Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A couple of years of the preposterous Corbyn – and then Dan the Man to ride to the rescue?

"We do not have a Presidential system" is one of our more common British aphorisms. Well I'm not sure about that. Remember in an American election it's a binary choice. The winner wins because he is preferred to the loser. It's not rocket science. The worst President in my longish memory was the dreadful George Bush. But the American people preferred him to Al Gore and John Kerry. And you can sort of see why. In Britain we occasionally have a political leader who is head and shoulders above his/her main opponent: Macmillan, Thatcher, Blair in modern times. They would have beaten anybody. Then you have those who don't have anything like these qualities but win because the alternative is even worse. Heath, who caught the clever Harold Wilson napping. Major who had the fortune to face Kinnock. Cameron who had the unelectable Brown and then the (as it turned out) equally unelectable Miliband. Lucky Dave!

I thought that Ed Miliband's intelligence and personal decency would probably win him GE2015. I should have listened more closely to a very good friend, a woman brilliant in her profession, Oxford classics Graduate but not at all political. She said she wouldn't vote Labour because of Miliband. I protested (mildly) and she said (I paraphrase) that he was a bit of a dork. The personal brand of a Thatcher or Blair wins elections. The anti brand of a Brown or a Miliband loses them. When an anti brand (the appalling Michael Howard for example) is up against a strong personal brand like Blair then - no chance.

In GE2020 it looks like the Conservatives will be led by George Osborne. He will never be a Mega brand in the Thatcher or Blair mould, but like Major and Cameron before him he may well not need to be. He will only be beaten by a Labour leader who grabs the public imagination as Blair or Thatcher once did. I doubt that any of the four leadership contenders could conceivably do this. Corbyn an Old Trot. Burnham dull and duplicitous. Cooper clever but tainted. Kendall too lightweight. My preference would be Dan Jarvis who would be out of left field and could almost be the anti politics candidate to beat Osborne. But Dan shrewdly has other priorities for now. Maybe a couple of years of the preposterous Corbyn and then he could ride to the rescue. Labour cannot win in 2020 with another machine politician or policy wonk. Jarvis, or someone like him (who?) would not be the candidate of the Right or the Left. He would capture the imagination as Thatcher and Blair once did. Maybe !


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