As the Corbyn express reaches full steam, fuelled by a growing mountain of union and CLP endorsements and with merry bands of left-wing acolytes swinging from the windows, a similarly unlikely rise to power-proximity is occurring across the Atlantic. I am, of course, talking about ‘The Donald’ - a man with the wealth of a small nation, the hair of a Michael Fabricant superfan, and a political outlook lying somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan. So where then, given their total ideological disparity, lies the similarity between the American right-wing megalomaniac and the bearded Lefty from Islington?
It’s a fair question, and on the surface there wouldn’t appear to be a huge amount in common between the two. Nothing from their backgrounds - a career politician and a billionaire mogul - would suggest any link, and certainly their policies, if ever implemented, would be chalk and cheese. No, the similarity resides in what they represent to advocates and critics alike: the Monty Python option - something completely different.
It’s relatively simple to draw parallels between the respective states of the American Republican and British Labour Parties, despite their contrasting positions on the political spectrum. Both have been out of power for two governments, and have endured drab, uninspiring leadership in that time. They also happen to be the parties who find themselves singled out as ‘loonies’ by the majority of their native press. With that in mind, you can start to see the appeal of the ‘change candidate.’ When your supporters are fed up of the norm, and the electorate has rejected your message twice, why not try something a little different?
This is where Corbyn and Trump come to the fore. To the oft-ignored (in their opinion, anyway) extremities of their parties, they are a breath of fresh air. Speak to any far right Republican or far left Labourite, and you’ll hear some regurgitation of several basic ideas: they finally feel represented; their candidate offers hope; and if they win it will change the political landscape. Jeremy and Donald are rabble-rousers of the highest order, rejecting core party policy, and unafraid to chastise fellow party members or rile up the membership with inflammatory statements, and their members love them for it.
Their underlying passion, and status as outsiders, has endeared them to the corners of their parties who for so long have felt devalued and cast to one side. By eschewing the traditional leash of party politics and speaking candidly and from the heart, they are giving their trampled supporters hope that they too matter and can be heard. Their honesty and refusal to kowtow to the ‘party line’ comes across well on television, and renders their opponents into grey machines, seemingly unable to think for themselves or express any true emotional opinion. That is why both Corbyn and Trump, as bizarre as it may seem, find themselves atop of their party polls, carried on a wave of zealous support from their grassroots membership.
Whilst this ability to engage with voters and inspire passion in what has become a rather dull political world is faintly admirable, there is one fatal problem: in a political sense, Corbyn and Trump are both bat***t crazy. Armed with unfathomably extreme immigration policies (open for Jeremy, next to none for Donald) and fantastical economic stratagems (Trump wishes to re-nativise the US economy, whilst Corbyn’s is more of a traditional socialist delusion), they are quite simply unelectable. Will they make for entertaining opposition to the incumbent governments? Certainly. Are they fit to actually run a country? Not on your nelly.
In the long run, it’s reasonable to assume that they will be beneficial for their parties - re-engagement with long-lost supporters and a freshly galvanised membership can never be a bad thing in politics - but as change candidates they should be examined, heard, and then discarded into the annals of party history.