I am not a fan of Jeremy Corbyn. He reminds me too much of the sneering pseudo-leftists I met at university. You know the type, came straight to university from thirteen years of private education, picked up a couple of second-hand books by Lenin and think they understand the plight of the workers because they once helped the nanny with the washing up. I am well aware that this is reverse snobbery but at the same time it is a perfect description of Emily “people vote for Theresa May because they like her hair” Thornberry who is at once the stupidest and most arrogant person in British politics. Quite a feat when Diane Abbott and Tony Blair are still around.
However, credit where credit is due. Corbyn made some excellent points in his speech at the official launch of the Labour campaign. He promised a “reckoning” with the people who are “ripping off workers and consumers” and spoke about a country “for the many, not the few.” He also said “the economy is rigged in favour of the rich and powerful.” He singled out exactly the right targets – tax cheats, greedy bankers, rail directors and crooked financiers. This is terrific stuff and I’m sure that there are a lot of votes here. How do I know? Theresa May has stolen Ed Miliband’s policy to cap electricity prices, a policy her “arrogant posh boy” (copyright, Theresa May) predecessor described as “Marxist.”
An excellent article in the Independent this week pointed out that a lot of the policies advocated by Corbyn (and Miliband) are actually very popular with the electorate. It’s just Corbyn (and Miliband) that isn’t. According to the author, in 2015 63% of voters backed Miliband’s price cap on electricity – no wonder May stole it. The article continues …
“One poll for The Independent found that raising the minimum wage, and the rate of tax to 50p from 45p, had the support of 71 per cent and 62 per cent of respondents respectively.
The party’s pledge to extend free school meals to all primary school children – funded by charging VAT on private schools – also had the support of 53 per cent of the public.”
There are LOTS of votes here that Corbyn can pick up. Unfortunately this is not getting through because so many people are turned off by Labour’s obsession with childish identity politics and with insulting the electorate. When it appears that Labour are more interested in niche concerns like transgender toilets than bread-and-butter issues like the economy, it is no wonder voters stop listening. Too many Labour politicians appear more interested in phony accusations of racism than in understanding ordinary people’s concerns; it is not racist to be worried by GP waiting lists or the lack of primary school places in some areas. It is also a serious turnoff to have the likes of Thornberry sneering that everyone who voted to leave a corrupt, neoliberal organisation that is designed to protect the interest of big business is some kind of thicko.
So Corbyn has done something right but I’m afraid he needs to go further. Ditch race baiters like Abbott; get rid of arrogant Establishment fools like Thornberry who clearly hate anyone who has never eaten at one of the Inns of Court; and tell John McDonnell to stop wittering on about Karl Marx. Accept that the UK is leaving the European Union and that most people understood what they were voting for in June 2016. Stop the alliance with far right Islamists and condemn anti-gay, anti-women and anti-Semitic rhetoric no matter what the colour of the person responsible.
When (and I do mean when) Corbyn leads Labour to defeat on June 8th there will have to be some serious rethinking on the left of British politics. This may mean a new party if Corbyn and his disciples refuse to let go of the levels of power in the Labour Party. Centre-left economic policies can win votes, sneering identity politics is electoral poison.