domingo, 25 de setembro de 2016
Jeremy Corbyn’s path to Downing Street
Jeremy Corbyn’s path to Downing Street
Here are 5 things that would help get the Labour leader into Number 10.
By CHARLIE COOPER, ALEX SPENCE AND TOM MCTAGUE 9/26/16, 5:30 AM CET
LIVERPOOL — Labour MPs began their annual party conference in a despondent mood Sunday. Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide reelection as leader has condemned Labour to the political wilderness, they fear.
Virtually everyone in Westminster — lawmakers, pollsters, political strategists, media pundits — agrees: With Corbyn at the helm, there is no way Labour can return to Number 10 Downing Street.
“No. Just no,” one Labour MP who opposed Corbyn’s reelection said when asked if there was any hope of a general election win with Corbyn in charge. “The polls are clear.”
Corbyn’s triumph over the challenger Owen Smith, with the support of 61.8 percent of party members, “traps Labour in an even deeper hole than his first election,” said Crispin Blunt, a Conservative MP and chairman of the Commons’ foreign affairs committee. One senior Conservative simply burst out laughing when asked if Corbyn has a path to power.
But could the experts, the pundits and the polls be wrong? These, after all, are unpredictable political times.
Here’s what would have to happen:
Theresa May slips up
May has looked unassailable during her first two months in Downing Street. But her position is far more fragile than it appears. The prime minister has a majority in the House of Commons of just 12, a host of powerful, outspoken backbenchers and a divided cabinet stuffed with big egos. And we haven’t gotten to Brexit yet.
Everyone’s playing nicely so far, but May has yet to be tested by a political crisis, and there are huge challenges facing her untested administration over the next few years — not least a messy withdrawal from the European Union and the prospect of an economic slowdown. It is far from inconceivable that the wheels could come off before 2020, particularly if the Tories become complacent in the absence of an effective opposition.
“We’re Sherlock Holmes without Moriarty, Superman without Lex Luthor” — Tory MP
There are some Tory MPs who privately consider a Corbyn government a real — if remote — danger. “We should not underestimate the threat,” one Tory MP said.
Tom Mludzinski, director of political polling at ComRes, said that it’s “very difficult” to plot a route for Corbyn’s Labour. But a severe economic might crisis might damage the Conservative Party, thus making it more likely.
“The Tories rely on the fact that voters tend to go to them when they want strong leadership, to get through tough times, a safe pair of hands on the economy,” Mludzinski said. “If that perception is damaged by ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, even a recession, if Theresa May is damaged, then — while it’s hard to see Labour winning in terms of perception of economic confidence — it could suppress the Tory turnout.”
Beyond that, it will be hard for the Tory party to increase its majority for the third election in a row.
“The Tories have just gone from coalition to a majority. It’s a big ask then to increase their majority or even to hold it. History suggests you tend to lose seats the longer you are in power, so it’s not unreasonable to expect the Tories would lose a few seats at the next election. The question is how many, and to who?”
Still, many Tories consider Corbyn’s prospects rather bleak, with some MPs lamenting the loss of a strong opposition. “Greatness requires the counterbalance of greatness,” said one. “We’re Sherlock Holmes without Moriarty, Superman without Lex Luthor.”
Labour comes together
Corbyn secured the top job a year ago in a landslide win that turned British politics on its head. But his leadership has been overshadowed by internal party divisions. His old-left stance alienates the majority of the party’s MPs who believe Labour, as it did under Tony Blair, needs to occupy the center to win elections.
Corbyn has been a longstanding advocate of the benefits of immigration and opposed anything that smacks of anti-migrant, but there were indications Sunday that he was open to a harder line.
Those concerns about Corbyn’s competence, his communications skills and the divisive antics of some of his supporters will not disappear now that he has won a fresh mandate. But if the moderates can rally around the leader, and if Corbyn is willing to build bridges, Labour could turn its guns on the Tories instead — and start acting like a true opposition.
If the party could get through a few months without senior figures turning on each other, and land a few blows against the Tories, the prevailing narrative of Corbyn as incompetent and unelectable could start to turn.
Jeremy Corbyn MP gives the thumbs up to supporters after being announced as the leader of the Labour Party
“I don’t think he will win, but I think he can,” said Paul Stephenson, one of the leading figures in the Vote Leave Brexit campaign. “There are a bunch of people who say Jeremy is the best thing that’s ever happened to the Tory party. Remember, most of these people are Cameroons, very close to the former prime minister who no longer have a job because they lost an election.”
Stephenson said that Corbyn needed to pick a message and stick to it religiously until the next election. “The Tories are going to be looking to move on immigration and other issues which could help them close the gap with the lower middle classes. Jeremy needs to reconnect on immigration and crime and choose another message — the NHS say. He needs one big thing, a cause célèbre.”
The Liberal Democrats recover
The centrist Liberal Democrats were almost wiped out at the 2015 general election. A cluster of seats in their stronghold in the southwest of England were snapped up by their former coalition partners, the Conservatives. However, the Tories’ hold over some of those seats is tenuous and a revival of the Lib Dems’ popularity could undermine May’s prospects of winning a general election.
Tim Farron, the Lib Dems’ leader, has been trying to position the party as the new home of the 48 percent of the British population that voted to stay in the European Union, many of whom will now feel that May isn’t representing them.
The UKIP threat fades
UKIP, the populist party formerly led by Nigel Farage, has been cast as a big threat to Labour in its industrial working-class heartland in the north of England and Wales.
However, UKIP now has its own challenges as it tries to find its way after Farage, under an unproven new leader, Diane James.
“There’s a real opportunity for Labour to take back a lot of people from UKIP,” said Stephenson.
Labour may try to shore up its vote and steal UKIP’s thunder by tacking to the right on immigration. One wing of the party, spearheaded by former shadow business spokesman Chuka Umunna, has called for Labour to oppose any Brexit deal that allows a continuation of freedom of movement.
Corbyn himself has been a longstanding advocate of the benefits of immigration and opposed anything that smacks of anti-migrant, but there were indications Sunday that the leader was open to a harder line.
Corbyn’s Euroskepticism and pledge to respect the referendum result is a good start, Stephenson said.
“Jeremy Corbyn is far better placed than a lot of people in his party to do this. He’s more in touch than most of the Blairites who are trying to fight the old war again.”
He said Corbyn could win over a large chunk of the population if he focused on apprenticeships to fill the gaps in the economy left by falling immigration from Europe. “That could be an area where Labour could really reconnect,” he said.
A left-wing coalition
Labour’s chances of winning another general election were drastically reduced when it lost Scotland.
Scotland has become almost a one-party state, with the Scottish National Party holding 56 of 59 seats. However, Corbyn could join forces with the SNP in a left-wing alliance.
The SNP said before the 2015 general election that it was open to backing a Labour government to keep the Tories out of power in Westminster — and “nothing has changed in that regard,” an SNP spokesman said, despite Corbyn becoming leader.
Corbyn could also reach out to the Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru. The Lib Dems, despite their leader Farron being no fan of Corbyn, may also be willing to join a coalition.
Even if all the stars align, Corbyn’s chances of winning are remote. But stranger things have happened.
“I am no longer making any political predictions,” Mludzinksi said. “Who would have predicted the last year or two? Nothing can be ruled out.”
Charlie Cooper , Alex Spence and Tom McTague