For a long time now, I have considered myself a Blairite of the old era; I think Tony Blair made some very good decisions and I am a great admirer of his. I feel I should preference this article by saying that, despite my support for Blair, everything changed in 2008. Where fear rules (like during recession) the Conservatives will thrive. Blairism was, to put it quite simply, a “one era pony”.
The article which I am going critique, which makes several harsh remarks about Jeremy Corbyn was written by Carol Malone on page 25 of the Sunday Mirror (released on 26/07/2015). The article was entitled “A lurch to the left will never be right” and under Carol Malone’s name at the top of the page, we were informed that her column was “telling it like it is.”
So, I thought I would write an article to remind her how it actually is.
I divided the article into the three columns, and divided the last two again, so that the article can be easily criticised.
[She opened the article by speaking for all Labour voters and saying that they “don’t want a rabid left wing dinosaur who if he wins will consign the party to the political wilderness”. She then proceeds to blame the “35 idiot MPs” who nominated Corbyn and says that “THEY decided there should be a left winger on the ballot paper”.
She then says that the other candidates simply couldn’t stand up to Corbyn, who she calls a “firebrand.” Then she propmptly blames Corbyn, saying that the party is “imploding courtesy of a man who divorced his wife mainly because she wanted her son to go to a grammar school” and reminds us that Corbyn went to a “top grammar school” and pointed out Corbyn was willing to sacrifice anything on the “altar of his principles.”]
To start with, the term “rabid left wing dinosaur” is no more than a meaningless insult to a very serious politician. Jeremy Corbyn has not shouted or done anything that would lead him to deserve the adjective “rabid” being applied to his gentle nature.
This “political wilderness” is an anti-austerity alternative that has been wanted for years now. The SNP offered it, and they took Scotland by a sweeping majority. Now Jeremy Corbyn uses it and he gains a 60% majority in pre-election polls. Like him or not, his politics cannot be called a route to “political wilderness.”
The way which Malone refers to the 35 MPs (who actually took the time to consider who supporters wanted to be on the panel) occurs to me as being somewhat dismissive. Trying to broaden public debate does not make someone an “idiot”, in my view, but believe what you will.
The sentence “THEY decided” also seems to suggest that these MPs were not perfectly entitled to put forward whomever they choose for leadership. If Malone is against MPs having too much of a say in who is put forward as candidates (they require backing from 15% of Labour MPs), she should have taken it up when Labour’s 2014 review changes were made following the Collin’s report. However, given current polls, Jeremy Corbyn seems to have strong grassroots support- these “idiot MPs” appear to have been respecting the wishes of the grassroots supporters.
As to the accusation that Corbyn is dividing the party, the nature of politics is division. The nature of political debate is division. The Grammar school incident happened in May 1999 and Corbyn says he actually gets along rather well with his ex-wife.
If you want to support a more right wing candidate, that’s fine. The Sunday Mirror published two articles in support of other candidates, but Malone suggests that she doesn’t think much of any of them. That’s all fine. But don’t turn around and tell people who support a different MP that they are “imploding the party.” It takes two to tango, I believe the expression goes.
He wanted his son to go to the local comprehensive, his wife wanted their son to go to the grammar school. The fact Jeremy went to a top grammar school really is irrelevant; he did not choose to go to that school. I also faintly suspect that, even if he hadn’t gone to a top grammar school, the line would be “why is this man denying his son an opportunity that he never had?” It doesn’t really add anything to the argument to state that someone who is pro- state education was forced to go to a grammar school when he was a child.
It’s also nice, in my opinion, to see an MP who remembers what “public servant” actually means. He put his money where his mouth is. He wasn’t “sacrificing” his child’s education. He was trying to improve the existing system, in keeping with his beliefs. It is comparable to a plumber’s son moving into a house that has a broken pipe system, with some poor housemates; the plumber wants to help all of them by fixing the pipe work. Jeremy Corbyn wanted to help all the children by fixing the schools. This idea was not a sacrifice, but a display of dedication to children’s education.
Column 2 (i)
[She puts Corbyn in a category of “far left activists who are arrogant enough to believe they’re right and everyone else is misguided” and that Corbyn would put forward “what HE wanted for Britain whether it was good for us or not.” She then says that the party lost in May 2015 because “it had no economic credibility” and Corbyn’s economic plan is “let’s not pay off the debt, let’s not make cuts anywhere and let’s give pay rises to everyone.”]
First of all I would have to question whether someone who claims to be “telling it like it is” can really accuse Jeremy Corbyn of hubris in any way. And once again, I have to say that this is simply the nature of politics. Politics is making a stance, and persuading people why you are right and they are wrong. The majority of the electorate only know what they are told by the media and strong politicians. He is not arrogant for doing his job.
In fact, if you are going to say that simply putting forward his views is arrogant, you are going to undermine democracy. To take any view in politics is to claim that people are misguided- that is rather the point. It is just as true of David Cameron, Chuka Umunna, Nigel Farage, Nick Clegg, Tony Blair, Natalie Bennett, or any other politician you care to name. Jeremy Corbyn cannot be called arrogant for putting forward an opinion.
The same is true of him putting forward “what HE thinks is best”. He is not a dictator; he’s a politician who is perfectly entitled to do what he thinks is best. We vote him in if we think he has the right judgement. It also seems to be a slight contradiction to say that he is arrogant and does whatever he pleases, but also to say he’s a “firebrand” politician who puts his principles above personal gain. I don’t think you can have it both ways. The record seems to say good things about Jeremy Corbyn, if I’m honest.
I think it would be true to say that Labour had no economic credibility during the election, but I don’t think being “too left wing” had anything to do with that. I think it is more that Tory-lite policies don’t impress the electorate very much- why would they cut through the bone at a slow pace when they could take it off much quicker by voting conservative? (Corbyn is the antiseptic and his plans are the antibiotics, if you hadn’t worked it out)
It is worth taking the time to read Jeremy Corbyn’s outline of his economic plan (entitled “The economy in 2020”). I took the time to read it, and it simply isn’t true that he is saying that we shouldn’t pay off the debt. You will find that far from lacking in economic credibility, Corbyn advocates a system of growth and wealth creation which is based on the work of many economists (such as Richard Murphy who is named in the plan). His messages are logical alternatives that do not entail more debt; you cut the welfare budget by stopping people being dependent on welfare to subsidize their income, for example. Policies that fix the economy, without hurting too many working people.
The plan also makes it clear that cuts to vital services would not be necessary if taxes were collected properly (there is very strong evidence to support this) but it is flat out not true to insinuate that Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out making any cuts. He never ruled out making some cuts, but he doesn’t want to harm the most essential services. This seems to me to be the sensible position to take.
Column 2 (ii)
[Then she suggests Corbyn is a hypocrite for saying he feels Greece’s pain but his “economic policies would put us right where the Greeks are now” (I assumed she didn’t mean in the south of the Mediterranean sea) and that “He also seems to like terrorists” and is “unapologetic about his sympathies with Hezbollah, Hamas and Sinn Fein”]
Anyone who knows Greece’s history knows that these problems existed long before the Syriza government, and will go on for many years after if the Syriza government don’t stand strong. The Syriza government’s plans to tackle tax avoidance and evasion (in 2012 Greece was ranked as the most corrupt country in the EU (in terms of tax) by Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index) might have saved Greece from falling into it’s current crisis.
Even so, the comparison between the Greek economy and our own is complete rubbish; our economy is totally different. For a start, we don’t use the Euro, which gives us control over our own bonds. It is a completely different system, with completely different rules. It only takes a few seconds of research to confirm this.
To suggest that Corbyn has terrorist sympathies is an utter falsification; Corbyn has never shown to “like terrorists.” What actually happened was that he invited Hezbollah, Hamas, and Sinn Fein for peace talks. Peace talks. In Ireland, peace talks have greatly improved the situation. Another person he supported (when few people did) was Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement. This, I notice, was not mentioned.
I disagree with Mr. Corbyn a lot when it comes to the Middle East, but opening peace talks does not suggest any sympathy. Jeremy Corbyn does not condone violence or war; he’s always made that clear. He does not “sympathize” with terrorists. Neville Chamberlain opened peace talks with Nazi Germany in 1938; are you going to tell me that Neville Chamberlain was a Nazi Supporter? I don’t think so.
Column 3 (i)
[She goes on to tell us that “Tony Blair was right” when he said we “shouldn’t treat the electorate like idiots” and should be a “proper party of opposition.” (Suggesting Corbyn doesn’t represent this) Malone then said that “people aren’t interested in the far left any more” and that people want “security, stability and jobs”]
I would argue that putting forward a political view that contradicts the Tory view (it’s not even a majority view- they only got 30% of the vote) is not “treating the electorate like idiots.” I can’t see why anyone would believe it is. It seems even more insulting, in my opinion, to suggest that the electorate will not change their mind or adapt on any issues, even in the face of new evidence. New evidence, or an alternative view.
Being in opposition means doing the opposite of the Tories when it goes against your principles. For example, when Jeremy Corbyn and only 37 other Labour MPs did the right thing and opposed the recent welfare reforms. That is being a good opposition, not a bad one.
People aren’t interested in the far left anymore? Well, the rise of the SNP in Scotland and Jeremy Corbyn’s 60% majority in pre-leadership election polls would suggest otherwise. In fact, what it suggests is that the left are desperate for a strong leader to unite them against the Tories. Particularly the young are attracted to Corbyn, because he promises them a vision of hope; read my article entitled “Live while we’re young” and you’ll get some idea of the situation that faces us young people.
Quite apart from that, neither Corbyn nor the SNP can be called “far left.” He is a socialist who believes in the good of working together; better distribution of wealth and taxation is not a ‘rabid’ far left idea.
The emphasis of socialist ideas is stability, security, and jobs. It’s simply a case of persuading the electorate of that. The one thing that is guaranteed to take away stability, security, and jobs is austerity and austerity-lite. How much stability was created by the “two child” welfare policy? How much security? How many jobs? It greatly reduced security and stability.
Column 3 (ii)
[After that, she tells us that people “want politicians who understand what they need” and “never has the party been more disengaged with the people who voted for it” and finally said that electing Corbyn would be a “betrayal of everyone who ever voted for and trusted in it (the Labour party)”]
Everyone needs something different. And there isn’t a person alive who can understand what everyone in the country needs. Therefore, we have to generalize; on the whole, I’d say an emphasis on things like growth, a strong NHS, secure public services, education, and a decent pension are good focal points.
And Jeremy Corbyn is working hard to further each of those things. Putting his principles first. It’s just my opinion, but I think we have been deprived of principled politicians for far too long. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband even had the same haircut. I don’t want these factory politicians that are trimmed and groomed by the media.
David Cameron, Nigel Farage, Liz Kendall, Chuka Umunna, Natalie Bennett or Nicola Sturgeon will all make the same claim. To “understand”. Corbyn’s claim to understand is no better or worse than any of theirs, but there may be a slight edge; Corbyn claims (or claimed, at one point) the least expenses of any MP. It seems that he puts his money where his mouth is.
I think it is ill-advised to speak of such a large group of people collectively and say that something would “betray them.” It seems to me to be a little bit of a generalizing conclusion, for Malone to tell us what would and wouldn’t be a betrayal of the Labour party. I think that is entirely up to it’s members to decide.
The left wing has been divided for too long, but a man like Jeremy Corbyn could unite the left to be a strong and persuasive match for the right. This is not an insane idea. Politics is division, but here is a leader who could be a uniting force. But first people must stop slandering him as a “rabid” extremist.
People keep referring to him as an extremist, but anyone who has reviewed his policies will see that he is simply not extreme. When did it become extreme to oppose bombing, fight for education and look after public services? Investment and growth are not extremist or “hard left” policies.
But I do take heart in one way; they called Margaret Thatcher an extremist when she wanted to become leader of the conservative party.
They called Bevan an extremist.
They called Clement Atlee an extremist.
They called Nelson Mandela an extremist.
They called Abraham Lincoln an extremist.
They called David Lloyd George an extremist.
Now they are calling Jeremy Corbyn an extremist.
It will be interesting to see what becomes of him.