Book review of ‘The Candidate’ and interview with author Alex Nunns about it and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the labour party.
One of the themes Nunns explores in his book is the big misconception that people want more centreground politics. And this was where the last Labour leader stumbled. If Ed Miliband supposedly represented the left, the electorate certainly didn’t think so. The British Election Study conducted a survey and asked people to place parties on where they thought they sat on the left-right spectrum. The results showed that people perceived the Tories as more right of centre than they perceived Labour to be left. This blew the theory out of the water that the electorate wanted someone on centre-ground. And as a country, we voted for a party that was almost as right-wing as UKIP, in people’s minds.
Although Miliband’s problem was more a problem of ambiguity, Nunns says you can’t write him off. He did represent a huge break to the left, re-traditionalised Labour and allowed more debate with the help of the trade unions. At least in the context of 2010. But while some labelled him ‘soft left’, others associated him with ‘blue Labour’. Miliband became more tactical and accepted austerity. And this happened at the same time as the Labour membership was doing the exact opposite – moving to the left.