From the archive: Ten questions for Corbynites
A few days ago I wrote a post entitled ‘How does it end, Jeremy?’ The question I ended with for supporters of Jeremy Corbyn was this: Under what realistically conceivable circumstances could a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn win?
Let’s put this more precisely, with the following ten dilemmas. These aren’t meant as ‘gotcha’ questions, rather they are sincerely-meant challenges that I think Labour under Jeremy Corbyn faces and to which he and his supporters need to have reasoned responses to – for their own sake as well as for the party and the country.
(And no, Labour’s clear victory in the Oldham West and Royton by-election doesn’t mean that these questions can be shrugged off; Ed Miliband did equally well in early by-elections).
1. Labour has an electoral mountain to climb – what’s your strategy to win back not just Labour’s core vote but to gain much wider public support of the kind that Labour has had in the past?
2. Jeremy Corbyn is currently rated very poorly by the electorate for his leadership qualities – what does he need to do in order to convince the public he is a strong and competent leader?
3. The last few weeks in particular have created doubts among the public that a Labour government under Corbyn would protect their security – what does Labour have to do to reassure them?
4. Jeremy Corbyn promised a ‘new politics’ of open reasoned debate and participation by ordinary members in policy-making – how can this be made the reality, rather than rancorous division and the mobilisation of activists against some Labour MPs?
5. Relatedly, it’s clear that voters don’t like disunited parties – how can Labour remain a relatively united ‘broad church’, accepting the reality that many Labour MPs hold very different views from you?
6. If the fundamental challenge that any progressive politics faces is the public’s disengagement and disaffection with politics itself, what are Labour’s plans for wide-ranging political and electoral reform?
7. The right-wing media, in concert with the Tories, has set out to characterise Jeremy Corbyn as a ‘dangerous extremist’ (or even ‘terrorist sympathiser’) – how does Labour try to neutralise these attacks? (And the answer isn’t to just ignore them.)
8. George Osborne’s political-economic strategy is pretty clear – how does Labour get itself on the right side of the economic debate with the public and characterise the Tories as wasteful incompetents?
9. In addition, what happens to Labour’s current economic mantra of ‘investment, investment, investment’ if (as is more likely than not) there is another economic downturn?
10. Lastly, what’s Labour’s long-term thinking about how we respond to the massive challenges we face, such as demographic change, an ageing society, and rampant technological disruption?
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