It is now finally sinking in that he is the very anti-monarchist, vegetarian, non-drinking, public transport taking, non-car-owning Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition with his own limousine and driver. His deputy has been elected as Tom Watson MP, the ‘not-quite-as-lefty-bit-still-radical political blogger’. Welcome to the revival of the Tom & Jerry Show.
Tom & Jerry ran on our TVs for 17 years between 1940-57, with numerous spin offs that continued to provide heart-warming entertainment throughout many childhoods. However, for our new Tom & Jerry cast the odds look strongly against any equal success, but it might not come to an early, abrupt end as many believe.
For the many Labour MPs opposed to Corbyn, the immediate future looks bleak. There is no formal mechanism to hold a confidence vote in the leader, though an unofficial vote could be held. They would have to wait a year to challenge Corbyn for the leadership, which would require a candidate to be nominated by 20% of Labour MPs.
That is feasible but under the current selection rules there is no guarantee that the result of the voting among Party members would be any different. Moreover, there is no certainty that Corbyn will simply fail and lose support quickly. Corbyn is riding the crest of a social movement – with a powerful backing of unions and new members – which, historically, only die out after prolonged failure. His voters actually believe in something and he is their man. He will have the added luxury of being able to brush off a few sexist or internationally inflammatory gaffes; something poor old Ed never had.
In the meantime, Corbyn will need to argue his case to voters for left-wing policies that they have hitherto shunned. The government will politicise issues on which Corbyn is on the wrong side of public opinion. Corbyn supports unilateral nuclear disarmament – voters do not. The government wants to find £12 billion in welfare cuts, including reducing the benefit cap. Voters support welfare reform, but Corbyn strongly opposes it. Voters accept the necessity for cuts to reduce the budget deficit, but Corbyn and his union backers made opposition to austerity a central plank of their campaign. And while a majority supports renationalising the railways, the issue is not deciding many votes.
The Conservatives will believe that with Corbyn’s victory, all their Christmases have come at once. There is no doubt that at times we will laugh (and cry if you are New Labour), be flabbergasted, confused, and perhaps even inspired to rally down Whitehall. If nothing else, the next few years will test to destruction the theory that it is possible to win an election from the real left. The Tom & Jerry Show will run and run.