As the British public faces another week of endless Labour coverage in the news, less politically engaged viewers and readers could be forgiven for questioning why. After all, the Conservatives are the ones in power… right? Their point is a fair one. Despite the Labour leadership contest being the tastiest morsel on the political menu du jour, one would still expect more to be made of the Conservatives in the national press - with the EU referendum, budget cut implementation, and the vitriolic opposition to Jeremy Hunt’s actions as Health Secretary, it’s not as if they’re short of stories.
The truth is, it’s partly down to a rather cunning media ploy from the Tories. Witnessing their main opposition on the verge of being ripped asunder, the Conservatives have made the tactical decision to take up as few column inches as possible, minimising press appearances and generally being as bland and un-newsworthy as possible. It is a move that harks back to the school chemistry laboratory: when faced with a volatile, highly combustable substance, depriving it of air keeps it safe and stable. In this case, Labour are large chunks of magnesium; the leadership contest is a naked flame; and the Conservatives are the unruly schoolboys giggling behind a desk, vigorously pumping oxygen at them.
And it’s working. The Labour party are slowly cracking, with rifts between the centre and the left threatening to quake into fissures of disastrous proportions. By forcing Jeremy Corbyn onto the ballot, Labour have gifted the media a personality who talks straight and is adamant about his stance in both ideology and policy - something that cannot be said for the likes of Burnham and Cooper. Labour MPs have been swift to defend both Corbyn and the decision to manipulate the ballot to include him. The phrase ‘Labour is a broad church’ has been used more than once: so was the Catholic Church, until the similarly bearded Henry the Eighth came along.
By giving the far Left a voice, and allowing them to capitalise on a disgruntled snowballing of anti-austerity sentiment in the party, Labour have ruined their chances of a swift post-election makeover. This was meant to be a time when they could analyse their defeat, regroup, and unify in opposition. As it is, they are at risk of a full blow civil war, with every day bringing news of rumoured coups and political skulduggery. All the Conservatives have had to do is stoke the fire, be it in close quarters through Cameron giving Corbyn advice on how to win, or by lobbing grenades from afar about not taking the election defeat inquest seriously.
Labour seem to be lost within their own party boundaries, and it’s trickling down to the electorate. Three out of four people now believe them to be less electable than they were in May - a predictable repercussion of growing party turmoil and the laughable mismanagement of the leadership race. Over the last few weeks there have been hordes of Corbynites discussing how their man would ‘change the political narrative.’ Well, the Conservatives have given Labour centre stage with that narrative, and they are fluffing their lines.