Corbyn’s Pyrrhic Victory?
He hasn’t gone away you know! And, with a predictable outcome that few didn’t predict, Jeremy Corbyn has been returned as Labour Party leader after a seemingly interminable electoral process. His margin of victory is roughly the same as last year, but he has benefitted from the upsurge in membership since the 2015 vote. Owen Smith fought a brave fight, but it rarely looked like being enough to mount a credible challenge to Corbyn’s grip on the leadership. What happens next for both Jeremy loyalists, and the rebel MPs who make up most of the parliamentary representation?
The rebels haven’t been routed. Owen Smith made a decent effort. There were no big beasts of the Soft Left running for the job. They will feel it is no longer their party. The membership is no longer representative of the country at large. Despite Corbyn’s assurances, many MPs fear being the target of compulsory re-selection, a mainstay preference of the Hard Left since the 1970s. There is disillusion and despair where once there was hope; the Tories can carve up a massive overall majority at the next election if polls, media, and political analysts are anything to go by. They will have to wait in the very long grass.
The Corbynites will be unstoppable now. How many will stay the course is a valid question; party loyalty can be measured more by door knocking in winter rather than by clicktivism and retro posturing. Some will be in for a rude awakening. The answer to Ed Miliband’s defeat was not to go more to the Left, but to try to understand and represent the needs and aspirations of Labour and swing voters. This will not be achieved through street demonstrations but via parliamentary relevance and principled, but non-doctrinaire, core Labour values.
The impasse is there again. While MPs and leadership differ, the Tories, despite the farce of Brexit, continue to govern unopposed. The old Militant Tendency tactics and strategies of infiltration, mass intimidation and a belief in neo-Marxism are so removed from the beliefs of the ordinary voter, that the Labour Party, as per the Corbyn leadership, can no longer claim to represent ordinary working people, or indeed, the liberal (small ‘L’) strain in British politics. The best and the brightest may be either driven out of the party by the new puritans, or just decide to walk away from the fray. Politics will be the poorer for that; Labour may be finished.
Trump Lies, Clinton Wins
The first debate is over and what have we learned? We saw a bloviating Donald Trump unable to handle the concept of a basic argument. We observed a Hillary Clinton unbound, someone who barely broke sweat while her opponent came out with his usual nonsense. For many, they’ll never have seen Clinton seem so relaxed. Most of the viewers will have made up their mind. There is no contest. The Election is between a competent woman with tons of political experience and an Oswald Mosley figure, both ridiculous and frightening, one who is totally unsuited to any political office.
Hillary Clinton was offered a plethora of contradictory advice. Thankfully, she ignored most of it and instead tackled Trump on all his inadequacies in her own calm, methodical and, at times, humorous manner. She got one of the best sound-bites for the Democrats in a response from the Stupid One, when she pressed him on why he hadn’t published his tax returns. Trump’s remark that it was ‘smart’ not to pay his fair share. She did way more than she had to do. Her debate game was as good as she’s ever been in public, in any forum.
Trump was appalling, even by his own unbelievably low standards. He lied habitually, dozens of times over ninety minutes. He lapsed into incoherence and bluster, at one point slagging off Rosie O’Donnell. He demonstrated that he wasn’t fit to be the local dog catcher, let alone President of the United States. He admitted not preparing for the debate, and it showed. The Republican Party must be looking at this guy and wondering how the hell it even got to this. The Trump campaign has not only been hugely damaging for America, but also for the GOP.
Hillary Clinton barely had time to scratch the surface on all of Trump’s calumnies but she did score enough to steady Democrat nerves that had been in a bad way since her pneumonia bout. Trump is an unapologetic representative of White Nationalism. We can dress it up and call it all we like. A Clinton presidency can be a force for good; were Trump to ascend to the highest calling, it would be a truly nightmarish result. Hillary’s got this; if we see a continuation of what we saw on Monday night, then the US is heading for its first woman to take the chair in the Oval Office. November can’t come quickly enough.