Does Corbyn’s astounding win set a precedent for contemporary politics?
“Corbynmania” is at an all-time high. Trade Unions have put their backing behind the veteran MP, whilst many new members of the Labour party have also put their full backing behind him. As a result, Mr Corbyn’s incredible margin of victory surpassed even Tony Blair’s resounding success in 1994, and the man who has been mocked and ridiculed for months has now become a serious player in British politics, like it or not.
It might seem like Jeremy Corbyn has been the Labour leadership frontrunner for an eternity. But those with sound memory will remember a time when it seemed unlikely the Islington North MP would even participate in the contest at all. When he announced his intention to stand as an “anti-austerity candidate” in May, the media virtually ruled out any chance of gaining the support of the 35 Labour MP’s he needed to qualify as a candidate. It was only because around 12 MP’s decided to vote for him in order to have a wide breadth of candidates that he was able to join the leadership race in the first place, and the rest as they say, is history.
Therefore, it has become clear that Jeremy Corbyn’s triumph is not just a rare political occurrence, but part of a continuing trend of support for the more extreme figures of politics that shows no sign of abating. But why are these candidates all of a sudden becoming a popular and credible choice for voters? For me, it’s part of a concerning trend I have noted among voters.His sudden rise in popularity has come as no shock to me though. After all, he is by no means the first radical candidate to garner immense support in a short space of time. It was only four months ago that a Nigel Farage-led Ukip claimed 3.8 million votes in the general election, more than 12 per cent of the total votes, whilst across the Atlantic, Donald Trump’s Republican campaign is also proving to be a statistical success.
Political trust is at an all time low, with politicians ranked alongside journalists as the least trustworthy group of people in the UK. This lack of faith in the established order of politics has been used as a platform for radical candidates to exploit, putting themselves across to audiences in stark contrast to the David Cameron’s of this world. Nigel Farage’s appearances at bars over the course of his general election campaign were certainly no coincidence, more a rather poorly covered up attempt to portray himself as a man of the people.
The final Labour leadership debate summed this up. As an outsider looking in, it became immediately apparent that Mr Corbyn had already won the hearts and minds of audience members well before the debate began. People were not only giving him a rapturous applause on a consistent basis, but seemed to be just waiting for a moment in which they could cheer their man to victory, irrespective of the point he was making. Whilst I think his cause has been helped by three uninspiring candidates, I certainly did not feel that he won the debate, and political experts seemed more impressed by the passion showed by Yvette Cooper, a view I agree with. Yet 80 per cent of people who voted in a Sky News poll still believed the Islington North MP emerged victorious, so the only conclusion I could make was that Jeremy Corbyn had won the debate before it even started.
This isn’t anything new though. What is new, however, is that people are beginning to listen to these candidates. Specifically, voters are listening to these candidates based predominantly on their persona, and no one has summed up my views on this better than Jeremy Corbyn himself. Although I should give him credit as a politician for being able to generate incredible support so quickly, I get the sense that “Corbynmania” is spiralling out of control. My main concern about this is that a precedent could be set, with new or undecided voters jumping on the popularity bandwagon rather than voting for the candidate that is most aligned to their views, and it may only be a matter of time before one of these radicals is voted into Downing Street with many supporters not understanding what they are voting for.
Of course, no one can force someone to change their political opinion and plenty of voters, especially trade union members, genuinely agree with his policies and that’s great. But at the same time, I would be surprised if there isn’t a substantial amount of Corbyn supporters that, with some research, would disagree with many of his points. I just hope my suspicions are wrong, as I feel that the next general election could become a battle of personalities, leaving voters either wholly uninformed, or naive enough to believe that persona alone makes a good Prime Minister. All I can do is call on voters to research who they are voting for themselves before they do so, then at least the victorious candidate wins on policy rather than personality, no matter their election tactics.