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Jeremy Corbyn: There is a ceiling on his support of around 40 per cent —  enough for only the slenderest of majorities, and more likely a hung parliament  (Chris McAndrew CC BY 3.0)


The forward march of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party appears to have halted. During February, the Conservatives  once again took a lead in the opinion polls. If there were a general election now the polls point to a near-exact repeat of the June 2017 result. Considering what an appalling time Theresa May’s government has been having, this is astounding. Corbyn’s Labour critics like to point out that under current political circumstances their party should be enjoying a 10 to 15 percentage-point lead in the polls. Furthermore, the next election will be fought with a new Tory leader. No one in Westminster, with the possible exception of May herself, believes that she will lead the Conservatives into the next general election, and her successor will inevitably have a polling bounce on taking office.

What should be worrying Corbynistas is that there appears to be a ceiling on support for a Labour Party in their mould of just over 40 per cent. Although such a share of the vote has produced landslide victories in recent decades, with a return to two-party politics (the Tories and Labour took 82 per cent of the vote in 2017, something not seen since 1970) it is not enough to produce anything but, at most, the slenderest of majorities and more likely a hung parliament.

Beyond the polls there is a contradiction at the heart of the Corbynite appeal. The key people at the heart of the socialist project — Corbyn himself, shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Labour’s director of strategy and communications Seumas Milne, head of Momentum Jon Lansman, and election strategist and very recent Communist Andrew Murray — are wedded to a politics which had its previous heyday 35 years ago. Their politics is Bennism without Tony Benn. None of them has anything like the stature of Benn — none has served in a Labour government, let alone as a leading cabinet minister; none is even a moderately capable orator, let alone of the quality of Benn; none has the romantic backstory of ardently fighting to join the people by renouncing their peerage — but the policies they wish to implement could have been taken straight out of Benn’s 1981 deputy leadership bid. This is perhaps not surprising since they were all — to a greater or lesser extent — involved in Benn’s campaigns.

Some of these policies, such as a full-throated opposition to nuclear weapons and an ardent embrace of minority rights, go down extremely well with Labour’s new Momentum-inspired supporters. Other policies, such as support for Irish republicanism and emphatic sympathy for the Soviet Union, both very much part of the Bennite package and still espoused by the Corbyn clique, might seem rather past their sell-by date to the new adherents, but are not dealbreakers. With Benn’s reinvention as a theatrical act and national treasure in his later years his extremely dubious, close-to-fellow-travelling stance on the Soviet Union has been downplayed. Reading the Benn diaries unambiguously shows that, on all issues that mattered, the old socialist, even though he had an American wife, denigrated the United States and empathised with the Soviet Union. For some weird reason the Corbyn clique have transferred their Soviet sympathies to Putin’s Russia. Before taking their current roles, Milne and Murray were perhaps the two leading British apologists for Russian aggression against Ukraine. 
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amcdonald
March 3rd, 2018
1:03 PM
Theresa May`s speech yesterday was a ball of fluff. But the worst of it was the journalists questions at the end. May mentioned money once. Nobody asked her how much Brexit might profit the UK or when. Mrs May is no Julie Burchill on the subject. Mrs May is a ponce (in JB`z definition). In 2015 Public Image Ltd released Shoom on their `What The World Needs Now Is...` album. It`s the musical and cultural `prelude` to the glorious chaotic dawn of Brexit . The BBC will never play it. It`s free on YouTube.

amcdonald
March 2nd, 2018
2:03 PM
Tories R Us or Red Brexitannia ? A general election would have Jeremy `Trump` Corbyn winning and Theresa `Clinton` May losing ? Mrs May is giving a speech today. I expect nothing but her talking in Clintonese.

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