Trump and Corbyn are two sides of the same coin

Despite their glaring ideological differences, both political movements are more similar than first meets the eye.

They are both branches of the political party that led their nation into the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the party that was at the helm during the Global Financial Crisis.

But they are also movements that seek to punish their party for veering to the centre and forgetting its loyal base, fuelling an anger at an establishment that is increasingly out of touch.

As much as Trump and Corbyn were discounted at the beginning of their candidacies, they struck this nerve and represented an insurgence against a political elite that had spurned the little guy for too long.

For Trump supporters it means fighting for blue-collar jobs that are shrinking and disappearing overseas, constantly threatened by immigration and free trade.

For Corbyn supporters it means fighting for social welfare and government spending, under threat from the interests of big business and the upper class.

Such is this commitment to the cause that neither camp seems concerned with winning, but would rather make a point that their voices cannot be ignored any longer while blaming the media for the country’s lag in jumping on board.

Importantly, this passion is why both Trump and Corbyn have proved to be unflushable.

Despite the numerous denouncements from their own party, both candidates possessed the most crucial factor of all; the votes of grassroots party members, who were never going to be swayed by the party elites anyway.

This is most remarkable for Corbyn, who has survived two leadership campaigns to Trump’s one, and was strategically placed in a two-horse race the second time around, which the Republicans failed to achieve in a timely manner during the primaries.

Yet despite their triumphs over the party establishment, they have largely failed to win over the wider electorate.

But while Trump’s fate is now sealed in the hands of the voters, is there anything that Corbyn can learn from Trump?

First and foremost is the certainty that Corbyn cannot win a general election if it becomes a referendum on his capacity to be Prime Minister.

While Democrats felt most comfortable when the campaign was a question of whether Clinton or Trump is best suited to lead, Trump performed best when he refrained from rambling on about himself, and instead hit the key issues of trade, economy, immigration and national security where he is far stronger than his counterpart.

It is no surprise that the polls have tightened in the last two weeks, when the news cycle has focused on Clinton and her emails, and Trump has kept to a script for once and stayed away from Twitter.

But although Corbyn doesn’t have the sordid past that Trump has, nor the capacity to harass the family of a fallen Muslim soldier, his approval ratings compared to his competitor are just as dreadful.

Labour would therefore be well advised to focus on the issues rather than the candidate.

Their conference was a prime opportunity to do so, yet most of their rhetoric focused on telling the public that the party was strong and united when it was obvious to spectators that the house is burning to the ground.

Yet you can’t blame Labour MPs for that when their party hasn’t developed coherent policies to sell except rubbishing whatever the Conservatives offer, which is a leaf from Trump’s book already.

But while Donald can criticise NAFTA, immigration, Syria, you name it, Labour will struggle to pedal anti-austerity measures to a country that has resoundingly been sold on the false notion of living within its means.

Labour will also fail to win votes by opposing the government’s immigration policies when it relies on dodging the question entirely while labelling dissenters as racist.

Say what you will about Trump, but his policies have far more support than Corbyn’s do. 

Fortunately for the Republicans, however, even if Trump loses the nightmare will at least be over on November 9. They will be favourites to win the White House in 2020 with the prospect of 16 straight years of Democrat rule to spook the electorate.

For Labour, however, 2020 is already seeming like a foregone conclusion if Corbyn remains at the helm. The pain has only just begun.

Perhaps all that Labour can learn from the Republicans is how to recover from loss.

For Republicans it would be about finding a shiny candidate untarnished by this electoral cycle, and bringing Trump supporters into the fold without veering too far from the median voter.

Labour should already be planning to follow suit, mastering the difficult dance of conceding to Corbynites without alienating itself from the electorate more than it already has.

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