Adam Memon, Head of Economic Research at the Centre for Policy Studies:
‘If Corbyn’s unrealistic and often contradictory economic policies were ever implemented, they would undoubtedly have a devastating effect on the economy. Taken together with his views on foreign policy and defence, his programme is unlikely to threaten the centre-right. What should concern the centre-right is that individually, some of his policies seem quite popular. For example, YouGov polling shows that 58 per cent of people support renationalising the railways and utilities. In part, this is a failure to communicate the benefits of privatisation and the market economy but it does show a profound dissatisfaction with how these markets are functioning.
The Government should respond by reinvigorating a popular capitalism which empowers consumers. Such a programme would entail cutting switching times in the energy market, rapidly expanding competition and choice in the water sector, slashing burdensome planning restrictions to drive house building and removing barriers to entry for new challenger banks.’
Simon Richards, Chief Executive of The Freedom Association:
‘The last time the Conservative Party faced someone as leftwing as Jeremy Corbyn in a position of power was when Ken Livingstone became leader of the GLC. Then the party made two fatal errors. First it laid on the abuse so thick that the reality appeared tame by comparison; secondly it underestimated Red Ken’s shrewdness and charm.
This time, the party is showing more sense, avoiding abuse of a man who, for all his faults, demonstrates qualities people respect: humility, austerity (ironically!), honesty and consistency. Ultimately, the public worked out Livingstone, and will do the same with Corbyn. Their flawed socialist policies will always be the undoing of the hard left. It is these policies which the Conservative Party must expose, and you can rely on the good sense of the average voter to do the rest. The rough stuff can be left to his enemies in the Labour Party!’
Rebecca Coulson, ConservativeHome columnist and former Parliamentary candidate:
‘‘Threat’ is a powerful word. Is Jeremy Corbyn a threat? A threat to Britain; a threat to the centre right? Fears about his certain involvement in future foreign affairs’ decisions are certainly legitimate. However, he – and what he represents – is, above all, a threat to the Labour party: a long-time, well-intentioned, stabilising part of British politics. I can’t see Labour recovering from the blind arrogance that has led to the make-up of the disastrous new shadow cabinet. How should the Conservatives respond? Well, good Conservatism is responsive, for sure. But it is responsive only when necessary. The lack of a serious opposition means that Cameron needs to hold fast to his sensible modern centrism, and refuse to be pulled, unthinkingly, to the left or right. He’s in power partly because his opponents were so poor – he’s better than allowing that to continue to define this government.
Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance:
‘Those of us who believe in lower taxes, fiscal responsibility and living within our means should be deeply concerned both by Jeremy Corbyn’s emergence as Leader of the Opposition and the appointment of his henchman, John McDonnell, as Shadow Chancellor. As the TPA’s Alex Wild pointed out just yesterday, their belief in “the overthrow of capitalism” and a raft of extreme policies that have been tried and failed elsewhere absolutely must be challenged as the battle of ideas which we thought had concluded in the last 1980s recommences.
There is a danger that their anti-austerity narrative could help to shift the Government’s position leftwards on taxation and spending, which would spell disaster for the fragile economic recovery we are experiencing. Messrs Cameron and Osborne must stick to the course of getting public spending down and balancing the nation’s books while demonstrating the folly of price controls, mass nationalisation, printing money and the other economically illiterate ideas emanating from the new Labour leadership.’
Ryan Bourne, Head of Public Policy at the Institute of Economic Affairs:
‘Thomas Sowell once said “Socialism has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it”. We can now add ‘Labour members’. Make no mistake, Corbynomics – tax austerity, money printing to fund government, renationalisation, seizing property, and price and wage controls, would be an unmitigated disaster for Britain. Yet broadcast regulations on political parties means these ideas will now get a wide audience. This may not shift the window of what is politically possible enough to get Corbyn elected – but shift it will, if these aren’t challenged.
Some Tories who think one-dimensionally will say ‘tack left’ to occupy moderate Labour territory. But this will eliminate the historic opportunity to use this episode to shift the centre permanently to the right, as Thatcher expertly did. She is purported to have said her greatest achievement was Tony Blair. It would be no achievement for Cameron and Osborne to legitimise a future slightly-saner-version-of-socialism by willingly shifting left now.’
Kate Andrews, Head of Communications at the Adam Smith Institute:
‘Jeremy Corbyn’s political philosophy is almost completely cancelled out by the history books. Talking about inequality grabs attention, but his policy solutions – re-nationalising utilities and ‘maximum wages’ – are the stuff of 1970’s nightmares.
The real threat to the centre right is not Corbyn’s regressive philosophy but rather the strength and resolve of its own leaders. The moderately left-leaning ramblings of Miliband quickly twisted the arm of the Conservative Party during the election, pushing them into irresponsible pledges that ring-fenced heavy-spending sectors, doubled free hours of childcare, and threw unaccounted billions at the NHS. That weak-will even trickled into the Budget; the National Living Wage transformed the “party of working people” into the party willing to threaten at least 60,000 jobs to beat the left at its own game.
The centre right has nothing to fear if its leaders stand strong for a pro-growth, pro-business agenda. But if Miliband had them dodging left and running for the hills, it’s worrying to think how much further they’ll sprint in the face of Corbyn.’