After an unexpected electoral success on 8 May, the Tories are now being “gifted a Labour party eating itself”, says Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer. The popularity of 66-year-old leftie, Jeremy Corbyn, the current frontrunner for the leadership of the Labour party, has “gobsmacked the Blairites” who thought that Ed Miliband’s defeat would be the cue to “retake control of Labour, not for a big chunk of the party to stampede off in the opposite direction”. With hindsight, however, it’s not so surprising. The stress inflicted by austerity and a revolt against political elites have been splitting the left all over Europe.
The truth that is emerging, says Rawnsley, is that Labour is really two parties. The social democrats despair of those to the left pulling Labour into an unelectable position. “The socialists rage that the pragmatists make so many compromises in the pursuit of power that it ends up not being worth it.” The only reason they don’t go their separate ways is because our first-past-the-post electoral system “mercilessly punishes splits”.
The lefties should “grow up”, says Philip Collins in The Times. Politically they are “idiots”, and they have “nothing to offer but puerile slogans” and a road to electoral oblivion. The Labour party was formed to send the “representatives of working men to parliament to form a government”. Corbyn will help toensure that that “original purpose is frustrated”. If one of the other candidates could “show some mettle” and argue passionately for the greater good of the Labour party, they would win the leadership contest, and deservedly so.
Hang on a minute, says Melanie Phillips, also in The Times. There are clearly a lot of young people who identify with the causes Corbyn espouses: anti-capitalism, anti-war, anti-globalisation and so on. “The centre of political gravity has shifted leftwards.” Tories write Corbyn off “at their peril”. They do, agrees Boris Johnson in The Sun on Sunday.
The reason this “muesli-munching, sandal-wearing Dave Spart… eat-the-rich throwback to the 1970s” strikes such a chord is that he is authentic. His ideas might be “economically ruinous”, but the reason he is beating the other leadership candidates – “a bunch of relatively anaemic, gelatinous and vacillating opportunists” – is that he looks “passionate and principled”.
As “Jezmania” spreads, commentators, “devoted to the craft of reading too much into transient commotion, will suggest he ‘has a point’ about capitalism and ‘engages young people’ with his ‘authentic’ idiom”, says Janan Ganesh in the FT. But “political gravity” will do its “remorseless work” in the end. Voters will “grow bored of the joke”.
The “unstable compound of trade union heavies and teenage dreamers that is Team Corbyn will melt down. Labour MPs will show no loyalty to a man who has voted against their party more than 500 times since 1997.” Ideas such as “zero austerity and withdrawal from Nato” will lose their “eccentric charm” and soon enough, certainly before the 2020 general election, Corbyn will fall.