Viewpoint: Corbyn and Trump, who’d have thought it?


What on earth is going on, asks Jane Sankarayya. Something odd that’s for sure, when you can start talking about Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump in the same sentence.

Is it just me or is there some weird ass symmetry shaping up between the Republican presidential candidate race and the Labour leadership contest. It’s a bit like looking in one of those fairground mirrors that throws back a completely distorted image of a massive head with eyes in a chin, long body and tiny little legs.

Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump started out as somewhat irrelevant, joke candidates in their respective fields. Corbyn was there because some in the Labour party felt the need to ‘widen the debate’; Trump was there because…well because he has a ton of money and so can be wherever he wants it would seem.

One has carrier bags full of earnest policies that differ markedly from what other politicians think British voters want to hear; the other has virtually none and thinks that American voters aren’t that bothered about policy anyway. Both were initially not considered serious contenders by their fellow candidates and both are somewhat despised by party bigwigs who find their past associations somewhat hard to stomach: Gordon Brown made not so veiled reference to Corbyn’s relationship with Hamas and Republican grandees are apparently slightly concerned by Trump’s previous support for abortion rights and past donations to the Democrats.

But then something odd and distinctly off message began happening. Both men are now far ahead in their respective polling. Lots of people show up to their rallies and appearances – probably way more to Trump’s, but hey Jeremy Corbyn did manage an overspill from Ealing Town Hall the other day. And they both seem to be generating some interest among more people than would normally be the case in these contests.

Maybe both campaigns have been thriving, at least partly, for similar reasons. Both talk about ‘hope’ and apparently offer something apart from the mainstream political position. Both men and their campaigns make much of being different, being outside the Westminster bubble or not one of the political automatons that run year after year for the White House. Although of course they have both in their own ways been wrapped up in the political mainstream for years.

And finally, of course, the press love both Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn. (The papers here all claim to detest Corbyn but clearly they are loving the show that he is providing). Thousands and thousands of words and hours an hours of TV coverage are being devoted daily to these two men, with the other Labour leadership candidates and Republican runners barely getting a look in.

So let’s walk back into that fairground house of mirrors, or maybe gaze into the fortuneteller’s crystal ball…can we see the mists clearing? Is that President Trump picking up the phone in the White House on 8 May 2020 to call Downing Street and congratulate the new Prime Minister with the neat greying beard?

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    1. Gordon McCann says:

      We should not be at all surprised by the rise of politics which seems to provide an easy solution to complex world problems.
      Its been going to happen for some years now. When politics are fractured and governments are elected by a minority of the population, the majority thinks it is being left out, especially when the nations books don’t balance and savings have to be made. A culture that lives on debt in private life, will never understand why government cannot do the same thing. Lessons of the past are generally forgotten after forty years, as the people involved retire or exert less influence and Wiemar is a lot further in the past than that. As the Chinese say “We are living in interesting times” but the answer is in the past if only we care to look. Unfortunately history tends to repeat itself because society seems incapable learning from its mistakes. So fasten your seat belts I think we are in for a very bumpy ride.If not in the next five years them sometime in the near future.

    2. Joyce Korczak Fields says:

      As a true socialist I am disgusted at the shameful, appalling and totally unacceptable way in which each candidate has ridiculed, slandered and spoken about Jeremy Corbyn, who fortunately has never said one word about anyone else. He has done what the other candidates ought to have done – state their policies, plans and hopes to carry the Labour Party forward. Most certainly not making their campaign personal.
      Whether you agree or disagree with what Jeremy Corbyn says he nor any one else deserves the personal annihilation. And the audacity of Andy Burnham to gain the Leadership through the Transfer voting system says he will include Jeremy Corbyn in his shadow cabinet if elected. He only says this in order that Jeremy Corbyn’s voters place him as their second choice so if Jeremy Corbyn does not achieve 51% of the vote he will become Leader.
      Their behaviour tells us what kind of people they really are.

    3. Horatio Tremoine says:

      I doubt if this polarisation has anything to do with purported gaps between wealth and poverty as both candidates are attracting support from polar opposites. I err in favour that this is symptomatic of a broader malaise in the support of mainstream parties which has seen the rise of protest-parties, notably in Europe with Marie le Pen French National Front, Alternativ fur Deutschland, UKIP, Geert Wilders, SNP in Scotland and the Spanish protest movements that are winning regional elections. This is a real shift in political dynamics and the figure head characters are largely unimportant and their ‘policies’ even less so, what is important is the message to the mainstream to get real over the issues that matter, substantial support for these figure-heads will evaporate when the kick has been delivered and political players with real gravity put together a realistic agenda manifesto.

    4. Mike Taylor says:

      I resigned from the Labour Party in 1997 when T Blair revealed his true blue leanings. Jeremy Corbyn’s honesty and compassionate policies almost persuaded me to rejoin, except it would jeopardise my status as an Independent Councillor. The gap between rich and poor needs closing, and it needs that to happen from both sides. The rich in this country have enough without crippling the poor and disadvantaged any further

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