline politics for seven years. Gordon Brown once said public figures had eight years before voters tired of them. If correct, then the public may weary of Prime Minister Corbyn quickly. It may be that he is luckier and given a relatively long tenure in Downing Street.
Either way, once the public have had enough they will rip him to shreds as they have done all previous occupants of Downing Street.
It is the electorate who write their leaders' political obituaries. They are rarely kind. Words such as arrogant will loom large as they chip on Corbyn's granite.
As Peter Henessey has said, politics is a nasty theatre of cruelty. To expect a different fate for Corbyn is, well, rather arrogant.
About the author
Educated at Durham University and UCL, Graham is Disclaimer's editor and a regular contributor. He has written for numerous publications including Tribune, Out Magazine and Vice. He has also contributed to two books of political counterfactuals for Biteback Media, Prime Minister Boris (2011) and Prime Minister Corbyn (2016).
A democratic republican lefty, he struggles daily with the conflict between his ingrained senses of idealism and pragmatism.
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