Why does Jeremy Corbyn look so relaxed?
His supporters may be knocking on doors, kissing babies, saying hello to people to whom they wouldn’t usually give a second glance, but Jeremy Corbyn at times looks like he’s just been on holiday. At other times like he’s just woken from an afternoon nap. Why, he’s so relaxed that he even forgot those figures on Woman’s Hour.
Could it be that, for this election at least, he sees second best as absolutely fine?
The Brexit negotiations start ten days after polling day. Corbyn must know that he and his party would be totally under-prepared for such a challenge. And what would they have to gain? The difficulty of weighing up the pros and cons of an incredibly complex deal, selling this deal to a sceptical British population, the fury of the Tory press that the deal is inadequate (because it has been worked out by Labour politicians)? All the while perhaps inwardly resentful that this split with Europe was something that was initiated by the party opposite?
Contrast this mayhem with the a relative calm of watching Theresa May as she embarks on the most significant negotiation of her lifetime – barking from the sidelines as she weighs up bad deal or no deal. Every single policy area will have to be redefined in the wake of Brexit. The scope for mistakes and u-turns is monumental.
And to what end? Whatever the actual deal, Theresa May will claim that she has achieved a “good deal”. But what will this mean? It might be OK in some policy areas but in others it will look decidedly ropey. Most commentators agree that Brexit in any form is unlikely to translate into immediate prosperity for the poor working class in the UK – or for the rest of us for that matter. So there will be plenty of meat for an opposition to feed off.
Corbyn didn’t make this election about Brexit, preferring to focus on education and the health service – issues which in the long term will matter more to the ‘ordinary voter’. None of us therefore have much idea how the Labour Party would negotiate. They have neither talked much about the process nor what they would prioritise in the negotiations. And they haven’t needed to – because Theresa May herself has been so guarded, saying little more than no deal is better than a bad deal. This is playing into Corbyn’s hands. It is only after the election when the Tories will have to say what they’re doing that Corbyn will get his teeth out.
So long term, I’d say that things are looking fairly buoyant for the Labour Party. Debate at this election has swung significantly to the left. And Corbyn looks like he’ll avoid negotiating Brexit – the most significant poisoned chalice in my lifetime.
No wonder he looks so relaxed.