Labour’s ahead in the polls and perhaps more significantly there’s a pattern to them – Johnson’s unpopularity. But how much will that help Labour?
There’s certainly merit in the old adage that it’s governments that lose elections. The corollary though is that oppositions have to look credible. In that Labour seems to be failing.
Starmer’s strategy seems to be that of simply being the other guy and indeed twice over. Firstly, setting himself out as not being Corbyn and for sure the last Labour leader took a beating in 2019 but he had galvanised his party which showed when he came close to winning in 2017. Whatever you think of Corbyn he doesn’t deserve the contempt with which he’s being treated by a party he’s served diligently for years.
Corbyn’s victimisation by Starmer and his acolytes, may please the Tory press but it’s alienating many Labour activists. Foot soldiers are important in politics as the breath of fresh air engendered by Corbyn to Labour showed. Many rallied to the cause yet are now leaving in their droves. Moreover, for the first time in my political life many who’d be described as Left Labour loyalists are now leaving. They aren’t prepared to stomach it anymore and no longer see Labour as their only political home. Starmer will pay a heavy price for that.
Secondly, Corbyn seems to be modelling himself on President Biden who managed to defeat Trump, by not being The Donald, rather than what his own Democratic platform was. For sure that worked but only just so and the Biden Presidency already has the look of an administration that’s serving out its time and will demit office with little to show for it.
But the real danger in simply being the other guy, is what if the Tories simply get rid of Boris? Tory Grandees and Red Wall MPs won’t hesitate to remove him if he’s the threat to their power. Focussing on Johnson and failing to have a platform of your own’s inadequate. You’ve got to show what you’re for – not just who you’re not.