The prospect of the Conservatives being returned with a landslide majority of 1997 proportions probably scares any democrat. One reason it is likely is that the pro-Brexit side seem to be pooling their votes more efficiently than the anti-Brexit side across the UK. Another is that left liberals continue to simply to insult their opponents rather than persuade them (many responses to news that the Conservatives were ahead in Wales were along the lines that the Welsh had turned “stupid” – this widespread but arrogant correlation between “being stupid” and “voting Tory” is the very reason so many people reject apparently arrogant left-Liberals rather than allegedly disdainful Tories). Yet it is hard to get away from the fact that one reason for their imminent success (although I suspect the majority will be a little more modest in the end) is the Leader of the Opposition.
The issue is not so much that Mr Corbyn is “well to the left”. Nor is it even that he is a minority in his own party, with only a tiny minority of his own party’s MPs believing him to be truly up to the task. It is that he is simply intellectually well short of where a serious candidate for such high office should be.
Let us just take one answer on BBC Marr last Sunday. Asked about the nuclear deterrent, he ducked the question and merely repeated the left-populist mantra that it would be better to aim for a “nuclear-free world”. We simply do not live in such a world. Even if, in Mr Corbyn’s fantasyland, all global leaders including mad tyrants decided to decommission their weapons (and stop tests towards having them), the fact remains and will always remain that the technological capacity exists to build them at any time. It is reasonable to argue that the UK cannot afford an independent nuclear deterrent, but it is a simple impossibility to deliver a “nuclear-free world” given, quite simply, that nuclear weapons exist.
This issue is repeated over all kinds of issues – appeals to “end inequality” without any serious consideration as to why inequality exists, what it is that permits it, and what could reasonably be done to tackle it; appeals to “nationalise” without any scrutiny of what works well when state-owned and what, the very least, restricts freedom unacceptably when state-owned; reference to “corporatism”, “neo-liberalism” or even “Blairism” as apparent evils without any intellectual or practical definition of them whatsoever.
To do the rationalising without the emotional appeal would be limiting; to do the emotional appeal (or populism, as this often descends to) without rational scrutiny would be borderline dangerous; but to lack both is simply intolerable.