When George Osborne watched Ed Miliband winning Labour leadership in 2010, he shouted “Yes!! Yes!! Yes!!” I imagine he had probably passed out by the end of Jeremy Corbyn’s acceptance speech: it was the stuff of Tory fantasy.
In Miliband’s acceptance speech, he had the wit to play down the role that the trades unions had played in his victory. Corbyn boasted about it, in a rambling speech which thanked them by name: the RMT, the FBU – even the Socialist Education Association and Socialist Health Association. I hadn’t heard of either of the last two until today. I suspect, now, we’ll be hearing a lot more about socialist organisations that we had thought closed down in the 1980s. It’s a brave new world.
And then, the delusion: Labour, he said, is “stronger than we have been for a very long time”. Really? The thing is, he may very well believe this to be true. And he will soon be surrounded by people who believe that to be true.
“We are a party organically linked together; the unions and party membership,” he declared – one of many quotes that David Cameron will be storing up for future use. Then denounced Cameron for trying to “shackle” unions with his coming reform – proof that the unions have finally got an unabashed spokesman in the House of Commons. They have now captured the Labour Party, which matters more to them than having Labour in power.
Corbyn gave a shout out to Ralph Miliband, Ed’s Marxist father, and admonished the press for being rude about him (or, as he put it, “brutally abusing” him). He even congratulated the Welsh Labour Party for killing the Blair health reforms – NHS Wales is a national scandal, yet Corbyn hails it as a model, due to its ideological purity.
When Corbyn thanked the Labour MPs who nominated him “in the spirit of inclusion” the room laughed, as well they might. This is the greatest joke of the campaign: the ‘morons’, as John McTernan’s put it, the MPs who nominated Corbyn because they thought he was too crazy too win and would make the rest seem centrist by comparison. But there is a new rule now: nothing is too crazy for the Labour Party. Not any more.