Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

LET'S Say You Are a Top Division [...]; POLITICS

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

LET'S Say You Are a Top Division [...]; POLITICS

Article excerpt


LET'S say you are a top division football team. Newcastle United, say.

And let's say in the early rounds of the FA Cup you draw a nonleague outfit. Somebody really easy. Hereford United, for example. You'd expect to win at a canter, would you not? Well, football doesn't always work out like that, as United found out back in 1972, when they slipped to a shock defeat on a Hereford mudbath. But is politics? The Newcastle United of my analogy is the Conservative party. The Hereford United is the Labour party. Is Jeremy Corbyn Ronnie Radford in disguise? Politics, like football, has the occasional shock result, one caused by a complacent assumption by the favourite that the underdog has no chance.

They are rare, to be sure, but we don't have to go far back to find one. Four weeks, in fact, when Mr Corbyn trounced his three rivals to take the Labour leadership.

In winning, Mr Corbyn minted something new in British politics, a mass movement the like of which we have not seen before. Comparisons have been made with Harry Perkins, the left-wing Prime Minister hero of Chris Mullin's A Very British Coup. There's also something of The West Wing's President Jed Bartlet in Mr Corbyn's liberal decency.

Of course, Perkins and Bartlet are fictional. Mr Corbyn hasn't got a scriptwriter to smooth his way (hasn't got a scriptwriter at all, some might say.) His mass movement is largely made up of people who voted Labour at the last election. Yes, he will gather up some who voted Green, or for the TUSC, or Liberal Democrat. Not too many votes there, though. He may be able to fight SNP fire with fire and pick up some votes in Scotland. And he will undoubtedly ignite the enthusiasm of those too young or too disengaged to vote this year.

But the solid mass of voters in the centre, the people who decide elections, aren't going to buy into all of this. They may like Mr Corbyn's new politics, his refusal to play the same old game. But they won't like his policies.

The danger for the Conservatives is that it may look all too tempting to trot on to that pitch and spend five years showboating to the crowd.

That may just be the danger. …

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