Me and one Bradley Allsop are currently writing a public exchange together. He has just written his piece which can be found here, below is my response.
While Mr Allsop may be correct in many things, on Mr Corbyn I cannot agree. The way Labour is going it could create a all out civil war within the party. I am not saying the argument that members, and even MP’s would create a new party is something which persuades me though. As Stephen Bush has highlighted recently,i cannot see MP’s leaving en mass. I personally would have to consider my membership of the party if Corbyn did win. However the problem with Corbyn leading the party isn’t a mass exodus, but how can he maintain discipline within the party? This is a man who has rebelled against his party over 500 times. How can he whip MP’s into shape when he has done it so vociferously? He himself has admitted on Newsnight that he’d have to accept difference of opinion. This sets him off from the gate as a weak leader, which will lead a dysfunctional fractured party, and far away from an electable construct. What we’ve seen in recent years is unity even in the face of bad politics, the only thing worse is disunity in the face of awful politics. This is something which is tantalising close to reality. Indeed Bradley claimed Corbyn had found popularity yet i don’t find any evidence for this, that is apart from the left-wing of the Labour party.
When I argued that creating University free again is regressive, i did so on the basis that A) regressive in the sense i was using it meant returning to a former or less developed state, and B) the current system we have is progressive. The people who earn the most pay the most back, and it’s created on a sliding scale, with people earning below £21,000 paying nothing at all. Free tertiary education is a wonderful idea, but a very expensive one. Especially when resources would be put to better use helping close the cognitive gap in preschool, primary education, and secondary school years. This is the real unyielding problem which is killing social mobility. As Fraser Nelson has pointed out state schools operate under a system of inequality. Rather than abolishing tuition fees, creating an NES, destroying academies and free schools where evidence of progress is mixed, Jeremy needs to look close to home. Even the ‘arch Blairite’ Kendall has managed this, maybe because she unlike Corbyn cares about outcomes rather than the process. The tuition fee policy is a key example, England puts more poor kids through university than Scotland a country with no tuition fees does. The argument put forward that we want to win for winning sake, can be dismantled by watching Tony Blair’s final speech. I don’t feel I can add to his analysis, in what was one of his finest speeches he made his point remarkably clear.
I highlighted recently, the last Labour government created a great deal of things to help people escape poverty. Investment in schools, hospitals, sure start centres, lowering rates of teenage pregnancy, and much more were a feature of Blair’s government, and will hopefully always be a feature of a Labour government. People forget that the Blair government which managed to transform the country, also pledged to balance the books. So yes we must challenge the Conservative rhetoric as Bradley suggests, but if the party decides socialism is the answer then nothing will change except Labour being finished as a credible party of opposition and anyone who went doorknocking will understand that. I’m not looking to 2020 as Bradley suggests, as Corbyn won’t make it to that point even if he is elected leader. Arguing it may cost ‘short term electability’ is wrong, we’re already consigned to 10 years in opposition, we lose the next election and it’s 15. If we elect Corbyn we’ll be staring down the barrel of 20 years in opposition with no end in sight. There is nothing short term about that. That might seem paradoxical, how can he kill us in the long term if he only lasts a couple of years? I believe he would simply for the image he would create around Labour, it would become chernobyl like.
While it’s fair enough to argue that the voters rejected Miliband because of piece meal politics, there needs to be some evidence to back this up. Yes people like me are focusing on polling data, we’re not being paralysed by the polls but they can’t be simply ignored either, as if they mean completely nothing. In my last reply i gave various polling evidence to suggest that Corbynite socialism is as dead as a dodo within the electoral sphere. The Fabian report, Labourlist report, and now Jon Cruddas don’t make for nice reading. Indeed an analysis of Yougov polling, and of Ken Livingstone’s election campaign lays on the scale of the task which is ahead for Corbyn and his followers. There is very little evidence (if any at all ) besides intuition which tells people like Bradley that Labour lost because they weren’t far enough to the left. History isn’t kind either, remember 1983? The problem with non voters as i analysed in my last response is that many don’t think UK elections matter. Does offering a left wing solution already on offer change this? It may do, it may not, but in that case one must always be sceptical and be happily surprised if you’re proven wrong. Also, while Bradley seems to not really care about electability much like Brian Eno, I cannot take the same view. Not when i see the pain, and hardship being pushed upon the already disadvantaged in our society. Going left seems attractive i can understand that. Why not launch an all out assault on the Conservative machine? The problem is a left wing party hasn’t won an election in this country since 1974, and there is nothing to suggest they will.
The Northern Powerhouse document which Corbyn has released is also deeply uninspiring. It’s taking views from 1200 people and isn’t any sort of plan. Ideas such as Northern Assemblies are nothing new, indeed the Blair government even floated the idea until the people in the North voted it down. His arguing for higher wage, better skilled jobs is something which everyone can get behind, His solution is two-fold. Firstly, the National Investment bank which will be paid for by cutting tax relief and subsidies to corporations to the tune of 93 billion pounds. His second idea is for a ‘people’s quantitative easing’. Chris Leslie’s article in the New Statesman makes a good case why this QE is a bad idea. It removes BOE independence, and of course if countries could print money to destroy deficits everyone would do it. In reality like Leslie argued it’s more than likely to push inflation up and create a nightmarish scenario which will only hurt the poor. His want to deliver procurement projects in for the British government is admirable, as are his plans to build broadband networks. However all of this costs a lot of money, and if his plan is just to print more, and crack down on every penny of tax avoidance then he might as well promise free sweets to kids, and free alcohol to everyone over 18.
So in my mind he’s not only not electable, and his rhetoric is offering almost pie in the sky promises which if he ever got into power either wouldn’t be able to keep or would create chaos if he did.