I had decided to keep my counsel during the election campaign and not criticise Corbyn and work, out there on the streets, for a Labour victory in what has become a marginal seat we need to hold on to, but recently an important event has exposed Corbyn’s failings at a basic level.
The leak of May’s conversation with Juncker over the EU. This was a golden opportunity for Labour to very substantially undermine her credibility and in particular her slogan, “Strong and Stable.”
By not doing this the Labour leadership has demonstrated a couple of failings that are terminal. They carried on as normal. Corbyn and his minders clearly have a mapped-out programme for this election and they are going to stick with it come what may. The botched and bungled launch of the 10,000 extra police promise took attention away from Theresa May squirming and failed to capitalise on the leak. Corbyn should have cancelled everything else and got all his shadow cabinet to attack the “strength and stability” of May. They needed to prolong the issue in the public’s consciousness to ensure it cut through. They failed to do this and May can breathe a sigh of relief, she is off the hook.
However, by not doing this the Labour leadership has also revealed how it totally misunderstands how to do politics. May’s “strong and stable” slogan may be as meaningless as “Brexit means Brexit” but it will get through to the voters because it is repeated, it is short and catchy and it appeals to their fears as well as their sense of national pride. This is how you do politics, you keep repeating an easy-to-remember slogan until everyone has got it, you need to do this so that the message cuts through everything else. Can you remember anything Corbyn has said over the last week? Neither can I, and I am one of those people who is interested in politics and who cares about politics. But I bet everyone in the country, from the paid political pundit to the most disinterested person on the street has heard of “strong and stable”. If a message is not repeated and repeated until everyone hears it, it is not a message. For all the good it has done Corbyn might as well have spent the week writing articles in an obscure Student Union paper.
What Corbyn’s failure to react to this tells us is that he, and his team, simply do not understand the importance of message phrasing, message discipline, and message repetition. The moment the Juncker-May conversation was made public he should have had his entire team focussing on that, and have spoken about nothing else until Thursday or Friday this week; a half decent attack slogan like “Strongly incompetent” or “letting the country down.” Or just “incompetent” repeated often enough would have got through.
Their failure to react and undermine May’s key message demonstrates not merely a level of incompetent amateurishness in Corbyn’s team, and a profound failure to take advantage of a political gift that could have changed the course of this election. It also demonstrates vividly how Corbyn simply does not understand the basics of political campaigning, the very core of his professional skills. This is not rocket science this is basic, introductory-level practice; it is something that works and gives you a means of communicating with majority of the public who otherwise do not hear.
I’m not a politician, although unlike Corbyn I have helped build a social movement without, en route, destroying a political party and presenting the Tories with a massive level of uncontested power helping them on their way to achieving their goal of establishing a one-party state. Watching this election is like watching a group of kindergarten kids trying to play football against Bayern Munich. If Labour loses this election the fault will not be the PLP, MSM, TB or even the EU, it will be JC’s and JC’s alone.