No doubt some of you will have been celebrating hardcore this past weekend over Jeremy Corbyn’s election victory, becoming The Leader Of The Labour Party, no less! Indeed I would agree that his projection from Zero to Hero is something quite good in terms of making Parliamentary debate more interesting. Now it’s time for some sober reflection. Here are a few areas through which progressives should want to challenge the limits of Corbynism, to help promote a better future for all.
One of Corbyn’s main strengths has been to appeal to those who are ‘mad as hell’ (millionaire singer Charlotte Church) over Evil Tory welfare cuts. Indeed this sums up Corbyn’s whole critique of ‘austerity’. He doesn’t have an alternative economic plan, except for maybe renationalising the railway (more on this later) – his main beef with austerity economics is only that it leads to welfare cuts and a low rate of increase to the salaries of the bloated public sector.
Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between Corbyn and IDS however. To his credit, IDS recognises that disabled people and those with one form of mental illness or another are not, by default, unable to do anything. Volunteering is a good way for those people to gradually reingratiate themselves with the workforce – it gives people something to do rather than being idle at home watching boring daytime TV, provides structure to the week, and gives people a raison d’etre that the false freedom of doing nowt does not. Indeed forms of online volunteering now exist as well for those that are housebound for whatever reason. This should be promoted if we care about utilising the human potential.
However IDS can be a little too punitive at times. Getting people back into the workforce has to be done in a way both parties consent to, often gradually, and the DWP has to use humane reasoning skills rather than only apply blunt sanctions.
Corbyn is to apologise for his Party’s disastrous military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, support for the Libyan bombing of 2011, and blundering in Syria, all of which has arguably contributed to a million deaths, and created the Islamo-fascist regime known as ISIS which, in turn, has helped fuel the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. This apology is really great! But one wonders why, if Corbyn is so principled, he remained in the Labour Party for so long whilst all this was going on? Perhaps he was just playing the slow game, cunningly waiting for a chance to pounce and become the new Leader, whereupon he would denounce the 22 crimes of his predecessors in order to glorify himself and make the Labour Party totally different! Then again…
Will The People’s Jez promote world peace in contrast to the entire history of the Labour Party? Well, as National Chair of the ‘Stop the War coalition’, the ‘Stop’ possibly better being renamed ‘Start’, our Jez wants the West to apply sanctions against Israel. As any critical leftist knows, sanctions are a form of ‘soft war’ or ‘siege warfare’ that tends to push the targetted country into a position of defiance that ends up leading to all-out war. This is what happened in Iraq. Throughout the 1990s, after their first war against a bad dictator that left 150,000 dead, the West applied sanctions against Iraq, arguably killing millions of children, left the country destitute, and paved the way for Tony Blair to bomb the place again onwards from 2003. Corbyn wants to apologise for Blair, but at the same time, having wiped the slate clean, may repeat the same mistakes of history in relation to Israel. He does already hang around with Holocaust deniers, so perhaps this holy man of peace might launch a far more devastating righteous war?
Top of Corbyn’s ‘to-do’ list is nationalising public utilities like the railway. Wa-hey! Obviously no-one remembers when the railway was previously run by the state and popularly known as ‘British Snail’. Nevertheless, Corbyn doesn’t seem to grasp that nationalisation is not the same thing as socialism (worker’s control). In fact nationalisation is a prop for capitalism. What happens is that the state, using taxpayers money, buys an industry at premium price, runs it shoddily, then uses that as an excuse to say it would be better in private hands. They then resell the industry to the private sector at a knock-down price. The overall effect is that billions of pounds of taxpayers money subsidises capitalism, with the public suffering in the meantime. Nice one, Red Jez.
Corbyn proclaims himself a ‘man of the people’ yet hates the liberties we enjoy. Before Blair even had the idea, Corbyn was arguing for a smoking ban in public places in 1997. Then, on this election run, he floated the idea of having ‘women-only’ carriages on trains. The claim was that over 1,300 women report sexual harrassment on the railway each year. What he failed to mention was that in Britain there are over 1.5bn journeys made each year, making a woman’s chance of being ‘harrassed’ 600,000-1. Furthermore, among these cases of harrassment, most are of the category ‘receiving unwelcome attention’ – not something that should be seen as a serious problem, but something that happens rarely when one lives in a society of human beings. The idea of women-only carriages is a form of segregation. One could easily massage statistics to show 1,300 black people get racially abused each year, therefore we need negro-only carriages. There’s a word for that: apartheid.
As I said at the start, I think Corbyn will help shake up politics in Westminster. Despite his defects, he is not the worst of a bad bunch, and I wouldn’t hold a grudge against anyone that voted for him. But please don’t let nostalgic sympathy for Ye Olde Left get in the way of taking a critical stance to any of our leaders. The last thing we need is a new Messiah.