Corbyn has proved time and time again that he's not going anywhere, but it seems the tedious relics of New Labour are still in denial

The local election results, which are notoriously unhelpful for predicting national trends, are being used as another excuse to bash Corbyn by those unable to admit they were wrong about him

Matthew Norman
Monday 07 May 2018 09:37
Comments
Local elections 2018: The final results

So that’s that, is it? One set of inconclusive local election results, and the undertakers at New Labour Bereavement Services are polishing the brass handles of Jeremy Corbyn’s political coffin once again.

They have done it so often and fervently these last two and a half years that a class action for repetitive strain injury could be imminent. They had the Brasso out when he didn’t wear a tie or sing God Save The Queen, when Hilary Benn resigned, and with every coup that crashed on take-off. They summoned the priest to read the last rites when Theresa May called the snap election that would bury the entire party. Now they’re digging a hole in the ground because Labour didn’t win Barnet. (Of course it didn’t. The party is so riven by antisemitism that it is barely three years since it had a Jewish leader.)

If history teaches that the Corbyn obituary tends to be premature, New Labour’s laureates of entitlement are pitifully slow learners. At the back of the remedial class, passing the snide notes to Alastair Campbell, sits a man who once, and for decades, believed a great deal of what Corbyn believes today.

In the 1980s, David Blunkett led Sheffield’s council when it backed the miners and styled the “Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire” a nuclear-free zone. Later, as with the other reformed Marxists and reprogrammed Trots among his cabinet buddies, he had a eureka moment. No one ever rumbled the catalyst for an epiphany that came when he found himself close to a red box. Whatever it was, this erstwhile red-blooded radical embraced the anaemic amalgam of Thatcherism and social democracy known as Blairism with impressive fervour.

A decade later, he was so over his disgust at what the Murdoch press did to Neil Kinnock that he was dining and drinking with Rebekah Brooks and accepting a handsome stipend to write for The Sun, the paper that claimed it personally defeated Labour in 1992.

Jeremy Corbyn asks Theresa May if she felt 'the slightest pang of guilt' when Amber Rudd was forced to resign over Windrush

Suppleness fades with time, of course, and the elasticity of mind that enabled that remarkable journey has been replaced by arthritic rigidity. To this unlikely child of Thatcher, as to mummy herself, there is no alternative.

The New Labour way is the only way, to which end he pops up from time to time as chief mourner at a funeral infuriatingly robbed of its corpse. “Now there can be no doubt,” runs the headline on today’s Mail On Sunday tour de force. “Corbyn hasn’t a prayer.”

It may be Blunkett’s finest column on the subject since September 2016, when he celebrated Corbyn’s reflection over the mighty Owen Smith in the same journal. “The Labour Party under Corbyn is not electable,” he wrote. “I am at a loss to understand what the 313,000 members who voted for him believe … the eventual outcome will be, other than annihilation at a general election in 2020.”

If something seismic had occurred since to question that analysis – something unimaginable like, I dunno, like Corbyn winning a far higher share of the general election vote than Blair in 2005 – one of Blunkett’s humility would acknowledge he got it wrong before and might be wrong again.

In the absence of any such event, he can’t be blamed for sticking to the old script. But how much weight should he or anyone put on these council results?

Traditionally, due to the low turnout and predominance of local issues, they have been poor indicators of national voting intentions. But even if these ones defy the trend, they seem to show that we are roughly where we were last June, with the two main parties deadlocked.

Those who think hard cash a good guide, or at least a less bad one than the outraged squealings of third rate generals fighting old wars, will note that on Betfair barely a slither splits the Tories and Labour so far as winning most seats at the next election. Another hung parliament is the favourite outcome.

The punters evidently disagree with Blunkett and Campbell, possibly because they recognise that they have ceased to be political pundits, and become politics’ answer to the football phone-in ranter. The one who didn’t fancy the manager when he was hired, resents him more now for having made him look daft, and greets every apparent reverse – a scoreless draw in a minor cup match, racist chanting from a vocal minority of the crowd – as vindication of their initial misjudgment.

“And now on Six-O-Six, it’s David from Sheffield, who wants Corbyn out.” 
Hi Kelly, Hi Wrighty. Look, I’ve been saying this since before he got the job, but we’ll get nowhere till he’s sacked.” 
“David, it’s Ian. I remember you calling several times last season to say he’d get you relegated – and he took you to within a few points of winning the league!”
“You’re a legend, Wrighty, but that’s cobblers. We all know last season was a fluke ’cause the other lot were crap.” 
“And now they’re not?” 
“My point exactly. They are, and the other night he still only got us a draw. He hasn’t got a prayer, mate. He has to go…”

Like those of every football coach other than Alex Ferguson, all political careers end in failure. But that day isn’t a nanosecond closer for Corbyn now than it was on Thursday morning, however desperate his undertakers are to break open the embalming fluid and dance on his grave.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in