September 13, 2015


Left Winger's Victory in Labour Leadership Is a 'Wail of Despair' for the Party (Alex Massie, Sept. 12, 2015, TIME)

In all, 600,000 Britons were eligible to vote in Labour's contest and Corbyn has become, much to his own surprise as well as everyone else's, the standard bearer for the radical left. His constituency is a ragbag collection of Marxists, Trotskyites, environmentalists and youthful dreamers. There are more of these people than anyone previously thought.

Corbyn's success is, at least in part, a dismal commentary on his rivals. Neither Andy Burnham nor Yvette Cooper, the experienced former cabinet ministers who were supposed to be the front-runners, have managed to inspire Labour's membership. Indeed their experience has been part of the problem, suggesting their leadership might offer little more than a refreshed version of the party rejected in the election earlier this year, and not the wholesale change Labour most likely needs. Liz Kendall, the fourth candidate in this political donkey derby, might have offered that change, but has spent most of the campaign telling the party it is wrong about everything. This has not proved a popular or winning message.

In such circumstances, Corbyn's "authenticity" has added value. He offers a clean break with the past and his downbeat style - reminiscent of a veteran and disappointed geography teacher - is so far removed from the slick and cultivated image management favoured by most contemporary politicians that he seems a perfect vessel for the anti-politics mood of our time.

In that respect, Corbyn's rise should be understood as a kind of wail of despair. The Labour party is not prepared to compromise with the electorate. Its reaction to a devastating election defeat in May - the party's worst performance in 30 years - has been to vacate the centre ground of British politics and move sharply to the left. 

Posted by at September 13, 2015 10:33 AM

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