The Labour Party's establishment seems to be combining to defeat the only leadership candidate with (modest) vision, Jeremy Corbyn.
Two days ago Polly Toynbee wrote* that she had dreams well beyond those espoused by Corbyn, but no one who stood on those policies could possibly get elected. Yesterday the decent Alan Johnson wrote that voting for Corbyn would be madness, and urged support for Yvette Cooper.
I can see their point: they are terrified that if the Labour Party is led by someone whom the Tories and their client press can depict as being from the "loony left" then Labour will be unelectable.
Relatively recent history shows this need not be so.
When in 1975 the right wing extremist Margaret Thatcher ousted the relatively moderate Edward Heath from the Tory leadership many on the centre-right probably felt that the Tories had made themselves unelectable. Then look what happened. Mrs Thatcher’s policies clearly struck a chord with the electorate.
In 2000 "Red Ken" Livingstone was so far to the left that Labour refused to endorse him as their candidate for Mayor of London. So he stood as an Independent and won anyway.
And in 2015 the Scottish Nationalist came from almost nowhere and reduced the other parties' representation in their country to a mere one each.
So massive shifts in support can happen and I suspect Jeremy Corbyn’s personality, record, and policies are capable of causing a similar shift now.
I believe many of us are tired of sound-bite-spouting politicians all espousing the neoliberal consensus that reducing the government's internal deficit is top priority, that the banks, who caused the economic crisis, continue unscathed and underegulated, that the rich need to be further rewarded and the poor punished, and that key sectors of the public realm should be handed over to the profit-maximising private sector.
Not that Corbyn's policies are all that extremist, save in the eyes of that neoliberal consensus. Taking the railways and utilities back into public ownership, retaining the NHS as a non-profit making service, asking the better off to contribute more to the costs of society, etc. are actually popular and supported by a majority, according to YouGov.
Sadly, unlike Mrs Thatcher in the 70s and 80s, Corbyn will not have the support of the majority of the press: indeed quite the opposite – they will go out of their way to vilify him. Nevertheless, if this relatively honest and decent man, untainted by the triangulations of New Labour and who speaks from conviction rather than in carefully-tailored sound-bites, is given the chance to face the disingenuous and duplicitous Cameron and Osborne, I have the feeling his decency will shine through.
The three other contenders for the leadership are doubtless worthy but all are offering Tory-lite and not one of them seems to have the personality to set the electorate on fire with enthusiasm. Corbyn is different. If he is non-tribal and keen to work with other parties of the left (and I don't know the answer to that) he could be the game-changer we need.
Labour's establishment should stop being lily-livered and "go for it."
* This article, entitled "Free to dream, I’d be left of Corbyn . . . " appeared in the print edition of the Guardian on the 4th August, but seems to have been dropped from their website.