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Ding Ding – round one!

I consider myself an average sort of guy but in a detached sort of way I’m genuinely excited by Jeremy Corbyn’s assent to the Labour leadership. It’s certainly going to herald a fascinating period of politics in Britain, requiring ‘the Establishment’ – all of it – to ask itself some searching questions as it comes to terms with the new circumstances. It has also brought into much sharper focus the differences between those of both right and left-leaning persuasions, let alone those who occupy the centre primarily because they believe that is where you win and lose General Elections and therefore power.

Above all there’s going to be huge uncertainty.

Even the Tories are going to be affected. They’re going to have to be careful about complacency for one thing. Those in their ranks who in recent weeks have been struggling to contain their glee at Labour’s discomfort, hoping that a Corbyn victory would effectively kybosh Labour’s chance of ever winning another General Election – never mind just in 2020 – may be in for a rude awakening. They have built careers, lifestyles and prejudices on the presumption that, if ever a genuinely left-wing Labour party did actually gain the chance to take the wheel of the British national bus, its policies and prejudices would be seen once again for what they really are (viz. completely misguided), taking the country rapidly and inexorably to hell in a hand cart as the reality of how the world actually works gradually derails each of their schoolboy-level social and economic policies one by one.

Even if these ultra-Tories are right, initially they may revel in the chaos that ensues and in the beloved mantras “Don’t blame, me I voted Conservative” and/or “Every time Labour gets in it wrecks the economy and then the Tories have to work hard for ten to fifteen years to restore it back to sense and normality” but by then, of course, it might be too late because the world of British politics may have been permanently turned upside-down.

Bring it on, I say.

The main thing I’m going to enjoy is the turmoil coming the way of the Westminster Bubble ‘Establishment’. All parties are similarly in the firing line.

Those Labour MPs, many of them who have never held down proper jobs, who have been wallowing in the status of being members of Parliament with its privileges and seductive ego-fluffing underpinning of their own sense of self-importance are going to be in for an uncomfortable ride, especially if it means they’ll be in danger of losing their seats. In their life game-plan this was never supposed to be part of the script. Their fundamental problem – in common with the many career-Tories parked in safe seats – is that their lives, their beings, have been grounded for years in the belief that (barring anything unfair and unlikely happening at the ballot box) they were naturally-entitled Establishment ‘insiders’ and would remain thus until at last they were either forced by age to retire and/or chose to depart in order to take up some of those juicy “do nothing, keep your nose clean, go to the board lunches and collect the stipend” non-executive directorships that interested businesses leaders are always happy to offer ex-MPs.

Someone like Corbyn coming in will put the cat amongst some of those pigeons.

One possibility – in theory at least, I put it no higher than that – is that Corbyn and some of his hangers-on will be exposed as (yes) principled but naïve and … er … basically not up to the task at hand.

Never mind being good at  networking and smoky back-room deals, under the laws of the jungle and natural selection it happens annoyingly often that those who have the ability to do top jobs unusually rise to be given the opportunity to do them. Meanwhile those who remain on the outside as mavericks and slogan-chanters, shouting at the television whilst hiding behind the safety of the sofa, tend to be those who character-wise – but also genetically and intellectually – would prove to be incapable of doing much more than that. It’s the principle that in life we all reach our own level and that we all end up where we deserve.

Another thought occurs.

Supposing that a Corbyn-led Labour party – backed by a majority of its supporters recent or veteran – did run badly aground?

Maybe their policies on the Trident nuclear deterrent, foreign policy, the EU, NATO, the United Nations – you name it – become thwarted by outside influences such as say world opinion, Russia declaring war on someone, Britain’s treaties, the state of the economy, famine and/or pestilence and the IMF’s refusal to bail out the Treasury once any Corbyn-Labour government runs out of money. There would be a lot of very frustrated and energised left wingers mightily hacked off and feeling sore. They might soon react by taking to the streets, deliberately adopting civil unrest and/or beginning national strikes in order to stick two fingers up at the world at large.

And, from the other side of the coin, suppose that ‘the Establishment’ in one form or another decides that the country is going to the dogs under Corbyn-Labour and must be saved from itself.

Who can say that such ‘right-thinking people’ (is that an oxymoron?) wouldn’t get together behind closed doors in order to plot some sort of coup designed to restore the natural order of good old Britain as it used to be – i.e. complete with village cricket games, cucumber sandwiches and warm beer – on behalf of what (one day) will be a suitably-grateful nation.

It’s happened before, of course.

I refer to the infamous 1968 coup that was allegedly planned (quite how seriously is open to conjecture) by Lord Mountbatten, Lord Cecil King and Hugh Cudlipp amongst others at a point in the fortunes of the then Labour government were at one of their lower ebbs. According to folklore, King was the most forceful architect of the caper and wrote an Enough is Enough! leading article in the Daily Mirror only to be sacked shortly thereafter by his employers at the International Publishing Corporation  (IPC).

Interesting times, perhaps, these. Strap yourself into your armchairs, beers and cocaine at the ready, folks!






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About Simon Campion-Brown

A former lecturer in politics at Keele University, Simon now lives in Oxfordshire. Married with two children, in 2007 he decided to monitor the Westminster village via newspaper and television and has never looked back. More Posts