René Magritte’s The Human Condition series shows paintings propped on easels, obscuring their subject landscapes such that the two are interchangeable. “This is how we see the world. We see it outside ourselves, and at the same time we only have a representation of it in ourselves.” This applies not only to how we perceive the natural world, but also to how we perceive the political world.
Our political views are shaped by personal experiences, the experiences of those we know, and, yes, what we see and hear in the media. At present, Labour speaks only to people who already share our viewpoint. For people who don’t see any positives in higher taxation and spending, who don’t support unilateral disarmament, who don’t see Jeremy Corbyn as a potential prime minister, we are giving them no good reasons to change their mind.
This isn’t, for the most part, a problem with the policy platform. After the Brexit vote, previous assumptions no longer hold. People up and down the country want to see change. Yet few are even aware of Labour’s current policies, because we are not communicating with anyone but already-ardent Labour supporters.
Unless we go back to first principles, and start making our case in a way that chimes with voters’ principles, they will remain unconvinced.
The messianic fervour of Labour’s new grassroots members will put off more people than it will inspire, unless channeled in the right way. Less abuse (of any and all Tory voters, of less-than-hard-left MPs, the list goes on), and more measured debate would be a good start. Corbyn is not to blame for abusive supporters, but he is to blame for talking only to people who already agree with him, rather than those he needs to convince.