@SeumasMilne could @jeremycorbyn win?

While standard British Labour Party populist policies resonate with the electorate, all the policies that Jeremy Corbyn brings as a socialist, peacenik and renegade Liberal are deeply unpopular and will be used against him as wedge issues by the Tories.

The popularity of individual policies in the Labour Party manifesto didn’t do them any good at the 2015 general election.

What matters to the voters at the last British general election was that brand Labour was down on the nose. It was not a credible alternative government.

Jeremy Corbyn makes that gap into a chasm because of the vast difference between what his supporters on the left of the Labour Party want and what the voters who must be persuaded to switch their vote for Labour to win in 2020 want as government policies.

Jeremy Corbyn is much further to the left than Ed Miliband, who lost the election in 2015 rather badly because he was too far to the left for the taste of the British electorate.

Ed Miliband was rejected in the 2015 British election because he was not a fiscal conservative nor a credible economic manager. The anti-austerity message loses votes.

There is a yawning chasm between the reasons why the left of the Labour Party thinks their party lost the 2015 British general election and why Labour voters thought they lost the election.

The anti-austerity message was one of the reasons why Labour lost in the eyes of its own voters and would-be voters in the centre of politics

The deep unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn cannot be understated as a barrier to British Labour winning the next election.

That deep unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn sacrifices the one winning advantage that British Labour has under Jeremy Corbyn. That advantage is governments tend to lose elections rather than oppositions win them.

Schumpeter disputed the widely held view that democracy was a process by which the electorate identified the common good, and a particular party was then elected by the voters because it was the most suited to carrying out this agreed common good:

  • The people’s ignorance and superficiality meant that they were manipulated by politicians who set the agenda.
  • Although periodic votes legitimise governments and keep them accountable, their policy programmes are very much seen as their own and not that of the people, and the participatory role for individuals is limited.

Schumpeter’s theory of democratic participation is voters have the ability to replace political leaders through periodic elections.

Citizens do have sufficient knowledge and sophistication to vote out leaders who are performing poorly or contrary to their wishes. The power of the electorate to turn elected officials out of office at the next election gives elected officials an incentive to adopt policies that do not outrage public opinion and administer the policies with some minimum honesty and competence.

Power rotates in the Schumpeterian sense. Governments were voted out when they disappointed voters with the replacement not necessarily having very different policies.

The challenge for British Labour is Corbyn cannot win unless he projects minimal competence and stops having policies on defence, foreign affairs and terrorism that outrage public opinion.

Jeremy Corbyn has plenty of outrageous opinions and is yet to show even the most basic competence in running the office of opposition leader, working 24/7 as opposition leader, and showing some ability to win support from members of the Parliamentary Labour Party. If Jeremy Corbyn cannot win votes of his own MPs, what chance do he have with the British people whose interests he claims to champion.

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