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Don't tell me who is electable

One need not rehearse all the arguments on both sides of the Labour divide. Everybody has had their say, several times over: mainly in the media who seem to be the determinants of what is an acceptable or electable politician these days. But there are many of us who are attracted to the Corbyn concept for very good, sound reasons. We aren't 'Trots', or 'Leftists' (an expression I always associate with the far-right) but are instinctive Labour supporters who have decided it is time to find an alternative.

I am from a working class background, single parent family, grew up on a council estate and have plenty of sound Labour 'credentials'. But I am not poor any longer, work in culture (opera, in fact) work with, know, like and don't resent many people who are wealthy (some extremely so), partner with business (banks) am not against commerciality, free markets etc etc. I have no issues with the meritorious accumulation of wealth. I guess you could call me ripe pickings for either party. The fact that I have never, and would never, vote Conservative is simply as a consequence of my perception of the Thatcher years, of wealth at the expense of others' misery and suffering, of unfairness and the dismissal of a road sweeper merely because he doesn't have a degree.

When Blair came to power, like many, there was a rush of elation because we had finally rid ourselves of the Tories. But soon, it became clear that what Blair's Labour meant was essentially the pursuit and retention of power after a long period of conditioning people to believe that the only valid way to run a society was represented by the 'middle', the indistinguishable mush of greed led politics, with only a sliver of social justice at the edges. There was no denationalisation of utilities, something that I saw as representative of the abuse of the nation, that essentials for life were commoditised and profited from. And then there were decisions such as Iraq, student fees etc. Most of all, I became aware of the plastic, PR led power-at-any-cost-or-ditched-principle that is led and fed by the media and which has now given birth to this narrative of "electability" in relation to Corbyn.

Millions of people did not vote in the last election - many of them because they believed that Labour was hardly distinguishable from the Tories. On the surface of it, you might consider someone like me to be unlikely to benefit much from a Corbyn manifesto, but it is folly to believe that only the very poor have an interest in the fabric of society as it applies to them. It would serve me well to put a stop to the grotesque avarice of landlords and the rental market, for example. But most importantly, it serves all of us when huge swathes of our society are not being shat on, abused, attacked and held responsible for the failures of financial markets or other global institutions. Our society is judged, I believe, by how well it treats our most vulnerable. You see, it isn't only self interest that drives us, even though for decades the British public has been given that message.  Blair's Labour spoke much about equality and fairness in society, but we never really saw it because he felt it too risky to be overly nice to poor people. The Middle would disapprove and he might be outed from power. In opposition, Labour tried to ape and emulate what the government was doing because of this fear of scaring the natives. It voted for horrenidous welfare legislation. And so the cycle continues.

I, and many like me, genuinely don't want "presentable" plastic politicians, moulded and manipulated by the media and big business.  It is no longer about power at any cost, with a supposed "Leader". What appeals about Corbyn is that he seems utterly uninterested in playing the media presentation game - and he has suffered horrendously for that. He rises above paper-thin platitudes of media-savvy (and media-cowed) supposedly "electable" politicians.

So the characterisation of Corbyn supporters as far-left, Trots is about as wide of the mark as it is possible to get, and I suspect the establishment is actually starting to realise that too. So when you try to tell me that Corbyn is "unelectable" because someone at the BBC or the Sun, or the Telegraph planted the idea in your head, I will respectfully request that you don't have the temerity to tell me who I will or should vote for. There is yet another truth; I would far more willingly tolerate a genuine Tory government than a manufactured, plastic, PR led and ultimately deeply disappointing Labour one.  And if Corbyn is ousted by unfair and undemocratic means, I will simply never vote Labour again, as will be the case for many people. Which could of course bring a level of electoral threat to the replacement Blairite tendency, although having lost the last two elections, the most recent of which should have been a walk in the park to win, I suppose they are used to that anyway.

I want to see Corbyn propose a manifesto. And in the event he was elected, I want to see what is possible in our society with a real alternative view (although it is only 'alternative' because of the middle-hugging dishonesty of politics for the last 25 years.) If it doesn't work, we vote him out. But I am not afraid to try - and I know millions would actually agree with much of what he would propose, too. There will still be big business, people will still be, or become, wealthy, they will still have their big houses and super-well paid jobs. It would just mean that those who won't ever have those things and live a more modest life - like me - can actually enjoy life without being bled dry by the very society that uses me and others even further down the social totem pole to create its wealth.

If that makes me a Leftist Trot, then guilty as charged comrade, but I suspect you know it doesn't.


Comments

  1. Hi Mike,

    As I said on Twitter, a great scribble, and one I think would get a healthy subscription from Corbyn supporters. I don't count myself among them but there's still much I agree with. Seemingly we both desire a labour government, and more than that, we want it for the same reasons and to provide the same things.

    I won't rehearse any of my socialist credentials for you, but I'll agree you don't sound like much like a Trotskyist to me, though probably more of one than Corbyn. In fact, anyone familiar with Leon Trotsky's view of internationalism and opposition to fascism will know that Blair resembles him closer in terms of policy. But there's little point quibbling over the legacy of dead Soviets when there's a (barely) living Labour Party to be claimed.

    I can't agree with your review of the Labour Party's achievements of 97-10. A million children lifted out of poverty in that time cannot be labelled "a sliver of social justice at the edges". There's been a 0.5 million increase since 2010. I'm tempted to leave it there, as that's some achievement in my view and surely enough of a difference between Tory and Labour to keep your vote whomever the leader is. But there's tax credits, the minimum wage, paternity leave, civil partnerships, the hospitals, the schools. Oh, two and a half million pensioners lifted out of poverty. These things aren't nothing. For the people it affected, the years before and after were the difference between night and day. I won't make my case here for the war in Iraq, save to say I've held the opposite view to the one I have now, and I didn't have my mind changed easily. But in accounting for Blair's foreign policy you have to take it all, and that includes, among other things, a peace deal in Northern Ireland, the rescue of the Balkans from genocide, the forfeit of Gaddafi's nuclear and chemical arsenal and actual war criminals like Charles Taylor, Milosevic, Karadzic and, yes, Saddam Hussein in the dock for their very real and heinous crimes. Whatever else you may think of new labour, Kosovan Albanians don't name their children Tonibler (no, really, they do!) because they're in bed with big business. (1/2)>>

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  2. >>>(2/2) All this is as well to say that being elected means something. While I've heard it said a lot that Miliband's labour was too much like the Tories and so people voted Tory instead (no loaf is better than half a loaf), I've yet to see or hear of even a single example of someone voting in that way. Every bit of polling post election showed that the reasons people didn't vote labour was because they wanted the Tory austerity plan and didn't trust labour on the economy. This is uncomfortable but it does have the virtue of being true and verifiable. I know you didn't vote Tory and I'll bet you don't know anyone who cast a vote for them because they wanted an anti-austerity alternative. Such a person would be certifiably barking.

    As you asked nicely, I won't tell you who to vote for. In return, I think you could spare me, (and yourself) the insult that my opinions are formed for me by the Sun, the BBC or the Telegraph. Some of us do take the risk of thinking for ourselves, and I don't need to be told how bad Corbyn's performance has been, I've watched it first hand. I didn't read a transcript of him at the HASC last week, I watched the words tumble out of his mouth, unedited. In contrast to the no words in defence of a Jewish MP at the Anti-semitism press conference. And the cordial exchange with her abuser afterwards. I'm prisoner to the knowledge that there are four members of the front bench doing two shadow secretary roles. I can't un-see his appearances on Russia Today or PressTV or forget that he refused nearly every offer of a televised debate on Brexit or to share a platform with David Cameron in support of remain. After he secured himself on the ballot, he was very happy to make a media appearance, rather than staying at the meeting to secure the vote for his 100,000 new supporters.

    I admire that you are brave enough to say we should put his electability to the test and then vote him out of he doesn't win, but the risk to everything we both want is too great. Labour needs to make up several million votes just to claw back what it lost since 2010, and crucially, and because of our terrible voting system, in very specific places. Polling has us behind by about 6-8 points, but in those crucial marginals it's closer to 14. It's not one or two polls, they're all showing the same trends. It's a fair point to say polling has been wrong in recent years, but it's worth paying attention to the fact that the errors have always underestimated Tory gains and labour losses. Add in boundary changes and the calamity of the SNP gains in Scotland and Labour face losing the role of opposition and giving the Tories a bigger majority in parliament. The only thing keeping them in check is their small majority of 12 seats and if labour let the gap (almost a hundred seats) widen any further then the only mandate that will matter is Theresa May's

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