We are told that the Labour leadership race has been focussed on petty issues. How do we know? Polls have told us so. Yes, I get those warning signs going off too. But there are two things that need to be said about this.
Firstly, the things the public believe according to this survey are all Tory misdirections. Labour are, at least, no better or worse historically with the economy, but the Tories successfully meshed Labour with the global crash in the public mind. The Tory coalition gave us the slowest recovery in recorded history, a long period of stagnation with inequality spiralling out of control. So do you really think the public are thinking very deeply about this?
And the Tory record on immigration is nothing to be proud of, Cameron not only failed to meet his “no ifs, no buts” target, he actually increased net immigration. So do we believe the public has thought about this to any degree or have they just parroted what Murdoch and Dacre and the TV tell everyone?
Secondly, the big difference between supporters of Corbyn and New Labour supporters is that the latter want to chase voters wherever they wander. Even if they wander into wrongheaded economics or right wing hate roiled up by an hysterical media, New Labour wants to follow them and say, “Yes, you’re right, you’re always right about everything.” Corbyn supporters want to persuade and educate.
I referred previously to the Overton window. Public opinion is not a fixed, unswayable mass that needs assuaging. It can be formed and altered. The owners of the media know this more than anyone. Blair understood this by getting them on side. Jeremy Corbyn is going to be no sweetheart of the Sun or Daily Mail, so we all know this is going to be a challenge. That’s why Labour should sieze on this opportunity. A large section of the public are saying we understand this, we want to break this deadlock, this foundering neoliberal consensus. If the Labour Party cannot realise the time to ride that wave then it is redundant. Thank goodness that with Corbyn we seem to be witnessing a rebirth.