If there’s one thing that the election has highlighted, it’s just how fickle the British public is. This time last year, much of the electorate decided it wanted what has been referred to as a ‘hard’ Brexit. Theresa May, a staunch remainer, offered this. Job done, or so she thought. But instead, now everyone’s confused, even UKIP supporters! They’re too besotted with Jeremy Corbyn.
Why could this be? Many have asked, particularly as Corbyn’s globalist values seem at odds with the protectionist sentiment expressed by vast swathes of Leave voters, the UKIP contingent especially. Could it be that they’ve had a change of heart in regard to ideology? Or that humans are superficial creatures, prepared to trade previously held views for new personalities? Methinks it is a case of the latter, and Jeremy Corbyn simply took Nigel Farage’s previous role as Mr Popular.
Some will throw their Momentum leaflet in outrage when I compare Corbyn to UKIP’s former leader, but the crossover is really quite stark. The fact is, when Farage decided not to stand in this election, he not only put his vision of Brexit at risk, but left a huge opening for someone with a similar personal style to enrapture voters. This was not filled by May, the robot, or any other Conservatives – nor Liberal Democrats, but Corbyn himself.
He and Farage are far closer than either would dare to acknowledge. What has been obvious over the last year or so is that a specific type of individual is now extremely popular with the electorate. No longer do people want politicians who are nuanced or measured, and that is why May and Hillary Clinton have not been a real success. They are actually enamoured with ‘anti-establishment’ figures, which is basically another way of saying a ‘bloke’.
This underpins how Farage, Donald Trump and, yes, Jeremy Corbyn all made big strides politically. Each has a great ability to convey themselves as “system-breakers” to their target demographic: the working class. Farage and Corbyn both seem to think they are leading this segment of society into a revolution against collectives they deem economically ‘threatening’. For Farage, it was immigrants; for Corbyn, it is the rich.
And both men have been able to promote their ideologies because they have this likeability factor, from their ability to communicate in layman’s terms to the fact they can laugh at themselves. They do everything that they can to radiate being ‘men of the people’; neither has a university degree, incidentally, but – for them – that’s rather an asset.
What we are learning, troublingly, is that politicians can get very far, indeed, if they can win the popularity contest, and right now it is the ‘bloke’ that cuts it. That Farage and Corbyn have made it so far does say a lot about how desperate people are in this country for a quick-fix route to economic issues; they are falling for cavemen who make loud noises. Unfortunately what this means for the other parties is that, far from trying to outsmart Corbyn, they are going to have to play to his level. It is no longer enough to play the intellectual game; leaders must divert, instead, to a rather basic one.