As the first Labour leadership votes are cast, should Tories celebrate Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity?

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Laura Swire, director of Hanover Communications, says Yes

If we can agree that the point of politics is to gain power and effect change, then we can agree that the Conservatives should be celebrating Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity. He would be a noisy Opposition leader, but never Prime Minister. Under Corbyn, Labour will be arguing for higher taxes for businesses and families, the renationalisation of railways and energy markets, and a simplistically anti-American foreign policy. These views aren’t popular with many Labour voters, let alone the wider public. Some argue that giving these arguments oxygen will drag the country further to the left and leave the Tories exposed. But, as the chancellor says, in Opposition you merely move to the centre – it is in government that you can define where that centre is. The Conservative attack machine will make mincemeat of Corbyn, pigeonhole him as a ridiculous extremist and leave Labour floundering for relevance. Perhaps the Labour MPs who nominated him mistook the party for a debating society.

Dr Madsen Pirie, founder and president of the Adam Smith Institute, says No

Some Conservatives want Jeremy Corbyn to win because they think he will prompt lasting divisions within Labour, and make the party unelectable in a general election. They should not celebrate too soon. Even if this is true, there is a short-term price to be paid. If Corbyn became official Leader of the Opposition, it would legitimise economic and political fantasy. Every day the media would have to treat his proposals as serious politics. The discussions would centre on things we already know are unworkable. We have seen how nationalisation ruins industries by making them serve political, not economic, objectives. We have seen how high taxes squeeze out growth, and how they drive out our talent and deter outside talent from locating here. We have seen how unfunded largesse targeted at selected groups creates a black hole of debt. A Corbyn-led Labour would make this a legitimate matter of public debate. It should not be, because it remains the same nonsense it was before.

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