Saturday, 5 December 2015

War of the worlds

If there is an anti-establishment sentiment afoot then it isn't voting for Farage. Labour party voters and members clearly know what they want and the Parliamentary Labour Party is out of step with the voters. The PLP is not cooperating because they know Corbyn cannot win. Or at least that is the conventional wisdom. That said, the conventional wisdom also said that Ukip would win seats in the general election and it also failed to predict a Tory majority. It may well be that Corbyn is not as isolated as some believe.

Your guess is as good as mine but my radar is telling me that this week marks a shift in the political tides. The government's honeymoon is over, and while the Twitterati, the media and the SW1 bubble are enamoured by the fluff of the Benn speech, I get the feeling of a different mood emerging among the public. Whatever support there may be for strikes on Syria will rapidly melt away.

The gulf between the public and the SW1 centrism is widening. People do not seem to care that Corbyn isn't an astute politician or even that his politics are largely wrong. I think he is the embodiment of a particular sneer at the establishment rituals, processes and orthodoxies. While I have nothing politically in common with him, I have a lot of sympathy with his distaste for Westminster right now.

In this I think it's worth noting that Corbyn has halted the flow of old Labour to Ukip. It tells us that the discontent is largely with politics rather than any particular issue and Ukip's polling would seem to confirm that immigration is not the central source of the discontent. It would appear that it isn't the EU either.

If I were to hazard a guess it would be to do with the gaping chasm between the reality of SW1 and the public. It's not a new phenomenon but I can't be the only one to have noticed that Westminster is vanishing up its own backside faster than usual.

There is sentiment to be identified which thus far Brexit campaigners have failed to isolate. If it can be isolated and amplified then I think therein lies the key to winning the referendum. The populism of Banks and Farage clearly doesn't cut it and I suspect barking up the left wing tree won't do it either. But there is a certain appetite for change. We have to sell the idea that Brexit is the answer but first we must find out what the question is.

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