IF some amid their ranks are not quite sure that Tim Farron can stir a revival for the Liberal Democrats and make sure their latest lowest ebb is actually that, the lowest ebb, it seems most are at least convinced that Jeremy Corbyn might. After one disaster election after another since 2010, the likely leadership contest victory for Corbyn on Saturday is seen as an opportunity. That’s why in some meetings and conference speeches in Brighton, Labour was not referred to as Labour, but simply as Momentum, as if a complete Corbynite takeover had already taken place.
Although struggling to catch the media’s eye – a shortened conference and lack of MPs doesn’t help – the obvious strategy is to cast Corbyn and co as hard left dreamers, the Tories as heartless right wingers, and to try to take the centre ground from where electoral gains have secured from in the past.
It’s easier said than done when you’re no longer on the main radar, but the second hope of a comeback lies in the party’s out and out bid to establish itself as the only party truly convinced by the virtues of EU membership, especially while the story runs that Corbyn doesn’t seem too fussed if we take a speedier route to Brexit or not. And this is where, after a zillion letters to the local press, former councillor Paul Braithwaite drops out. He confirmed this week that while he is still a ‘liberal’, he had not renewed his membership of the party having voted to Britain to Leave in June. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him locally, though, only last week the man who wore a t-shirt proudly bearing the word ‘irritant’ on the day he was elected to the council, as you do, was up at the House of Lords in opposition to HS2.