Corbyn’s Decline a Sign of the New Politics

Just as Americans did in 2016, and Australians in 2019, Britons are nervously looking down the barrel of seeing a massively disliked and blatantly unfit left-wing opposition leader somehow slither into office, due to a combination of relentless media-elite cheerleading and hopelessly divided conservative opponents. But the shock (to them) losses of the Democrats and Australian Labor cannot be solely sheeted home to both parties’ refusal to shed a reptilian and unpopular leader.

In both cases, voters simply refused to endorse the left-wing agenda. In the US especially, voters rejected the political status quo. Left-wing media tried to make much of the fact that the Republican party itself was rife with “Never-Trumpers” – completely missing the fact that for many American voters, that was entirely the point. They voted for Trump to shake up the Republicans as much as to keep out the Democrats.

A similar seismic shift seems to be moving to mercifully keep Corbyn out of No. 10.

It’s apparent as soon as you speak to any Labour figure who is not demented, or as you parse the writings and quarrels of the Corbynite media commentators, that they know that the Corbyn moment is over. The evidence, after all, is hard to refute, even if infighting Tories seem oblivious to it.

Let’s start with the polls. After the election miracle of 2017 when Labour wasn’t wiped out, the party was tending to score in the high 30s. By March this was down to the low 30s. Since the beginning of May only three polls have put Labour above 30 per cent, and most have the party in the mid 20s, some in the low 20s.

…A week or so ago Jeremy Corbyn — the man who became the anthem of Glastonbury in 2017 — managed an approval rating of minus 58. People with approval ratings of minus 58 do not generally become prime minister. They generally become footnotes.

Of course, as we’ve seen in America and Australia, polls can be shockingly wrong.

Let me try you on actual votes. In May’s council elections, tipped (rightly) to be catastrophic for the Tories, Labour lost 84 seats and the Lib Dems and Greens gained 900.

In the Euro-elections shortly afterwards Labour received 14 per cent of the vote, 6 per cent behind the Lib Dems and 1 per cent ahead of the Greens. In the Peterborough by-election Labour won (just) but fell by 17 per cent compared with its 2017 general election performance…[in] Scotland without whose seats it is very hard for Labour to win an overall majority. Scottish Labour, which elected a Corbynite as leader in 2017, has seen its share of the vote decline, reaching 19 per cent in recent polls and coming sixth in the Euro-elections in Edinburgh. Sixth.

Promising rivers of free stuff and spouting the sort of right-on nonsense that panders to the young, ignorant and bone-idle, Corbynism naturally appealed to students and media luvvies.

Everyone I take seriously believes that Labour membership has declined since the 2017 euphoria, and that the party may have lost more than 100,000 members in the past year. Anecdotally it’s mostly the younger ones peeling off again, together with a section of Labour’s centre-left cadre. The 1960s socialists who, defeated, had sulked in their reading groups or joined various anti-imperialist parties involving Ken Loach over the years and then came back for Corbyn are now the most vocal. Which is why the antisemitism crisis just won’t go away.

None of this remotely points to a party likely to gain power or a leader likely to become prime minister.

There are recent rumblings that suggest that Corbyn’s days as leader could be numbered. Rumours of ill-health and unfitness and leaks about a “toxic” culture abound. But if even the blatant anti-Semitism of Corbyn and his apparatchiks haven’t been enough to turn Labour stomachs, what will it take for them to ditch their loathsome boss?

So should the Conservatives take heart from all this? Probably not.

In the last few months something latent in Britain has become manifest, catalysed by Brexit. It is the realisation that we don’t have to choose between the Conservative Party or the Labour Party to govern us in perpetuity.


The parties to watch may well be the Lib Dems or Brexit, or any of a myriad of independent parties, left and right.