Jeremy Corbyn’s revolutionary strategy is simple: there are millions of people out there who either voted for someone else or didn’t vote at all who are simply waiting for a truly hard left platform from the Labour Party.
Unfortunately for him, it’s also a fantasy. The idea that people left Labour to vote UKIP or Conservative because Ed Miliband wasn’t sufficiently anti-Trident, pro-immigration or in favour of high taxes is an obvious nonsense. Aside from the fringe supporters of people like the SWP, TUSC and the Greens, that then leaves the non-voters. On this front, Labour has two problems: first, non-voters tend not to vote, and second, it turns out that they hold quite similar views to those who do vote.
We know this because Peter Kelner presents a new 10,000-person poll in today’s New Statesman examining the views of those who voted Corbyn in the leadership election, those who are current Labour voters, and those who are potential Labour voters. On every issue it makes devastating reading for those dreaming of a new socialist majority:
Reading that table is like watching a Final Destination film – you can see all the elements of catastrophe in place, ready to batter the protagonist in a grisly way, even while he remains blissfully unaware of the fate that awaits him. It induces a cringe of anticipation as what is to come is made clear. The simple facts are well beyond any margin of error – the hard left, readers will be shocked to learn, is disastrously out of step even with the wider electorate and even existing and potential Labour voters.
For the Corbynites, as for the ill-fated film characters, of course, these fears are nonsense and those who raise them are to be dismissed. No doubt YouGov, the New Statesman, Peter Kellner and the 10,000 people polled will now be added to the list of typical-Tory-bourgeois-capitalist-Murdoch-military-industrial-neocon-lizards who are deceiving everyone to try to stop the glorious revolution.
Which means that they’re going to try this, in full. Paired with the polling is a lengthy interview with the Poundshop Lenin himself. He sings a few of the old classics for his adoring fanbase – abolish 1980s strike laws, vote against any action on ISIS, oppose all welfare reform.
In the meantime, his own supporters are mobilising to either deselect dissenting MPs or to cow them into obedience by the threat of deselection. Simon Danczuk appears to be the anointed Admiral Byng, chosen pour encourager les autres, and no doubt his colleagues will be watching to see what may happen to him.
If the deselections or intimidations succeed in their aim – protecting Corbyn from any possibility of overthrow – then his project will come to full term. That would mean taking the polling above and bringing it to life as a full campaign, with the results delivered at the ballot box rather than in the pages of the New Statesman.
More tax with Labour. More debt with Labour. More strikes with Labour. Weaker defence with Labour. The Conservative messages write themselves, and for the first time they’d be abetted by a Labour leader whom it seems would nod enthusiastically to each suggestion.
The Corbynites are in for a shock when their internal consensus is put to the electoral test. But so are all those armchair cynics who sniff and declare that while obviously they dislike socialism, they don’t bother to get involved and leaflet or knock on doors to stop it because “the parties are all the same”.
If Corbyn survives until 2020, then the two main parties will be more distinct from each other than they have been for thirty years – and that’s before any rightward manoeuvres by the Conservatives to take advantage of Labour’s distance from voters.
At some point, those people too will realise that the Labour leader means what he says, and if elected would genuinely pursue this path to wrack and ruin. Resting at home in the comfortable belief that others will do the work to defeat him is insufficient. It’s time to snap out of the self-indulgence, clamber out of the armchair and take the chance to destroy socialism for a generation.