So, Dr Pangloss is pressed into service once again for the Oldham West and Royton by-election, where a contest between two unpalatable parties saw my own pressed into a bad fourth place. But it's not as bad as it looks! Here's why.
1. UKIP's flush remains busted. The collapse of Britain's most authentically nasty party continues. Rather wonderfully, they decided to blame their defeat on poll fraud and on a scarcely-disguised implication that it was those unwelcome Asians voting against them in droves. A good rule of politics, I think, is that when you are defeated, a mixture of sour grapes with racial slurs is not going to broaden your appeal. I look forward to watching their continued evaporation with enjoyment, and hope the unpleasant sludge left over at the end doesn't smell too bad.
2. None of this means that the Corbyn leadership of Labour is a success. It is not, simply in competence terms: regardless of ideology, there is no indication that the current leadership is up to the formidable challenge of running a major political party. BUT it might just put paid to the unspoken (and sometimes spoken) assumption amongst what used to be the Labour mainstream that the whole thing is just a nightmare that they will soon wake up from: that if they can simply find a way of defenestrating Corbyn then it will all go back to normal, or that the party membership will pretty soon realise what a ghastly mistake it has made and will humbly do what the PLP advises.
What is still yet to appear (at least to my eyes) is any sign in the Labour establishment of a real willingness to harness and work with the energy and anger that created the wave that flung Mr Corbyn up the beach. It doesn't need to mean 1970s Islington socialism. What it does need to mean is a serious and credible attempt to change Britain's political culture, a culture which was embodied in the hapless Messrs. Burnham, Cooper and Kendall and which could not have been rejected louder or clearer by the wider party. My hope is that somewhere on the Labour benches lurks someone who combines some genuine moral standing or at least apparent personal integrity; pragmatic realism and creativity about policy which is capable of pinching good ideas from other parties; an ability to challenge some of the many doctrines which the British political consensus says are unquestionable but which majorities of voters say they oppose; and an ability to make the consensus appear crazy, rather than themselves.
If anyone knows of such a person, perhaps give them a nudge?