Former Prime Minister Tony Blair doesn’t believe Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn are electable. Does the electorate say otherwise?
The former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair had something to say about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders:
‘Free tuition fees: well, that’s great, but someone’s going to have to pay for it. An end to war, but there are wars’.
The comparison isn’t unusual or even unexpected. Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders have been likened to one another for good reason. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders most recently took to the international stage when the US Presidential Primaries began last year. The two politicians have been criticized largely on two issues. How will they pay for their proposals? and What about electability?
The Problem of Electability
Both the US and UK establishments currently lean to the right. The US is already much further right than the UK. Can (relatively) far-left candidates win in that political climate?
Jeremy Corbyn has faced attacks from all sides including those from within his own party. From the media describing his cabinet reshuffle as a ‘purge’, to Tories drowning out Mr Corbyn’s EU speech — a frankly chilling sign of the state of British politics. What electability can someone have if we don’t hear them out?
It is no surprise then that Senator Sanders has received similar criticism. The loudest voice has been his political rival Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sanders is a self-described Democratic Socialist. A bold stance given the country’s historical McCarthyist hatred of Communism and Socialism.
Despite establishment voices constantly decrying the electability of both Corbyn and Sanders polls seem to tell a different story.
Mr Corbyn is ahead of David Cameron in the last available satisfaction polls. Corbyn also earned a landslide 62 per cent approval among labour members. That being said, he hasn’t led the party to great heights given that the party’s electability is still sitting around the 30 per cent mark.
Senator Sanders on the other hand has made huge leaps in his battle against the inevitable Clinton. Sanders began the race a whole 32 percentage points behind Clinton. A tide of momentum has carried him to a mere 5 points behind. Several polls have even shown Sanders beating Clinton nationally. It’s a good thing too as Senator Sanders has, in fact, much higher electibility in a general election. In some polls Sanders handily beats every Republican candidate while Clinton loses to all but one. And that’s not taking into account the possibility of yet another scandal destroying Hillary’s race for the White House. That is to say, if Hillary wins the primary there’s a good chance that Trump may become the leader of the free world. Let that sink in.
But who’s going to pay for it all?
Sanders and Corbyn are both in favour of a more nationalized country. From the NHS to re-nationalizing Britain’s transport links, Corbyn wants to invest in the country for the sake of its citizens. Likewise, Sanders is less interested in foreign policy than he is with domestic affairs. Sanders wants what he calls ‘Medicare for All’. Which, in short, is a national health insurance that would save thousands of dollars and even more lives.
Higher education is also on the agenda for both leftist politicians. Both believe education should be free and Mr Corbyn wants to leave student debt behind in favour of grants. Senator Sanders wants to make all public colleges free for anyone who qualifies to attend.
Sounds expensive by anyone’s estimation.
Corbyn has failed to release a detailed plan of how he would deal with tuition fees. It seems to be an issue he has put aside of late. Mr Corbyn no doubt believes that corporations paying their fair share would be a huge boon to public services. Evidently he needs to take a page from Senator Sanders’ book.
The problem with that line of reasoning is that Senator Sanders was the first candidate to release a full and comprehensive tax plan. This doesn’t mean everyone agrees with the tax plan as the burden goes to the top. His plan is very reminiscent of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt and indeed, Noam Chomsky has called Senator Sanders a ‘New Dealer’.
Bernie receives endorsements from individuals who believe in a fairer tax system. Inversely, corporations are chomping at the bit to endorse Secretary Clinton. In fact, even among charities there is a dividing line between who endorses Clinton and who endorses Sanders. When board members decide, Clinton receives the endorsement; when individuals decide, Sanders receives the endorsement.
It can come as no surprise that Mr Blair would oppose Jeremy Corbyn given that he sits a significant way to the political right of Corbyn. The fact that Corbyn believes Blair should be tried for war crimes is no doubt a contributory factor.
In the end, no endorsement or lack thereof from establishment politicians is going to bring down Corbyn or Sanders. Are they electable? The left is surging from Canada to Spain. Will our two nations be swept up in that wave? Let’s see.