I got my first campaign-related injury this week: a dog bite on my leaflet-delivering fingers, exacerbated by pulling my hand out of the letterbox so fast that I ripped the skin off another finger. Still, shake it off, carry on.
Nobody who knows me or reads this blog will expect me to change my tune over Corbyn just because there’s an election. But I want to assure everyone that I will be working very hard to win votes for Labour. Shaking it off, carrying on.
OK, so things aren’t looking rosy – and a few days ago Corbyn had the brass balls to say “if leaders go unchallenged, they can make some of the most damaging mistakes”. But with the distant warnings of 81% of Labour MPs and rock bottom polling ringing ironically in our ears, how do Corbyn-knockers like myself shake it off?
Let’s go through the game theory.
- Corbyn pulls off a miracle and is victorious. Great things will come of it. Any concerns over his capabilities pale in comparison with the benefits of saving the NHS, moderating Brexit, increasing public investment and seriously addressing international social justice and environmental issues. McDonnell’s economic policy may appear “out there” but I trust him to listen to the right people, u-turn if necessary and actually do the maths – as opposed to the politically driven facade currently operating in the Treasury. In 2015 I said that if Miliband lost, it would be the end of the NHS in its current form. The 2017 election is an extraordinary second chance to stop the now openly destructive Conservative policy depleting the NHS to the point of collapse.
- Corbyn keeps seats, or only loses a few. The Tories bite will be tempered.
- Corbyn loses seats. Labour moderates and pragmatists will need to be able to prove clearly what went wrong. It must be unequivocal that they and the PLP are not to blame because they didn’t pitch in.
In all cases, the only winning strategy is to support Corbyn – and hard. I would strongly recommend that Corbyn-skeptics rack up seriously high campaigning hours. This will allow us credibility if outcome three comes to pass. By all accounts, win or lose, Corbyn isn’t going anywhere after the election. He will only (be allowed to) fold when the autumn party conference passes a motion to change the leadership candidate selection rules (meaning candidates need less than the current 15% of Labour MPs’ nominations – subsequently making it much easier for another left-wing candidate to get in the running.) I don’t necessarily have a problem with another left wing candidate. I am a Corbyn skeptic not a leftist skeptic. But what we (and those we represent) cannot afford is another leader with no serious plan to get into power – and it is unlikely that a candidate crow-barred into power by the ideologues in Momentum will have such a strategy.
So while I may feel despondent and resentful in my darker moments, there is plenty to spur me on. Even if it is just to ensure there will still be an NHS doctor to attend my wounds if the dogs get more vicious.