UK Politics

Corbyn on buses shows Tories badly need to change leader and direction

BY Iain Martin | tweet iainmartin1   /  31 January 2019

Meanwhile, away from Brexit, there’s a real story brewing. Jeremy Corbyn went in search of the number 21 bus from Lenton to Kirk Hallam, and it didn’t show up. He released one of his little videos in which he complains and promises a Labour government will sort it out.  Cue some allegedly sophisticated London laughter. This is not what a potential Prime Minister should be spending his time on. Making short videos about buses that don’t turn up? He’ll have a government car if he’s ever Prime Minister, and why don’t the locals in Lenton just order an Uber to take them to the great little Peruvian fusion pop-up restaurant on the other side of town? (There isn’t one.)

Anyone of a non-Corbynite disposition tempted to scoff at the bus video should resist the thought and reflect on what is really going on here.

The message delivered by Corbyn on buses is folksy but potent. Private operators are profiteering, he says, on single routes, and failing to provide from those who need it most on less profitable and rural routes. A Labour government will introduce proper “city-wide” and rural bus services, he claims.

You can watch the whole thing here. I recommend it.

At the end the smug, sanctimonious tone is annoying, isn’t it? But he – or his skilled team, with their ability to create just the right blend of faked authentic amateurism and high quality graphics and messaging – understand that there is a strong likelihood that the next general election will be fought on this and other issues related to the state of the public realm.

Corbyn on the buses is a reminder for the Brexit-mired Tories that they are storing up the most almighty kicking from the British electorate at some point.

On rough-sleeping, driven in part by the “spice” drugs epidemic with associated violence against addicts in our city centres, the Tories have been warned for several years.

The numbers on violent crime, and the complaints from the police that they are over-run, should be setting off air raid warning sirens in CCHQ.

The Tory party’s approach to social media has improved somewhat, of late. But you can’t sell decent employment figures alone, and expect a leadership and intellectual vacuum coupled with zero capacity for problem-solving to be forgiven by the electorate when next year the Conservatives will have been in power for a decade. As I said, the Tories have a kicking coming, without a change of direction.

Some senior Conservatives comfort themselves by looking at the opinion polls. The polls, in this fluid situation, are all but worthless. Brexit and fatigue distorts everything. Soon, the attention will shift to other matters.

To respond, the Tories need a rapid change of leader as soon as they get some form of Brexit over the line.

Corbyn’s slogan at the end of that video is “Rebuilding Britain.” If the Tories have any sense, they will steal or reinvent the terminology and under a new leader set about urgently improving the condition of the public realm.


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