So much for the clandestine mutterings that Corbyn would be gone by Christmas, then. By now it must be obvious to even the dimmest 4.5%er that they won’t be finding a new Labour leader in their stocking come 24 December.
Do you really think it’s an accident that Corbyn has been photographed in a Santa hat? Actually, he’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, he’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice. And clearly a significantly chunk of the Parliamentary Labour Party have not been good boys and girls this year, repeatedly crossing the border demarcating legitimate dissent and deliberate destabilisation.
Despite a hate campaign of unprecedented venom from some of the people who are supposed to constitute his own side, Corbyn has somehow survived the controversies that culminated in the Syria vote crisis. By-election victory in the Oldham West by-election has even strengthened his position, at least temporarily.
Yet it is noticeable that Jeremy has thus far allowed the agenda to be determined for him, either by happenstance or by his opponents, with little attempt to make the political weather. There might be much to be said in favour of eschewing spin, but doing so comes with costs.
All politicians are rightly faced with questions when major events such as last month’s Paris terror attacks occur. But those kind of things are outwith their control. Where leaders of the opposition do have the opportunity to influence political discussion is via their policy announcements and by the speeches they make, and so far Team Corbyn has been slow to take advantage of the openings available.
Effectively this has given the rightwing media a free pass. Instead of having to discuss (and thereby publicise) potentially popular democratic socialist proposals for Britain’s future, they are able instead to concentrate on ludicrously detailed scrutiny of everything anyone on the Labour left has ever said, written or done.
Woe betide if the Daily Mail can ever establish that Jeremy Corbyn has once asked his wife ‘fancy a cup of tea, love?’, and that Pol Pot had once uttered those very words to his missus.
One serious newspaper has been reduced to running stories interpreting the dancing at the Labour Party office Xmas bash as a ‘risking the wrath’ of the new leadership. One hates to think what The Independent would have said if anyone had indulged in photocopying their buttocks, which foreign readers should understand is something of a British tradition on these occasions.
What we have had from Corbyn has largely come in the shape of principles, specifically his ‘three pillars’ of a new politics, a new economy and a different kind of foreign policy. All well and good. The extension of democracy and opposition to austerity and war command widespread support on the left. But a priority for 2016 must be for Team Corbyn to flesh out how we are going to get these desirable places.
Many of the ideas floated during the campaign, from women-only railway carriages to a right to buy from private landlords and the nationalisation of major utilities, have either been explicitly shelved or no longer merit a mention. The few concrete measures that have been advanced – most notably John McDonnell’s ‘socialism with an iPad’ call – remain vague.
Of course it’s early days yet, and no-one is suggesting that that the 2020 manifesto needs to be in place any time soon.
But what is currently lacking are the sort of eye-catching positive initiatives that Labour Party members can use to sell Corbynism on the doorstep. In 2016, Jeremy needs to shift off the defensive and start telling the electorate what a leftwing Labour government would do in office.
After all, if there are going to be perpetual anti-Labour press and broadcast shitstorms anyway, they might as well be about the message the Labour left wants to get over, rather than Corbyn quoting Enver Hoxha at office Xmas social.
Any chance of an early pressie, Jezza?