No method of electing a party leader could be better suited to the election of a dour monomaniac than that adopted by the Labour Party; and if the rumours are true that certain Tories have signed up to vote for Mr Corbyn because, if chosen, he would make Labour unelectable, nothing would better illustrate the idiocy to which certain Tories are prone.
In our present precarious circumstances, no one is unelectable. A crisis, not necessarily of the government’s making, could easily swell popular discontent so that it would prefer any alternative; and that is without counting the fact that all governments tend to become very unpopular with time, whether they deserve it or not. Time for a change: and Mr Corbyn would certainly be a change.
In a certain sense, he is unassailable. No one could call him a hypocrite; he lives his ideals. He is not like Mr Blair, a public egalitarian in search of a private fortune; he is a man of grinding and unnerving integrity. In the House of Commons he has voted for his beliefs, not for his career; while the majority of the MPs were at the trough of expenses, he declined to participate. But there is not a bien pensant cause in sight to which he does not wholeheartedly subscribe with the uncritical belief of an apostle, and for which he would be unprepared to go to the stake; and I think that he is a man of such probity that he would let the heavens fall so long as his version of social justice was done. Unfortunately, the heavens could fall, and they would fall on all of us whether we vote for Mr Corbyn or not.
Unlike Michael Foot, to whom he has often been compared, he does not appear to be a man of erudition, culture or literary talent. That, of course, is a point in his favour, electorally-speaking, the other main point in his favour being his evident authenticity by comparison with other politicians, most of whom are as synthetic as the toys that used to be put in cereal packets. He may dress like a social worker from the 1970s, but at least it is from his own choice, not that of a public relations firm. He is genuine, and many people cannot see that while insincerity is usually a vice, sincerity is not always a virtue. He is not the product of an advertising agency, and by self-evidently not being such a product he is an advertising agency’s dream. We should not delude ourselves that he is unelectable.