Jeremy Corbyn on the road

A reporting team from The Guardian has been on the road with Jeremy Corbyn and provides an inside look at him when he is not in the public eye. One gets the impression of a man who is comfortable in his own skin and knows who he is and what he wants, who becomes uncomfortable only when he feels pressured to answer hypothetical questions for which there really are no good answers. Meanwhile Conservative leader Teresa May has come across as phony and somewhat bumbling.

On the road, Corbyn looks happier than at Westminster. Even his opponents acknowledge he is a good campaigner, as he demonstrated in the two leadership contests. And he has got better: he has learned. He is more disciplined than he used to be. When making keynote speeches or at rallies, he is more inclined to stick to a prepared speech, with just an occasional ad-lib. He is more at ease with a teleprompter too.

If he was genuinely anxious, one of his first moves would be, like other politicians, to dive for a smartphone to check in with party headquarters or search for the latest poll figures. Instead, he goes in search of a knife to cut up a chocolate brownie cake, a present from the previous event. He takes his time, distributing it among the small team of aides accompanying him.

It is one of the traits critics in the party have rounded on: that he concentrates on small things, such as ensuring everyone has tea or coffee, rather than keeping all his energy for the big issues, the big decisions. But it is a trait that endears him to others, not least his aides.

If Labour loses, the campaign still had lots of positives. He has enthused the young. Some of those who once believed the tabloid demonisation of him have warmed to him. He has shown the Conservatives to be vulnerable. And he has moved policies once regarded as radical – even socialist – into the mainstream.

Most of the British newspapers (such as the The Times, The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, and The Sun), including of course those owned by Rupert Murdoch, have strongly endorsed the Conservatives, with only The Guardian and The Daily Mirror going for Labour.

Given the large amount of media support for her, it is still likely that Conservatives will win the majority of seats, unfortunately. The latest YouGov seat-by-seat poll analysis gives the Conservatives 308 seats with 42% of the vote, Labour 261 seats with 38% of the vote, and the Scottish National Party 47 seats with 4% of the vote. 326 seats are required for a parliamentary majority.


  1. jrkrideau says

    It is still likely that Conservatives will win the majority of seats, unfortunately.

    Pity indeed but Mano, I think you have been away from parliamentary democracies too long.

    From that YouGov analysis it looks like May will win a plurality of seats, not a majority though the analysis authors specify some broad error ranges.

    As long as May and the Conservatives do not win an absolute majority who forms a government is dependent upon the other smaller parties.

    Depending on who hates whom more we can postulate that Labour ( 261) + Scottish Nationalists (47) + Northern Ireland (18) can call a vote of non-confidence and defeat a May government. Add in the LibDems (10) and you have a nice majority.

    Or remove Northern Ireland (18) and add the LibDems (10) and you still get a plurality but not majority for Labour, etc.

    Even without the SNP overall, if you find 5 dissident MPs among the SNP and the Conservatives, May loses the vote of confidence. This seems unlikely but, still, …

    At the moment the minor parties ( Greens, Plaid Cyrmu, etc.) don’t seem significant but with a badly splintered vote even one seat can make a difference See the latest election results in British Columbia where the three seat Green Party gives the New Democratic Party a one seat majority in a coalition and the ability to defeat the current government in a vote of confidence. Talk about a razor-thin majority!

    Assuming the YouGov analysis is correct we are probably looking at what we here in Canada call a “minority government” and the Brits seem to call a “Hung Parliament” though that name might just be wishful thinking.

  2. jrkrideau says

    The terrorist attack last night in London may have shot holes all through the YouGov analysis.

    May seems to be trying to show herself as the solid defender and this may work to the Cons advantage.

  3. says

    May seems to be trying to show herself as the solid defender and this may work to the Cons advantage.

    And as with Shrub’s second term, people will conveniently forget that these attacks happened under the watch of those who claim to be the best equipped to stop them.

  4. jrkrideau says

    @ 3 Tabby Lavalamp
    Exactly my worry. Still an attack six days before the election may be rather salient. A voter may still be thinking “Why didn’t the May Gov’t prevent this”?

    Bush had time to show some decisive, or do I mean amazingly incompetent, action before going to the polls.

  5. EigenSprocketUK says

    Yesterday I drove hundreds of miles through farming countryside and the fields and the nice houses were awash with blue Tory posters for T.May and the tories. Typical tory heartlands where the landowners always vote right wing and their workers vote to keep their jobs.
    One poster made me laugh out loud: “Take back control -- vote conservative”. As though they hadn’t already been in charge for seven years.

  6. jrkrideau says

    “Take back control – vote conservative”.
    Showing the normal grasp of reality of most Conservatives?

    Or possibly a transplanted delusional US Republican? Umm I suppose the delusional is redundant.

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