Wednesday, 16 September 2015

"The country will never stand for that"

The sum total of my opinion on whether Labour can win an election with Jeremy Corbyn as leader is that we don't know enough to make a reliable prediction. Moving on to something that doesn't quite constitute a settled opinion, here are two things I read in quick succession yesterday:

Item The First - The Daily Mash, Man who just got elected 'definitely unelectable'

Item The Second - Paul Addison, The Road to 1945: British politics and the Second World War (Pimlico edition, 1994)

From pp.14-15 of the Introduction:
"The [1945] election gave Labour its first independent majority in the House of Commons and its largest of the post-war era to date - 146 overall. The result came as a profound shock to most of the political world which, having divined public opinion by the old techniques of impressionism and wishful-thinking, was convinced that Churchill's charisma would carry the day. Hence the well-known story of the lady at Claridge's who was heard to exclaim: 'But this is terrible. They have elected a Labour government and the country will never stand for that.'* If one main theme of the home front is the evolution of a new consensus at the top, the other must be the movement of popular opinion below."
The only thing that elections tell us for sure is how people voted in that election. The only thing that press coverage tells us for sure is how the press are covering things. Beyond that, people need to show how they have arrived at their predictions and must be prepared to consider new information and different lines of reasoning. Anything else is just white noise.

* Addison's reference for this anecdote: J.L.Hodson, Home Front (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1947), I.