David Cameron on Corbyn, and how this sort of critique may now backfire

From David Cameron’s official Twitter account this morning:

I think it’s crass and unbefitting of someone who holds the UK’s most major political office, but it shows how the Tories think they can play Corbyn. I am however not altogether sure this will work, or at least not quite as the Tories expect.

Cameron’s tweet was elegantly juxtaposed with with Corbyn’s own views here:

The assumed rules of the British politics game are that one should rise to the critique posed by Cameron, and fight fire with fire.

What happens if Corbyn simply doesn’t? That he goes about politics his own way, that he plays to his strength – that he is seen to be honest and somehow partially above the fray?

This is precisely the way Ken Livingstone succeeded as London Mayor, attracting people who ideologically did not agree with him to vote for him; it’s no surprise that Simon Fletcher, ex-Livingstone aid, helped mastermind Corbyn’s victory.

The prime danger, it seems to me, is that any comment about Corbyn assumes the rules of British politics are either as they were in 1983 (with Foot’s disastrous election), or 1997 (when Blair won with a very disciplined campaign). UK politics is not in the same place now – we do not know how well those parallels hold. We do not know how Corbyn will behave. We do not know how or if he will temper his views. Hell, we don’t even know how to deal with a Labour leader who does actually have views any more – and so everyone, from Cameron to a lowly blogger, has to do a bit of recalibration. Then set that in the context of a Labour Party that’s adding members fast, and Corbyn being the unlikely leader of something that might be larger than he is.

We cannot know where the Corbyn victory is going to lead. No Labour-leaning person ought to write it off straight away. It might be unfashionable in political commentary, but that Corbyn’s victory leaves so many questions unanswered is what makes this fascinating.

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  1. tst

    I’m slightly concerned that your analysis of Cameron (and the EU referendum) might be correct.

    However, your analysis of Corbyn and Cameron is completely wrong. Cameron knows exactly what he’s doing and he’s doing it perfectly. Corbyn supports what can (generously) be called “unorthodox” economics. Equally has found himself some curious foreign policy bedfellows. All Cameron needs to do is (ad nauseum) repeat the lines about “threat to security” tagged with “economic dangers” or “terrorist friends” and evidence it with a backlog of Corbyn quotes and slowly it will seep into people consciousness (and stick).

    Sure the “cool kids of social media” will no doubt bore of this and some will no doubt create *funny* memes about “Cameron hating Britain’s poor” or “Corbyn loves helping people” or whatever but frankly most people will discount it as tiresome lefty nonsense (which is exactly what it will be).

    Indeed the biggest danger faced by Corbyn isn’t to Cameron directly but to centrist politics in the UK. A weak Labour party unable to campaign to stay in the EU combined with an emboldened Tory right could easily lead to BrExit and nasty drift to the right!

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    […]  BBC News | Europe | World Edition New Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asks David Cameron a series of questions emailed to him from members of the public on housing and tax credits at his debut PMQs. David Cameron on Corbyn, and how this sort of critique may now backfire […]