James Forsyth

Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn is no longer a joke

Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn is no longer a joke
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The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815–1914

Richard J. Evans

Allen Lane, pp. 752, £

Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to Labour conference started strongly before flagging in an overly long middle section. But I suspect this won’t matter much. Those in the hall could have listened to Corbyn for hours and the speech will, I suspect, clip down neatly for the news.

The speech was a reminder of why the words Jeremy Corbyn, Prime Minister are no longer funny to Tories. At the start of the speech, Corbyn had a grand old time mocking the Tories for their divisions over Brexit, their billion-pound deal with the DUP and the failures of the election campaign. Corbyn’s jokes might not have been great, but they were effective. There is something resonant about the idea of a tired government clinging to office for power’s sake and the Cabinet divisions over Brexit make the Tories an easy target for any opposition leader.

Corbyn’s argument was that, post-crash, the centre ground of politics has shifted to the left. He argued that the door was now open to his 21


century socialism, which doesn’t sound that different to post-war socialism to be honest.

The biggest question in British politics right now is, is Corbyn right? Six months ago few of us would have thought he was. But in the election Labour got 40 percent and increased its share of the vote dramatically. Now, I can hear you say that a significant number of those who backed Labour in June did so because they were confident that Corbyn wouldn’t win. But the interesting thing is that the public don’t seem to have recoiled now that they have seen how close Corbyn is to power. Labour are still polling at 40 percent or above in the polls and their activist base is even more enthused now than it was in June. As I say in the coming issue of the magazine, Corbyn will be the next PM unless the Tories pull themselves together and revive the idea of the property owning democracy.