By-election victory shows Corbyn eminently “electable”

By   /   December 7, 2015  /   16 Comments

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Instead of defending Corbyn some “left” papers like the New Statesman and the Guardian have echoed the right-wing line that Corbyn is too far left and will make Labour “unelectable”.
Now they’ll have to eat their words

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Ever since he won the British Labour leadership, Jeremy Corbyn has been under constant attack from every UK newspaper.  The right-wing media can’t stand his progressive policies. Every week they manufacture another Corbyn scandal.  Most times they are laughable. On one occasion Corban apparently committed the capital crime of not bowing low enough when laying a wreath at a war memorial!

Unfortunately, instead of defending Corbyn some “left” papers like the New Statesman and the Guardian have echoed the right-wing line that Corbyn is too far left and will make Labour “unelectable”.

Now they’ll have to eat their words. On Friday Labour not only won handsomely in the Oldham by-election. It also significantly increased its vote share – to 62%.

This victory makes sense if you actually look at Corbyn’s platform. His Keynesian policies are considerably more popular than the austerity championed by Cameron and the Labour Right.

So is Corbyn’s antiwar stance. Less than half (48%) of British voters approve of “the RAF taking part in air strike operations against Islamic State/ISIS in Syria.” [YouGov]. Among Labour voters that percentage drops to 35%.

By campaigning against the bombing Corbyn was able to help swing public opinion, inside and outside the Labour Party, in his direction. The YouGov poll showed support for the bombing dropping from 59% to 48% from November 17 to December 1.

To my mind it was a major victory, in a free vote, for Corbyn to get Labour MPs voting 2 to 1 against the bombing, when so few of them voted for Corbyn to become leader.

Of course many of the new, young party activists also played a role. According to the Guardian, many Labour MPs (presumably the pro-war ones) “are exasperated by Corbyn’s attempts to mobilise members behind him in order to force MPs into line over Syria and other policy.” Amazing. Party members actually trying to make their representatives accountable!

The Corbyn supporters are not daunted. As Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell wrote in the Guardian: “The message is clear: unite around the principles of the new politics and we can be the most powerful force for progressive change in generations.”

This “new politics” will also mean working closely with the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and the Greens, who also voted against Cameron’s motion to bomb Syria.

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16 Comments

  1. esoteric pineapples says:

    Interesting to compare this blog with Chris Trotter’s blog – https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2015/12/05/a-benn-not-a-bennite-finally-the-blairites-have-someone-to-replace-jeremy-corbyn/

    Chris is arguing that the Establishment will win in the end, Keith is arguing for people power. If the Establishment wins, there will be awful lot of disillusioned Labour voters who will start looking elsewhere for an alternative.

    • Aaron says:

      I think it depends how much time you spend reading the MSM. I think Chris is right to point to the efforts being made to get rid of Corbyn and it is a very real threat but Keith in this article has given us some actual stats that paint a more positive picture.

      Especially good to see that the British public is still only 48% in favour of the air strikes despite everything they’re being forced to read.

    • Richard Christie says:

      If the Establishment wins, there will be awful lot of disillusioned Labour voters who will start looking elsewhere for an alternative.

      i.e. the slow learners.

  2. saveNZ says:

    +100 Keith

  3. Black Panther says:

    I hope the Labour party in NZ take note of this.

  4. kropotkin says:

    Here’s hoping that Corbyn will rally Britain’s anti-war, anti-austerity, and anti-neoliberal forces behind him. Those Blairite MPs, who think they know better, can either join the Tory Party, or form their own breakaway party.
    Significantly, unlike Corbyn, Cameron didn’t allow his MPs a free vote on whether to bomb Syria although, to give them credit, there were many among them who had learned the lesson from the ill-advised war on Iraq and the NATO intervention in Libya.
    Labour were always going to retain Oldham West in the by-election, but they significantly increased their majority, and the Tories finished in a very poor third behind UKIP, with less than 10% of the vote.
    To those newspapers who argued that Labour won “despite Corbyn”, I say “bollocks”!

  5. Kim dandy says:

    Papers all over the world are ‘full of it’.
    Anyone see the new ‘Facebook’ style – mind.com? Interesting that it allows no advertising and messages are encrypted…setting people free…maybe? Could be why Corbyn is popular with the people – dillisioned with the neoliberal, consumerist ‘c**p’ being feed to them, day after day. Time for something different!

  6. Andrewo says:

    Oldham 🙂

    Clearly you’ve never been there. It’s not exactly a representative electorate. But hey, dream on if you wish.

    If you want to see where Europe is going, look to the recent French elections…

    • kropotkin says:

      As a matter of fact, I have been Oldham. It has a higher proportion of intelligent voters than most parts of Britain. And they give racists and neo-Nazis short shrift.

  7. sgthree says:

    So a Labour candidate wins a seat held by the previous Labour encumbant for 45 years, with 62 % of a 40.3% turnout, and this is considered a resounding endorsement? To put this in perspective, The successful Labour candidate received only 24.9% of the vote, which had this been a general election, would have been the 2nd lowest winning percentage of the vote in history. The actual number of votes for the winning candidate was less than Michael Meacher got in each of the last 6 general elections.
    Resounding endorsement? Yeah nah.

    • Except, SHThree, it was a by-election , and turn-outs at by-elections are traditionally very low.

      If it was only a “40% turnout”, why didn’t the Tories mobilise their supporters to defeat the Labour candidate?

      Where was the Tory vote?

  8. Stuart Munro says:

    A strong performance by Corbyn will have NZ Labour pretending to left values much quicker than rational argument or local polling.

    His position on bombing has the twin virtues of humanism and pragmatism – hard combo to beat when they go hand in hand.

  9. Sam says:

    Yeah nah, guys. Sorry. Two slight problems chalking this up as a win for Corbyn, rather than Labour.

    1) The local party deliberately selected a ‘moderate’ candidate (against the ‘Corbynite’ candidate), who was the leader of the local council and ran a very good local campaign. He certainly wasn’t using Corbyn policies on the doorstep. Jeremy Corbyn chose not to campaign there.

    2) Polling (that most dismal of sciences…) showed that most Labour voters didn’t know who Jeremy Corbyn was (not that they’d necessarily know who any party leader was, but it we are trying to claim the result is a stonking vote of confidence in Jeremy Corbyn it is a worrying stat – more likely we had a bunch of Labour voters going to the polls and doing what they always do – vote Labour). Also local anecdotal evidence from campaigners (for what it is worth) claimed that those who did know who Corbyn was were more likely to have switched from Labour to UKIP.

    Neither of these points mean that we should argue (as some Blairites and Tory MSM have) that Corbyn was a drag on the party. Clearly not! But I think we should be not so quick to claim this is the country deciding that they love ‘Corbynism’.

  10. Andrewo says:

    A reality check:

    There is a good chance Corbyn won’t even make it to the next election as leader of the Labour Party.

    There is open revolt within the party against his laughable policies, to the extent that many Labour backbenchers are voting for the government and openly making speeches which are critical of him.

    Conservatives want him to hang in there: He’s the gift that keeps on giving, what with his unilateral disarmament policy and embarrassing friends (IRA, Hezbollah etc)

    #toriesforcorbyn 🙂

    • kropotkin says:

      Explain, then, why the Tory/Blairite mainstream media spends so much energy attacking him.

      • Sam Sam says:

        Actually I think we sometimes underestimate The average Britians thirst for war. Every poll ever done in Britain always polls higher than 40% for military interventions. But by itself, it won’t be enough to discourage voters away from Corbyns economic policies, we are talking about the most unequal nation in the OECD, and the most egalitarian political leader they’ve had for some time.

        Or Andrew could be right. Maybe he knows more about UK politics than Britians themselves