Sticking to aspects that are germane to the matter in hand right now, my strategy incorporated the following elements that had positive leverage potential:
- The next (scheduled) GE would be five years ahead, a helluva long time
- Corbyn was 68; McDonnell 66
- In the ensuing years there were likely to be a number of truly loonie-left Local Authorities to provide public evidence of what these latter-day marxists do, given a sniff of power - 5 years being a mighty long time for them to hold their discipline
- Da Yoof, whilst capable of surging onto the streets and into the polling booths in a fit of childrens-crusade enthusiasm, are nowadays notoriously fickle, flighty, of short attention-span, and low propensity to make commitments beyond the next Deliveroo pizza horizon
Then the long drawn-out Brexit stuff engulfed them, and Corbyn's resolute fence-sitting - almost indistinguishable from being fully impaled on a sharp bit at the top - has begun to annoy quite a number on the Left. The tone of many a leftie article just now is: too late, you old git, we've got your number now, and if you change your mind this late in the day, nobody will believe you. Anyhow - remind me why we ever liked you in the first place? And where's that pizza?
Oh, how fickle is fortune, eh? (see item 4 above). And then we come to item 2, and this week's "Corbyn has lost it" meme, so rapidly fanning out from the Murdoch press. As with all good malicious rumours, per the Trump handbook (see Scott Adams passim) the key is to say something that immediately chimes, that was almost on everyone's lips anyway, that crystalises the already-present but non-articulated thought. And, let's face it, this one falls on pretty fertile ground. The timing was perfect.
Of course, Team Corbs (I believe they go by 'LOTO') have rushed into full Rapid Rebuttal mode - but this one would have been a challenge for Bad Al Campbell** lui-même in his formidable Excalibur prime. Unfortunately, the best they can come up with is, Jezza is really quite fit. For his age. Ahem. Sadly, as lots of people know all too poignantly, there is many a deep-dementia sufferer who is as fit as a fiddle ... and that's even before we get into "Methinks / protest ..." Just how smart is it to call for a full enquiry? Who knows what else will come up?
People have periodically been calling 'Peak Corbyn' for at least 18 months, but thus far I haven't been convinced. Today, there's a decent case to be made. He seems to have a tight pretorian team that can face down even McDonnell, so they can probably keep him, El Cid-like, stuck on his fence for a good while longer. (People did the same for Gordon Brown, as we frequently noted at the time.) Trouble is, there may no longer be the adoring crowds gazing up at him from either side. No Glastonbury for Corbs this year (according the Grauniad, he'd have been booed if he'd tried). Could be quite a lonely place when the wind gets up. Clambering down again may be painful in itself, and too late anyway. Talk is already of handing the baton to Rebecca Long Bailey.
By the way, I hear McDonnell's health is not of the best ...
**Did he even start the rumour ..?
UPDATE: this, from today's Guardian
Rumours have been flying for months not only about Corbyn’s physical health ... but more broadly about his intellectual capacity; his ability to master an endless series of complex briefs and take timely decisions on difficult issues, while simultaneously managing a sometimes fractious party and dealing with whatever unexpected crisis blows up.AND MORE: (also Graun)
Corbynism’s greatest liability is now Jeremy Corbyn himself ... He sounds tongue-tied and looks like a man hiding from battle, which undermines the image of a candid crusader. When the hero no longer embodies principles on which his movement was founded, the whole edifice wobbles. The attention of young idealists drifts; affection turns conditional; benefit of the doubt is withdrawn. It is getting notably harder, for example, to be loyal to Corbyn and determined to combat antisemitism at the same time ... He once exuded a gentleness that made allegations of fanaticism sound preposterous. Now his peevish side cuts through. He once animated feelings of belonging and purpose in people who had felt starved of inspiration by soulless New Labour. Now he refuses to quench the thirst of his party’s parched remainers ... Few Labour MPs, if any, relish the prospect of an election under their leader, although most pretend to want one. It is hard to present Corbyn as a man for the future, and May’s departure will date him even more. He will be a stale continuity figure from the time of stasis, irradiated through years of loitering ineffectually amid the referendum’s toxic fallout. His aura of specialness has dissipated, revealing the man in all his flawed mediocrity. The prospect of Britain having a radical Labour government is sliding into the gap that has opened up between an idea people once called “Jeremy Corbyn” and the actual Jeremy Corbyn.