You wanted it, you got it

The remarkable emergence of Jeremy Corbyn from the relative obscurity of Labour’s backbenches has taken most political commentators by surprise – and indeed Corbyn himself. In hindsight, however, it seems to make perfect sense, especially once the implications of Ed Miliband’s changes to the leadership selectorate became clear, that the debate on Labour’s direction would be driven overwhelmingly by complaints about the Conservative government’s devastating austerity agenda, underpinned by fear about what the next five years might mean for the welfare state and public services.

In this context, the austerity-lite agenda offered by the ‘mainstream’ leadership candidates Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper – let alone Liz Kendall’s enthusiastic embrace of Osbornomics – was never going to cut the mustard. Nevertheless, the party elite could have prevented Corbyn even getting on the ballot had the so-called ‘morons’ been a little more careful with their nominations. That so many centrist and ‘soft left’ MPs nominated Corbyn despite not supporting his candidacy, based on the mistaken belief that he could not possibly become leader, is clear evidence of just how disconnected the Labour elite has become from the labour movement and its centre-left supporters.

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Image: Garry Knight

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