Every conversation I hear about Jeremy Corbyn begins with somebody declaring: "Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable" as if this is fact. It is taken as a given by so many writing about it, as if the epoch changing result of last week had never happened. I wager that many of those people saying Corbyn is unelectable were also saying a week ago that Britain would never vote for Brexit.
That the Labour Party are now indulging in an internecine struggle is surely proof – if it were needed – that the political and media elite are out of touch with the rest of the nation. In the EU Referendum many thought they were giving a bloody nose to what they think of as the London elite, the politicians, media and "experts". That they picked the wrong time to do it – Europe was not the cause of the problems we face – is not the only message we should be taking from this debate.
Hilary Benn and his pals may believe that Labour's problem is its leader. But, let's be clear, those MPs have never supported Corbyn (just 36 backed him in the 2010 leadership election). It was Labour's membership and the trade unions that elected Corbyn to be leader. And it will be those members that re-elect him as leader. Those members supported Corbyn because he was offering a new way after years of rightward drift and self-important grandstanding from Westminster. This was a popular vote overturning the Labour elite.
On a wider scale the Brexit result was, at least partially, The Great British Public voicing their dislike and distrust of the whole of the political elite: the career MPs who they feel have ignored them for years; the politicos who only care about who gets which government job and who think that appearing on the Andrew Marr Show gives them a chance to Talk To The People. This is Westminster Bubble nonsense.
Labour members supported Corbyn because he was offering a new way after years of rightward drift and self-important grandstanding from Westminster. This was a popular vote overturning the Labour elite.
Many voters have had enough of charismatic, charming politicians who prefer power over principles; who sound great but say nothing. Corbyn is an old-fashioned leftie with bad suits. And he has principles that he believes in. When Corbyn said he was 7/10 in favour of Europe it was one of the most refreshing and honest parts of an awful election campaign.
Corbyn seems to actually be offering a political alternative to voters. Labour is level with the Tories in the polls. Labour membership has soared. But instead the Parliamentary Labour Party chooses now to launch a coup.
Benn started this by blaming Corbyn for the loss of the EU Referendum. Surely there are far more culpable candidates to choose: David Cameron for organising an unnecessary referendum for ill-considered political reasons; Nigel Farage for pushing for the referendum; Boris Johnson and Michael Gove for the mendacity throughout their campaign; the right-wing media for its biased coverage; and the 52% of the electorate who voted for it.
Some would consider persuading two-thirds of Labour voters to back Remain was actually a good result. And if that wasn't good enough, it should also be remembered that plenty of Labour MPs represent constituencies that voted to Leave. Not Corbyn's constituency though: Islington voted 75% to Remain.
When Corbyn said he was 7/10 in favour of Europe it was one of the most refreshing and honest parts of an awful election campaign
Anyway, the EU Referendum was not fought along old party political lines and there's a strong argument that future elections won't be either.
The political landscape has shifted in many strange ways with the two recent referendums: Ukip and the SNP have tapped into single issue politics and thrived. Radical politics has taken an unexpected grip.
The SNP and Ukip are not moderate middle of the road parties. The SNP came very close to winning a radical vote in Scotland (and will win if there's another Scottish Independence Referendum soon). And Ukip have just won the support of 52% of the British population. And before you say it wasn't just Ukip, they were the only party that actually wanted the referendum in the first place. Cameron completely failed to understand the radicalisation of Britain outside of the Westminster bubble and gave Ukip its chance.
If there is a mainstream, Nigel Farage and Ukip have become part of it by being given the requisite airtime on the BBC and elsewhere. The BNP never got this much free publicity and were therefore understood to be extremists. The middle ground has now been radicalised as much as the old right and left.
As an acquaintance said: "The PLP think they are going to win an election by targeting a shrinking middle ground they already share with the Tories and the Lib Dems. And they think they're going to do it by banging on about Europe."
Cameron completely failed to understand the radicalisation of Britain outside of the Westminster bubble and gave Ukip its chance.
Given how much politics has shifted it is hard to even say where the centre ground is any more. Britain – and the world – have been radicalised: by globalisation, by the internet, by the widening divide between the ultra rich and the rest, by those for and against Islam, and by politics that has failed to deal with any of these issues.
Given these shifts, radical anti-rich politics might be a genuine way forward. The Liberal Democrats surged when they put forward radical policies in 2010 (raise taxes, abandon nuclear weapons). They were wiped out after they abandoned those policies to become Tory stooges.
A Labour party that supports heavily taxing the rich more might just be a thing that "old Labour heartlands" will get behind. So too proper backing of the National Health Service. Everyone says they love the NHS yet successive governments (Labour as well as Tory) have undermined it with cuts and marketisation. Renationalising the railways would find support too, possibly even in Conservative heartlands where the cost of commuting has soared while the services have become progressively poorer.
The electoral kickings given to Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband might already prove that Middle Ground Labour is a thing of the past and that radical policies are needed for radical problems.
172 Labour MPs seem to want to move to the right. Less than a year ago 250,000 Labour members voted for a move in the opposite direction. While Labour members are a self-selecting group, they give an arguably better statistical representation of the general population than 172 MPs.
Here's just one very pertinent example of how much Britain's old political values have been blown apart: the EU Referendum district where local pro-Remain MP Jo Cox was killed, in what was allegedly a politically motivated attack, voted to Leave.
If you are still certain that Corbyn is unelectable after all of this, please let me know which MP it is that you think is the replacement candidate who will shift the nation in Labour's direction. The unconvincing gaggle of New Labourites who stood last time were resoundingly rejected and that was less than a year ago.