One more crisis and Jeremy Corbyn could be PM

“Jeremy Corbyn is not going to be Prime Minister”, says Tony Blair. He’s wrong, says Merryn Somerset Webb. Corbyn is just one crisis away from Number 10.


Jeremy Corbyn: one crisis away from Number 10

Tony Blair agrees with us. How unexpected is that? In an article in the Observer this week he points out that the rise of Jeremy Corbyn is about the same thing as the rise of Trump, the SNP, Le Pen and Syriza.

They might look like they are demanding different things but they nonetheless reflect a post financial crisis fury. There is, says Blair, a "politics of parallel reality going on in which reason is an irritation, evidence a distraction, emotional impact is king and the only thing that counts is feeling good about it all."

This is a pretty good summary of what I saw in Yes voters during the Scottish referendum and it sums up the hype around Corbyn nicely too. But Blair then goes on to make a mistake.

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This rebellion against perceived authority isn't really one, he says "it doesn't alter the real reality". Trump won't be president. Scotland voted no. Syriza can only hang on by "switching realities" and "Jeremy Corbyn is not going to be prime minister of the UK."

This is where he is wrong. Scotland voted no, but the SNP is still in power in Scotland and still mucking up the running of Scotland. And Jeremy Corbyn could well become PM of the UK.

How? With a crisis. What, asks Charles Moore in the Telegraph, if the trouble in China is the start of something bigger, or if the Conservatives "fall to quarrelling" over the referendum as the refugee crisis worsens? It wouldn't take much for the "Tory hegemony, currently only three months old" to slip away.

Things aren't good out there, what with the money printing, debt, deflation and effects of an ageing population: "will our moderate and sane government really know what to do when the next jolt to the system comes?" Maybe not.

And then there will be an "electoral market for the immoderate and insane" politics on offer on the other side.

Merryn Somerset Webb

Merryn Somerset Webb started her career in Tokyo at public broadcaster NHK before becoming a Japanese equity broker at what was then Warburgs. She went on to work at SBC and UBS without moving from her desk in Kamiyacho (it was the age of mergers).

After five years in Japan she returned to work in the UK at Paribas. This soon became BNP Paribas. Again, no desk move was required. On leaving the City, Merryn helped The Week magazine with its City pages before becoming the launch editor of MoneyWeek in 2000 and taking on columns first in the Sunday Times and then in 2009 in the Financial Times

Twenty years on, MoneyWeek is the best-selling financial magazine in the UK. Merryn was its Editor in Chief until 2022. She is now a senior columnist at Bloomberg and host of the Merryn Talks Money podcast -  but still writes for Moneyweek monthly. 

Merryn is also is a non executive director of two investment trusts – BlackRock Throgmorton, and the Murray Income Investment Trust.