We have to make Jeremy Corbyn electable. For many decades, public opinion towards politicians is that they are “liars, cheats and only in it for themselves.” In recent decades, one could add that “spin” and rhetoric has undermined any semblance of trust in institutions, companies, NGOs and politics.
It is a paradox, therefore, that a man who is “squeaky clean,” honest and principled, with considerable integrity, is deemed to be “unelectable.” Another criticism is “weak leadership.” This is hardly surprising when many Labour MPs (right wing, New Labour [Blairite] young, career politicians) have been deliberately (and often publicly) undermining him and the “New Agenda” since his election as leader.
In their defence, it is hard for them to adapt, having grown up in the Westminster bubble, whose philosophy and “conventional wisdom” is the market, growth and globalisation. If Labour loses badly, as the current polls predict, it will be catastrophic for the public sector e.g. education, NHS, local government services). The ferocious enemies of Corbyn (and the membership) will be responsible, in part. If they lose their seats, it will be poetic justice.
After his election at the Brighton conference, I said to Jeremy: “Do what the great philosopher Norman Stanley Fletcher (Porridge) advocates: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down!” He smiled and said that he wouldn’t.
I knew that he would have tough times ahead. Contrary to being weak, he has considerable strength of character withstanding the personal attacks, abuse and sneering by the Tories and even members of his own party, never, seemingly, rising to the bait and losing his temper. In many ways, his qualities would bode well on an international stage, commanding respect with diplomatic skills, in contrast to the confrontational style of Theresa May.
Honesty, integrity, principled, “squeaky clean” (scandal free), not in it for himself (least amount of expenses than all 650 MPs), strength of character. Apart from bike riding, does he have any countryside/environmental/Nature credentials? (Many young career politicians [especially in the Westminster bubble] do not seem to value the countryside and have little empathy with what older members of society value.
Instead of attacking Theresa May personally, identify the incompetent people she appointed, that surround her: e.g. Hunt, Grayling, Rudd, Hammond, Truss, Greening, who have implemented disastrous policies that have led to crises in education, NHS, prisons, courts, etc.
Vic’s primary theme is that Labour needs policies that will capture the imagination of the “Grey Vote” and meet their aspirations. It is a fact that most voters are mature people, whereas the young are unlikely to vote in any significant numbers. Thus, the Grey Vote could be a considerable factor in “The Marginals,” as these determine which party governs. The writer thinks that the evidence at rallies is that younger voters are far more supportive of JC on the whole.
Read Vic’s article in full here: https://watershed2015.wordpress.com/articles-addresses-worth-reading/to-win-labour-needs-the-grey-vote/
Vic Parks “Champion of the Grey Vote?”! (2017) MOB: 07890126836 firstname.lastname@example.org
Joshua Chaffin, a European Union correspondent for the FT, who writes about trade, environment and energy policy, reports on the official launch of the Corbyn campaign in an auditorium on the outskirts of Manchester. The following are positive extracts from his article.
He met Stan Webster, a retired teacher from Wigan, who left Labour while it was led by Tony Blair; Stan recalled the sensation when he and his wife first listened to Jeremy Corbyn, the socialist leader of the Labour party. “For the first time in my adult life, we were beginning to hear policies that resonated with our daily lives.”
Mr Webster disdained “the window-dressing of infrastructure spending” and said industrial communities did not want mere support schemes. “You want independence. You want the right to work.”
“Brilliant!” Jan Smith, a woman with an anti-fracking pin in her lapel, said afterwards. “This is the core of our values,” her friend Lin Partridge, a retired National Health Service worker, enthused. “This is the proper Labour party!”
For many such supporters, Mr Corbyn feels like the first real alternative they have been offered after a generation of lookalike centrists whom they view as milder shades of the Conservatives.
“What’s the point of being in power if you’re just doing Tory policies?” one asked. That attitude is also a result of the shallow legacy — as they see it — left by Mr Blair’s New Labour, particularly among many northern voters who felt their lot did not meaningfully improve despite increased public spending and urban regeneration projects.
In Mr Corbyn they have selected an unapologetic socialist who, according to a leaked draft of the party’s manifesto, wants to renationalise the railways, postal service and parts of the power industry, restore the sway of once-powerful trade unions and abolish university tuition
Paul Longshaw, a local Labour councillor, said Corbyn policies such as shoring up the health service and boosting the minimum wage appealed to many voters when they heard them without the filter of a hostile media.
Maggie Smith, a retired teacher at the Salford rally, said Mr Corbyn “brought me back to Labour. I left because of Tony Blair”. Surely New Labour had accomplished something, she was asked? Eventually, Mrs Smith cited the Sure Start programme — introduced in 1998 to improve health and early education for children — but then noted the Conservatives had demolished it.
Standing nearby was James Butterworth, 30, a teacher from Prestwich. He said he would vote for Labour for the first time after shunning the party “because of Tony Blair” and his participation in the Iraq wars — an issue that still festers in the party.
He was not interested in supposedly practical alternatives, saying: “If you feel passionate about something, you have to stick to your principles.
Labour’s manifesto has been given the thumbs up by voters, a ComRes poll reveals today. It shows overwhelming support for plans to re-nationalise energy, tax the wealthiest and cap the pension age rise.
The poll also finds a clear majority do not rate Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate to be Prime Minister – but deplores the PM’s promise to fox-hunters.
An emboldened Conservative government would indeed be good news for ‘Strong and Stable’ funeral directors, as:
- air pollution continues unabated,
- the health service deteriorates,
- the incidence of adult depression and mental illness in children grows apace
- ‘moral fibre’ rots: latest indication:10,000 Britons signed up to one of the world’s largest paedophile internet networks
- and others are debt-ridden due to the daily onslaught of consumerist advertising,
- sedated by inane, often BBC-provided TV quiz shows
- or led astray by a violent TV/online diet.
Tom Young says May’s ‘Strong and Stable Government’: (is) More Than a Tagline – indeed it is and a Conservative stabilisation unit would, in future, see an increasingly heavy workload.
New claimants with a disability have just been hit by a £30 a week cut in benefits to save the government £1bn over four years even though their living costs are higher because of the need for assisted travel, hospital appointments, extra heating, etc., and they are likely to take far longer to find a job.
A friend who intends to vote Labour writes of his issue with the Labour message: “it remains too rooted in struggle and injustice, and not enough in giving people a reason to vote if they don’t suffer or struggle”.
But many well-placed voters are deeply concerned when seeing others in difficulties. And a far larger swathe of the population is struggling than he seems to think:
- graduates in formerly secure jobs are being made redundant,
- people in their twenties and twenties now see no option but to live with their parents,
- many people are suffering from urban air pollution and miserable traffic congestion,
- education cuts will affect their children as the Public Accounts Committee has warned,
- in some areas people in need of healthcare are affected by a declining NHS service.
- mental illness, no doubt in part due to one of more of these factors, is rising rapidly in both children and adults.
Professor Prem Sikka sees the positive, constructive Labour message; U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn plans:
- to raise corporation tax by more than a third over the next three years and plough the £6bn proceeds into schools and universities,
- restore maintenance grants for the poorest students,
- abolish university tuition fees
- guarantee that five, six and seven-year olds will not be taught in classes of more than 30.
- creating a National Education Service to equip Britain’s workers for the post-Brexit economy,
- extend free adult education to allow workers to upgrade their skills,
- raise the cap on NHS wages, and
- to build up to a million new homes, many of them council houses.
If ‘the sums don’t add up’, a standard Conservative knee-jerk reaction:
Withdraw subsidies from fossil fuel & nuclear companies and arms exporters, jettison HS2 and redirect investment to improving rail and waterway transport links.
Sikka rightly ends: People are our biggest asset and only they can build a nation. We have a choice: Tax cuts for the rich or investment in our future to enable people to realise their potential.
Does Theresa May have the temperament and inter-personal skills to lead successful Brexit negotiations asks Steve Beauchampé?
Extracts from his blog, “ General Election 2017 – May Plays Her Trump Card”
We don’t have to look far for reasons to believe that the Prime Minister might be a potentially toxic mixture of intensely controlling, highly secretive, overly sensitive and with a touch of the feudal monarch about her. There’s her unwillingness to campaign using little apart from slogans, to debate live with rival party leaders, to encounter voters other than pre-vetted Conservative Party members or to place herself in anything less than totally managed and protected situations. There is surely more to all this than a natural awkwardness or introspection, of being uncomfortable around people; it is about avoiding scrutiny and challenge, it indicates a lack of self-confidence, an inability to think on your feet. And it might also display a degree of paranoia.
. . . there was no Conservative Party leadership contest, merely a coronation, with May anointed before most party members even had the opportunity to hear or scrutinise her policy platform or personal suitability for the post, let alone approve it. Rivals quickly fell by the wayside, with the mildly stubborn Andrea Leadsom’s bid terminated after she was allegedly goaded by the Tory hierarchy into making an unwarranted personal remark about May.
A bellicose and bunker-like attitude towards the most important negotiations this country has faced in decades
Theresa May’s most memorable contributions to the remainder of 2016 were her revelations to October’s Conservative Party annual conference that the UK would leave both the Single Market and Customs Union as well as end the free movement of workers, with the formal process of departing the EU commencing by the end of March 2017. None of this had been agreed beforehand by the Cabinet.
When the High Court ruled that Parliament, and not the Prime Minister, had the authority to determine when Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which commences our exiting the EU, could be invoked, May was furious, ordering a government challenge in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, she permitted Justice Secretary Liz Truss to rail against the judges and failed to intervene to de-escalate tensions both when a Daily Mail front page headline called those judges ‘Enemies of the People’ and when a tirade of online abuse was directed against Gina Miller, who had brought the case.
After government defeat in the Supreme Court, May watched the subsequent House of Lords debate on the Article 50 Bill, staring at Peers from the steps of the royal throne . . .
Having stolen UKIP’s mantle (move much further to the right and the BNP might start to get nervous) Theresa May now seems to be taking cues from US President Donald Trump. Yes there were some leaks against her from EU officials, but then Whitehall also regularly leaks to its political advantage. But Theresa May’s speech outside No. 10 last week was designed to create the illusion of shady foreigners out to get Britain, before claiming that only she can save the country from them. Works every time!
May’s rage against the Brussels machine came only a day after she had revelled in claiming that the next person to find out that she was “a bloody difficult woman” would be European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Although I suspect that she’ll quickly find out that the other 27 EU heads of state and their negotiators can be even more ‘bloody difficult’ should Britain’s attitude be to go looking for a punch up. And if she continues on a confrontational course, Theresa May might now learn that the election of the strongly pro-EU Emmanuel Macron as French President will make her already difficult task just that little bit tougher. . .
Little wonder that many in Brussels are becoming tired with Britain, with its accusations and insults and with our Prime Minister’s testy approach when goodwill, reciprocity and a modicum of inter-personal skills might bring far greater rewards.
Such a bellicose and bunker-like attitude towards the most important negotiations this country has faced in decades, if not centuries, might well bring Theresa May a substantial General Election victory. Yet the country that she is creating has deepening political fissures, geographically and generationally, that both the forthcoming election and the Prime Minister’s anti-consensual and seemingly joyless leadership style appear to be exacerbating. It is a deeply unedifying spectacle. Given all of the above, do I really want to give Theresa May a mandate to negotiate my country’s future?
May 8th 2017
Corbyn well-wishers will have noted his increasingly effective performance on Prime Minister’s Questions and the enthusiastic crowds continuing to attend meetings held in different parts of the country.
Standing ovation at head teachers’ conference
“Enjoying life in the political trenches” (O’Grady)
A reader whose name I carelessly forgot to record, draws attention to an article by Sean O’Grady in the Independent. Amongst different poll results we read O’Grady’s reference to an earlier article recording Jeremy Corbyn’s party as rising by four points in the last week to 30% support (Opinium below).
A YouGov poll (below) between 27 and 28 April found that Labour was up two points to 31%; last week a YouGov poll gave the Tories a 23-point lead, showing that the Conservatives dropped by 10 points in the polls in the first week of the election campaign.
O’Grady believes that Mrs May is underestimating Jeremy Corbyn and “digging up old stuff” doesn’t matter much to the voters of 2017: “They already know he’s an old leftie. All it does is show he sticks to his guns and, in the case of talking to the IRA, he got there a decade before John Major and the Conservatives did. Man of Principle and all that”.
He says that the more exposure Corbyn and Farron have on TV, the more the voters will see that they are not the idiots the press tells them they are and adds that the Labour vote may well be more resilient in the North and London than May and her advisers thought: “London is firmly pro-EU and vast swaths of the North are still not convinced the Conservatives are for them. Across the country, poorer pensioners – still certain to vote – will not like what the Tories are telling them, or hinting, about the triple lock on the state pension . . . They need a responsive NHS too”.
May’s repetition of the “strong and stable leadership” phrase is also attracting derision, he notes – “a pretty silly soundbite” – and moves on to the subject of tactical voting:
“There are small signs of it now, especially among EU Remainers, and in the Green Party which is even standing down in some areas for Lib Dems or Labour. Ukippers are doing the same for the Tories, though some of their protest vote may just stay home next time. The net effect of all this is highly unpredictable, but tactical voting by Labour and Lib Dem supporters was one of things that punished the Tories so badly in 1997”. O’Grady thinks that “under first past the post it could leave the Conservatives at a net disadvantage. It will see Sir Vince Cable back in the Commons at any rate, and push the Tories’ hoped-for landslide back . . . The country doesn’t want one-party rule that doesn’t reflect or heal its divisions. May’s rhetoric goes against that grain and is alienating potential support”. O’Grady ends:
“(T)he Conservatives’ simplistic messages do not match the greater sophistication of the voters and the new media landscape. May and her shadowy PR advisers are just not as good at politics or as modern as Thatcher and Saatchi were back then. Maggie ran a Blitzkrieg campaign, her fast-moving tactics and policy arguments leaving her underprepared enemies foundering: Theresa is trying to do the same through an interminably dull trench war of attrition, lobbing the same old slogans across no mans land into the electoral mud, missing targets and doing little damage after the first bombardment. Her enemies have been given all the time they need to match her organisation and regroup, and they enjoy life in the political trenches”.
Nigel Nelson’s understated reaction to the polls: “If a week is a long time in politics then six weeks until the General Election is an eternity. And there is plenty of time to be surprised by the outcome”.
Jeremy Corbyn: standing ovation from hundreds of head teachers for his speech about Labour’s education policy
The mainstream press will give Corbyn’s speech minimal publicity, and hardly any of the scant coverage that does appear will frame the speech in terms of the rousing ovation that it received.
Lesley Docksey draws an article in the Guardian to our attention: in it we learn that George Monbiot has decided to vote Labour in the general election. He trounces the Blairite MPs who have been so disloyal to their elected leader: “Those who tolerated anything the Labour party did under Blair tolerate nothing under Corbyn. Those who insisted that we should vote Labour at any cost turn their backs as it seeks to recover its principles.
“They proclaim disenchantment now that it calls for the protection of the poor, the containment of the rich and the peaceful resolution of conflict.
“They proclaimed undying loyalty when the party stood for the creeping privatisation of the NHS, the abandonment of the biggest corruption case in British history, the collapse of Britain’s social housing programme, bans on peaceful protest, detention without trial, the kidnap and torture of innocent people and an illegal war in which hundreds of thousands died”.
He sees these Labour MPs helping to grant Theresa May a mandate to destroy what remains of ‘British decency and moderation’ – refusing to see the good that a government implementing Corbyn’s policies could do.
The popularity of Corbyn’s recent policy announcements leads Monbiot to believe he has a chance, albeit slight, of turning this around. His pledge to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour is supported by 71% of people, according to a ComRes poll; raising the top rate of tax is endorsed by 62%.
He cites Labour’s 10 pledges, placed some time ago on this website, which could – incorporated in its manifesto – appeal to almost everyone. They promote the theme of security:
secure employment rights,
secure access to housing,
secure public services,
a secure living world.
Compare this with the attitude of the major funder of the Brexit campaign, billionaire Peter Hargreaves: ‘Insecurity is fantastic’.
Those who question Corbyn’s lack of experience and competence should remember where more ‘credible’ politicians led us:
Blair’s powers of persuasion led to the Iraq war.
- Gordon Brown’s reputation for prudence blinded people to the financial disaster he was helping to engineer, through the confidence he vested in the banks.
- Cameron’s smooth assurance caused the greatest national crisis since the second world war.
- May’s calculating tenacity is likely to exacerbate it.
A progressive alliance/tactical voting?
Much advice follows; the most congenial is that Labour should embrace the offer of a tactical alliance with other parties:
“The Greens have already stood aside in Ealing Central and Acton, to help the Labour MP there defend her seat. Labour should reciprocate by withdrawing from Caroline Lucas’s constituency of Brighton Pavilion.
Such deals could be made all over the country: and as the thinktank Compass shows, they enhance the chances of knocking the Tories out of government . . .”
Monbiot (left) ends:
“The choice before us is as follows: a party that, through strong leadership and iron discipline, allows three million children to go hungry while hedge fund bosses stash their money in the Caribbean, and a party that hopes, however untidily, to make this a kinder, more equal, more inclusive nation I will vote Labour on 8 June . . . I urge you to do the same”.
General Election – Cole: “ My money is on Corbyn . . . to displace Theresa May because he leads a movement, not just a party”
In 2016, Roger Cole, founder and chairman of Ireland’s Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA), predicted that Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, will displace Theresa May because he leads a movement, not just a party.
In 2009, he writes, Jeremy Corbyn visited Ireland to attend an international peace conference in Shannon organised by Pana which has, over the last 20 years, developed strong links with British CND, Scottish CND and CND Cymru. They represent all that is best among the British, Scottish and Welsh people. It is their values and their vision that gives hope for the possibility of a great future for the UK shorn of its imperial culture either in what remains of the British empire or the emerging European empire.”
Corbyn has, for his entire political life, been a supporter of CND and its values. He was re-elected Labour leader not because he is a decent, honest and humble man (which he is) but because he leads a movement, not just a political party.
It is a movement that wants, among other things, a real national health service (the greatest achievement of the historic 1945 Labour government), rather than the continuation of Britain’s imperial tradition of a commitment to perpetual war and the renewal of the Trident nuclear programme as advocated by the current ruling parties of Tories and New Labour.
If Corbyn becomes prime minister it will be because of a deep and fundamental change in the values of the British people.
So can that happen? The prime minister, Theresa May, has made it clear she is prepared to kill millions of people with the Trident missile system. She will no doubt have the total support of the war-loving neoliberal corporate media. Current polls show that in an election she would win relatively easily.
So what would Corbyn have to do to defeat the Tories?
First, he had to become the undisputed leader of Labour and his second victory went a long way to achieving that . . . While the internal attacks on Corbyn will not end, the marginalisation of the Blairites will accelerate and consolidate the unification of Labour under Corbyn in its fight against the Tories.
Corbyn’s decision to accept the democratic decision of the British people to reject membership of the emerging European empire and its emerging European army has been crystal clear. It is a decision that will go a long way to regaining the support of those voters who shifted to Ukip.
In Scotland, the SNP will more than likely continue to dominate, but would be far less antagonistic to a Corbyn-led Labour. If they work together in the first-past-the-post system, they could put the final nail in the coffin of Tory Scotland and maximise the number of MPs for both parties. After all, with a Corbyn-led government, the SNP understand that it is their best chance of a second independence referendum.
While there is no doubt that decades of Thatcher/Blair senseless warmongering and neoliberalism remains popular, especially among those that benefited from it . . . the sustained attacks on the social system, the massive and growing concentration of wealth in the hands of a small number of billionaires is losing its appeal among a growing number of ordinary people. They would prefer a more equitable taxation system, a better-funded NHS and an end to perpetual war. And why not?
So, will Corbyn become the next British prime minister? It is now a realistic option . . .The British people may decide that even if they do not support everything Corbyn stands for, they will agree to a change – in practice more of a Harold Wilson than a Clement Attlee transformation.
Anyway, I put a bet on that the Brexit side would triumph in the recent referendum. My only regret now is that I did not put more money on it.
Come the British election I will not make that mistake again: my money is on Corbyn.
With thanks for this lead to Felicity Arbuthnot
Labour Party membership (517,000 members in March 2017) is rapidly increasing after the general election was announced. Before:
Yesterday a Wimbledon reader forwarded an email message received from her friend: “Hope you all saw Jeremy Corbyn on Marr this morning. If not, DO catch up on i-player. But I fear for how it’ll be reported in the press”.
The Guardian’s John Crace was flippant/facetious and even-handedly belittled the other contributors. Dan Bloom in the Mirror was thoughtful and informative, itemising three things we learn and three things we didn’t and yet again this paper made available a link to the full transcript. The Mail and Times cherry-picked and hoped to score points on Trident/security/NATO.
Social media snapshot:
Corbyn’s calmness in the face of Marr’s questions, on both foreign and domestic policy was commended by many Twitter users:
Firmly but genially Jeremy Corbyn restrained Andrew Marr’s impetuous interruptions and calmed him down when he ‘jumped in too quickly’. Some appealing ‘soundbites’ include a wish to:
- reduce pay ratios in the public and private sectors;
- ensures universal access to good quality housing, healthcare and education;
- tariff-free trade access to the EU;
- investment bank to increase manufacturing jobs
- work out an immigration system
- and confer with supportive MEPs and colleagues who head EU states (below).
He appears to be the only prime ministerial candidate remarkable for stability, poise, honesty, patience, maturity and goodwill to all – how many more will echo the wish voiced earlier: “I want this man as prime minister!” ?
Two social media discoveries:
The media claim that older voters don’t vote Labour and won’t like Corbyn. Let’s get together to share the over 50s message and show them how wrong they are.