The year 2017 is the very recent past but in terms of British politics, 2017 is a foreign country – they did things differently there. In that year, a “Conservative” party under the leadership of Theresa May fought a general election against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. At the time, Corbyn felt like a breath of fresh air even among many people (such as myself) who did not agree with all of his domestic policies but who nevertheless respected his long record as both a foreign policy non-interventionist and as a lifelong Eurosceptic who vowed to implement the result of the Brexit referendum should he be asked to form a government.
Although Corbyn did (along with the Conservative front bench) advocate for “remain” during the 2016 vote, because Brexit won, many assumed that he would quickly revert to form as in 2017, he stood on the cusp of forming a government that would have had a popular mandate to realise one of his lifelong dreams – withdrawing the UK from the European Union.
By contrast, Theresa May governed not as a traditional conservative but as a big government, big surveillance, socially liberal to the point of obscenity, pro-war leader who was both uninspiring and who appeared to be entirely dishonest and devoid of any principle. As such, Jeremy Corbyn’s apparent honesty seemed to at least offer something more genuine than the horrific government of Theresa May.
Since then, a great deal has changed. Jeremy Corbyn has shown himself not to be a man who leads his party but one who is at the mercy of the most lunatic elements within his party. As such, his previous reticence to involve himself with ultra-liberal identity politics has given way to a headlong dive into the mad world of identitarianism. Likewise, his failure to clearly articulate his anti-war position led to accusations of antisemitism which he was not rhetorically gifted enough to shake. This alone should have raised a red flag about the kind of lacklustre leader that Corbyn is.
But whilst Theresa May was a lifelong supporter of the EU project, Corbyn was a lifelong opponent of the same. Consequently, it appeared appropriate to give Corbyn the benefit of the doubt seeing as Brexit was and remains the defining issue of this generation of UK politics.
Now however, Corbyn is not just leading a party that shows open contempt for those who voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum, but he is calling for wide-scale protests throughout major cities as a means of intimidating those who support the Government’s position to leave the EU on the 31st of October.
Making matters all the more distasteful, Corbyn has associated himself with those calling for the illegal blockades of roads and bridges. It appears as though the old anti-war campaigner now lusts for a riot and all in the name of the Angela Merkel dominated EU that he spent most of his life criticising in the most unambiguous terms.
Although Corbyn ostensibly is still anti-war, in terms of domestic politics, he has declared war on the democratic opinion of a majority of his potential constituents. This surely is the last straw not only because it reveals utter hypocrisy on his part and a total lack of believable leadership, but it also demonstrates a nasty streak that is willing to champion incredibly divisive and possibly violent politics over a spirit of unity in the name of Brexit that could surely give way to a return to traditional left/right divisions in a post-Brexit era.
There is little doubt that Boris Johnson’s rejuvenated Conservative party is on the road to a major victory in what is likely to be a forthcoming general election. Unlike the joyless, humourless May, Boris Johnson can not only think on his feet but he can amuse people whilst doing so. Like May, he is no social conservative, but he seems to be governed by a compelling Churchillian gambling streak that is nevertheless tamed by a sense of Disraelian pragmatism.
Johnson may yet betray Brexit as Nigel Farage has warned multiple times over the last several weeks, but when compared with Jeremy Corbyn, it is no longer a contest. Johnson has yet to put a foot wrong whilst Jeremy Corbyn has not only lost his footing but has fallen into a very grim political abyss.
Whilst Corbyn’s cult like fan club have become so ridiculous that they would seemingly forgive him even if he spat in their faces, the rest of the country has long moved on. Jeremy Corbyn is no longer the breath of fresh air next to the stale aroma of Theresa May. He is now the sour, grim, anti-democratic grey haired street rioter next to Boris Johnson’s imperfect but comforting joie de vivre.