‘The top line of the night is: “Labour viable under Corbyn” ‘
A Birmingham contact sent a welcome countertrend article by Gary Younge, journalist, author and broadcaster which attracted over 6000 ‘shares’ and more than thousand comments, a few of which may be seen in the earlier article.
In a memorable metaphor, Younge writes: “When it comes to assessing Labour’s electoral fortunes, Corbyn is treated with all the due process of a 17th-century woman accused of witchcraft and dunked in a river. If she drowns she’s innocent; if she floats she’s guilty and condemned as a witch. Either way the verdict is never in her favour”.
He recalls that before the December byelection in Oldham, where many predicted that Labour would lose to UKIP, the first edition of the Daily Mirror, published before the results came in, carried the headline: “Dark night of the polls for Jeremy”. Labour increased its share of the vote by 7.3%.: “The Mirror changed its headline for later editions. The new consensus was that this victory had nothing to do with Corbyn and was entirely due to the local candidate”.
So the foregone conclusions of Corbyn’s critics regarding the local elections had been framed beforehand, only to be tweaked later as the party was seen to have held its own
Young continues, “His critics were never going to admit that. Having set an arbitrary benchmark of a 400-seat gain, the hymn sheet was duly distributed and they sang of their disappointment in harmony . . . the very wing of the party that had spent the last eight months undermining him spent the night, without any apparent self-awareness, criticising him for not making a better impact on the electorate”.
- The notion that under his leadership the party could not appeal to middle England has, for now, been discredited. It held on to councils in bellwether towns such as Nuneaton, Crawley, Stevenage, Harlow and Southampton.
- It has won the London mayoralty – a feat the party has achieved only once in the previous four elections.
- Despite eight months of relentless attacks in the media, voters did not leave in droves; the sky did not fall in.
- Corbyn’s opponents in the party do not fully believe their own agenda and talk of plotting a coup has receded following these elections, not escalated.
- A large number of Labour voters in England remain loyal to the party and will continue to vote for it with him at the helm.
- And after asking whether the party would have fared any better if any of the other candidates had been running the show, Younge replies that there’s nothing to suggest it would have done.
“Corbyn kept his head above water. Like the witch-hunters of yore, for now they will condemn him for that”.