Bernard Ingham: Everything to play for as Corbyn changes the game

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THIS is neither the time for Tory rejoicing nor Labour panic. Nor is it the occasion for the public to assume either that Labour is now unelectable or that the Tories are in office for another 10 years.

We simply don’t know the mettle of the new Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn – only that for the last 31 years he has never been afraid to exhibit his delusions.

That suggests that the Leftie leopard is not going to change his spotted vest now. But this takes no account of the pressures exerted on leaders in office. He has seriously split his party philosophically from top to bottom. Something will have to give.

We do not know the extent of his public support; only that Labour’s activist membership, swollen by the cheap-jack £3 signing on fee introduced by Ed Miliband – a gift to Trotskyite “entryism” – has chosen an extreme path and put itself ever more in the hands of neandearthal, power-starved unions.

We should certainly not take Corbyn’s standing ovations in the intellectual deserts of north London as evidence of widespread support.

In fact, we have no more idea of the strength of the hard Left in the UK than we have of the ideological security of its natural allies, the Scottish National Party. Will its 56 MPs (out of 59 seats in Scotland) continue to subscribe to the nonsense that passes for SNP policy when it inevitably starts to wreck their economy?

In short, there is everything to play for in a game in which the Tories have the advantages of office and rationality, if not always in their consistency and wettish tendency to play to the gallery.

Much may well depend on the outcome of the referendum on our membership of the European Union on which both parties are split but with the Tories more likely to become fratricidal if we vote to stay in.

For the present, industry, commerce and the City – indeed anyone employing anyone – are looking for clues as to how Corbyn & Co propose to develop their tax, spend, subsidy, employment and re-nationalisation policies.

This is not to mention the Corbynomic plan to balance the nation’s books – now £70bn in the red – by spending £93bn a year and debauching the currency by more “quantitative easing”. i.e. printing money.

The IMF must be making a note to prepare to bail out Britain in the early 2020s if Corbyn and the Scots are allowed by the Tories to get away with their vacuous idealism.

It will also be interesting to discover whether Corbyn is of a mind to open our borders to all comers in what the Left would hail as compassion (at the citizen’s expense).

As for the White House and Nato HQ, they must be going spare since both Corbyn (and the SNP) want rid of nuclear weapons and Corbyn finds it congenial to hobnob with terrorists. He will not strike them as someone they can do business with, though Vladimir Putin may think his boat has come in.

Yet my message to all who would flee the country with their brass and job-creating investments and to the British people who in extremis might have to bear the burden of Corbyn’s socialism is to calm down.

Corbyn and Co are not a short step from power. They scarcely have a foot on the greasy pole and will not easily get a foothold when the Tories have consistently since the Second World War had to clean up economically after Labour.

Yes, there is a new threat in the apparent rise of the Left, the unions and economic illiteracy. It is no comfort that Labour’s candidate for the London mayoralty, Sadiq Khan, nominated Corbyn without intending to vote for him. Does London want to be represented by what Commies describe as a “useful idiot”?

But for the moment we await 
answers to four questions: Does 
Corbyn’s 59 per cent majority represent a shift to the Left or a juvenile prank? Is Corbyn made of Thatcherite metal or Ted Heath flexibility? Just how much nonsense will the moderate Labour majority take?

Will the party that is notoriously sentimental about its leaders, however useless, eventually – and at last – bring itself to sack one?

How will the Tories perform in this dangerous and violent world? After all the excitement, our future is 
still in the hands primarily of David Cameron, George Osborne, Theresa 
May, Philip Hammond and Michael Fallon. They must not fail the people and their liberty – or the Labour Party.