If Jeremy Corbyn wants to do some lasting good, he should take a leaf out of Donald Trump’s book

by Samuel Dale

Labour Uncut editor Atul Hatwal recently wrote an excellent blog about how Trump has shifted the Overton window of US politics with his plan to ban Muslims from entering the US.

First came the condemnation.

But now politicians such as Ted Cruz and influential commentators such as Piers Morgan and Rupert Murdoch are already triangulating.

“Yes, Trump has probably gone too far but Obama needs to do more on Muslims. A lot more,” so their argument goes. They triangulate. The sweet spot of political discourse (unless you are Nick Clegg).

The debate is then reframed and policy is made in a different political context, which over time translates into a different nation. That’s what outriders like Trump do.

There are lessons for the UK.

There were outriders in the last parliament. The SNP did it with Scottish independence, Ukip did it with an EU exit and Ed Miliband did it with his focus on inequality.

The SNP have got devo-max, Ukip have a Eurosceptic government & EU renegotiation while Ed Miliband has George Osborne stealing many of his ideas.

Let’s be clear: they are all losers. But they moved debate and that is a form of success.

Jeremy Corbyn is a loser too. He will never be prime minister. He will never come close to be prime minister.

But he can go down in UK history – like the SNP, Ukip and Ed Miliband – as a loser who shifted the debate.

He should take a leaf out of the Trump playbook and pick a position way outside the mainstream that will shock the nation and jolt politicians into occupying the space he leaves behind.

He must be specific. And I have a suggestion for him: be the anti-Trump. Cobryn could and should issue the following statement:

“I, Jeremy Corbyn am today calling for a massive increase in refugees coming to the UK.”

“As prime minister, I would process hundreds of thousands more asylum applications.”

“During the leadership contest, Yvette Cooper called for every town in Britain to provide refuge for 10 families fleeing crises meaning 10,000 could arrive. That was wrong.”

“Angela Merkel has already welcomed 1,000,000 to Germany. We can do at least the same. Every town in Britain should take 1,000 families so we can house 1,000,000 refugees. It could even be more.”

“There is a clear moral imperative to rescue as many desperate individuals fleeing the butchery of Isis and the terror of some areas in Africa.”

“We are a wealthy country and I will present a detailed plan to cope with the extra numbers.”

“It was a Conservative prime minister in Edward Heath who housed 60,000 Ugandan Asian refugees in 1972 feeling Idi Amin’s savagery. Those individuals have contributed enormously to our country.”

“Clearly we must have a tough visa process and verification system in place to stop extremists from slipping through the net. And we will.”

“And let me make a wider point: immigrants enrich us all, whether refugees or not. They contribute millions in extra taxes and boost our culture and country immeasurably. From the Bank of England governor to football stars, plumbers, restaurateurs and others, we should welcome their immense contribution.”

“An incredible 37% of London’s population are now born outside the UK and it is the greatest patch of humanity in the history of the planet. A financial powerhouse, a cultural tour de force and entertainment that is the envy of the world.”

“We should welcome more refugees and we will when I’m prime minister. Let’s Make Britain Great Again.”

This speech, or something similar, would completely reshape the debate on refugees – and even immigration generally – and split the nation right down the middle.

The anti-immigrant brigade would go berserk and Corbyn would be roundly condemned as reckless. But it opens up the space for others.

“Yes, Corbyn has gone too far but Cameron needs to more on refugees. A lot more,” they would say. They could triangulate.

Sure, it is potentially electoral poison but so what? There is literally nothing to lose. Corbyn’s poll ratings are shocking, his policy platform is non-existent and the party is in disarray.

Instead of keeping up his Don Quixote-style quest for Downing Street, he could re-frame the toxic debate on immigration and refugees with a bolt from the blue.

The refugee crisis is one of the most important political debates of our generation. Corbyn could actually – for once – put some meat on the bones of his platitudes to lead an anti-racist, decent, kinder, gentler politics.

Trump is a racist but his shocking actions have political lessons. The world needs outriders.

Sam Dale is a financial and political journalist

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8 Responses to “If Jeremy Corbyn wants to do some lasting good, he should take a leaf out of Donald Trump’s book”

  1. John Vinall says:

    I’ve been saying this for the last 3 months (and I’m a left-wing Tory / right-wing Liberal).

    Corbyn’s candidacy will not lead to a Corbyn prime ministership. The politics are too divisive and too easy to exploit, he doesn’t have the experience to navigate the waters of politics and he will not be able to make it through a general election campaign without multiple gaffes which will play right into the Tory hands.

    What he needs to do is move the Overton window. Not just towards refugees but towards other traditionally Labour positions. It’s not an election strategy (it will guarantee a Tory government) but as you’ve identified the Tories are definitely winning 2020 anyway… The worst thing Corbyn could do is keep pushing lite-versions of his politics, then what will happen is the Tories will keep pushing rightwards in order to counter them. This will guarantee an Osborne or May premiership in 2020.

    Labour can only win the next election with a centre-left candidate, someone on the right wing of the Labour party. Why? Because the “acceptable” policies are all to the right of the Labour party (again – look at the Overton window for the UK). At present Corbyn cannot win the election – but he could push things so that a left-wing candidate could win in the future.

    It’s not often in politics that’s what’s best for the party and best for the country coincide so serendipitously – but in this case it does fit together nicely.

  2. Rallan says:

    “he can go down in UK history – like the SNP, Ukip and Ed Miliband – as a loser who shifted the debate… Jeremy Corbyn is a loser too.”


    The SNP have swept all other parties out of Scotland, heightened Scottish Nationalism to a very aggressive all-time high and are just waiting for the polls to tell them they’ll win before calling for another referendum. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, it might be the EU referendum or NATO, or it might just be another Tory majority government. Whatever, as soon as they’re sure they can win they’ll go for it. There is no way you can call the SNP losers.

    UKIP was just a fringe party 5 years ago, but they’ve risen incredibly fast and for the last 2 years they’ve been the 3rd highest polling party in the country. Despite a disappointing general election they still the 3rd largest number of votes (1 vote in 8 overall, 1 in 7 in England). They were able to pressure Cameron into giving the EU referendum against his will, and UKIP will be a major part of the Leave campaign. All of the issues represented by UKIP are dominating debate and growing in urgency. It is far, far to early to write UKIP off as losers.

    Jeremy Corbyn has pulled off coup. He clearly represents what the Labour Party as a whole wants to be, even if the party elite don’t agree. He commands the support and confidence of the original membership, the new mass influx of members and the Unions who pay the bills. Despite warnings to the contrary Labour won handsomely in Oldham, casting doubt on his “unelectability”. It is far, far to early to write Corbyn off as a loser.

    Ed Miliband is a loser and he didn’t shift the debate.

  3. Madasafish says:

    he could re-frame the toxic debate on immigration and refugees with a bolt from the blue.

    Oh the irony and lack of understanding.

    Apart from a metropolitan elite, few in the UK accept the idea of unlimited immigration . Corbyn does – so what he says on the subject is viewed through that prism… and ignored.

    After all, in his next breath he will decry UK house prices and lament the lack of house building in the UK.. Ironic when immigration adds to the problem.

    This article rather neatly encapsulates the isolation and – out -of this -world approach of many journalists on the subject.. especially those based in London. Mr Dale is based in London..

  4. Mr Akira Origami says:

    Corbyn ap Islington has already tugged the Overton window sharply to the left. The people of Wales DEMAND that if they get elected in 2020, Labour will open and nationalise the mines in South Wales.

    The socialist party cannot renege on their promises that easily!

  5. Sure Sam Dale. That’s what Corbyn needs to do, take advice from an ultra like you. Go back to your triangulation or maybe join Atul crying wolf. The sooner SDP Mk.II comes the better.

  6. TB says:

    Would someone PLEASE expel the author of this tripe from the Labour Party. Thanks!

  7. Tony says:

    He has already done it with his statement that he would not use nuclear weapons even in retaliation. A few years ago, Cameron admitted that Labour’s support for Trident replacement made it easier to replace it.

    So I think Corbyn is helping to shift the ‘centre ground’ leftwards. That is a good thing.

    Can Labour win the next election? Probably not. However, I would not rule it out. Certainly, the other three leadership candidates would not have done any better.
    How can you defeat the Conservatives by agreeing with them?

  8. Richard says:

    Of all the Overton Windows why that one? I think you are right, Corbyn will need a radical agenda, something that differentiates Labour from the, rest but not yet and pick one that appeals.
    Look at our society and its myriad of needs and then pick any number of them that will have popular appeal. The media will froth at the mouth but just as in the politics of the tax credits the Tories will be forced left.

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