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Imagine then such a person suddenly and magically transformed into the Labour leader, faced with the need to rally the Labour vote in an election from an apparently hopeless starting point. The masterstroke — the decision to hold big meetings in safe Labour seats — happened quite by accident. The idea was at least to hang on to these bastions amidst a Tory landslide. In fact what it allowed was a series of TV images of Corbyn greeted by large, enthusiastic crowds, mixing genially with lots of ordinary people who sometimes chanted his name and always applauded him to the echo. For Corbyn it must have been an apotheosis. All his life he had spoken of the masses and wanted to be with them: now it had all come to pass. And not with guerrillas in Palestine, Hugo Chávez in Venezuela or crowds of other bearded vegetarians on Easter marches, but with hordes of ordinary folk in England’s green and pleasant land.

This experience not only confirmed Corbyn, McDonnell and Milne in their belief that they had been right all along but, buoyed by the rapidly-improving polls, encouraged a sense of wild euphoria — hence such extraordinary phenomena as McDonnell’s call for a million-strong march on London in order to “force” another election which, it is assumed, Labour would win. This is pure Chavismo.

For Corbyn personally the experience hugely increased his self-confidence. Everything was coming right and, Pied Piper-like, he was leading his movement to triumph. This too helped him for he was so evidently cheerful and at ease, a man happy in his own skin, that this could not but impress interviewers and TV audiences — especially contrasted with Theresa May’s rigidly-controlled performances, in which she would keep a tight smile on her face even when being bludgeoned by harsh questioners. But here too, the effect was euphoria — hence, for example, Corbyn’s “revolutionary” demand to requisition nearby luxury flats in Kensington to house refugees from the appalling Grenfell Tower fire.

Corbyn may as well enjoy his moment of triumph, but the realities of his situation will soon press in on him again. As will be seen, the party needs to make a very cool and hard-headed appraisal both of its own past and its current situation. It then needs to remodel itself to win a majority in England, taking lessons from Blair where necessary. This may seem a tall order — and it is certainly beyond the likes of Corbyn, McDonnell and Milne. But the price of failure, despite the election result, will be to leave the political initiative securely in the hands of the Right.
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