I was wrong about Jeremy….

by Ray_North on July 11, 2016

imagesThis time last year, I embarked upon a short-lived and rather embarrassing Summer romance.

I was tired with my relationship, bored with doing the usual things and listening to the same old stories; I wanted something new and exciting, I wanted something different. I wanted that button popping passion that comes an illicit and dangerous liaison.

I had a fling with Jeremy Corbyn.

What was I thinking. Me, someone who, since University days, has eschewed hard ideology, me with a history of life in the centre seduced by a beardy old Marxist with an extensive collection of anoraks.

In my defence, at that time, there were a couple of siren forces at work – first, the list of alternatives to Mr Corbyn were uninspiring: Yvette Cooper seemed too entrenched in the old days of Brown and Blair; Burnham seemed too slick, all eye-lashes and little substance; whilst Liz Kendall didn’t speak to me or for me at all.

But Jeremy Corbyn! I remember him as a rather predictable left-wing back bencher who would draft very worthy and very wordy early day motions often lauding international left wing causes. I would rarely disagree with the sentiment, but, never took them seriously.

I became amazed however, by just how popular Corbyn became – and it wasn’t just card carrying members of the Marxist left who were supporting him, people seemed to see in Jeremy Corbyn an alternative to the phoniness of Westminster, to focus groups and opinion polls and psephological jargon, here was a man who seemed to believe in something.

For a brief while I was seduced by the possibility that the left may have an anti-hero on its hands, a man who, unbridled by the encumbrances of obvious ambition, would be able to form a coalition of the disaffected. I was seduced by the idea of a mass populist movement, encompassing greens and social democrats, liberals and the celtic fringe. I thought that austerity would be exposed, I thought that the elite would be attacked from a position of principle and well thought out counter-argument. I thought that the social liberalism that appeared to be a cause of the left would be articulated in a challenging way.

I was wrong.

Jeremy Corbyn is not a superman. His underpants are firmly on the inside of his slacks. He means well, but he has failed to move a single inch in any direction that might enable him to form the political and intellectual coalition that is necessary to take on the right wing.

It has become increasingly clear that Corbyn’s agenda is the agenda of the traditional Marxist; it has become clear that he is fighting battles that were being fought, with little success or coherence, in the Student Unions back in the 1980s. He has failed to grasp the fundamental and overarching principle of the Labour Party that it must obtain its aims through Parliamentary democracy – and this means working within Parliament, it means being an effective force in elections, it means (much as we all hate it) having an effective presence within the media. It is not enough to be able to muster 10,000 placard waving marchers on the streets of Islington, because that isn’t going to help the plight of the 10,000 former steel workers in Shotton, or the 10s of thousands of people on zero-hours contracts or low wages. Ideological purity won’t help the chronic housing shortage, or the environmental issues or the overcrowding in our jails or the continuing failings of our education system, because ideological purity won’t prevail at a general election.

The final straw came during the EU referendum, when Corbyn demonstrated (probably because he doesn’t fundamentally believe in the EU) that he was singularly incapable of persuading those who would probably see themselves as being naturally aligned with the Labour Party, of the benefits of voting to remain.

I am still uninspired by the candidates being suggested as potential leaders of the Labour Party. I continue to hope that a strong left of centre candidate emerges who is interested in forging links with others in order to address the issues that many of us feel are being forgotten.

But, clearly, Jeremy Corbyn is not that man.

My eyes are no longer misty, my brain is no longer befuddled by passion, and sadly, I can’t even say that our brief coupling was in any way satisfying.

Jeremy, get your coat.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Killingworth July 11, 2016 at 1:49 pm

I knew JC in the Hornsey Labour Party in the 1970s.

At that time he was widely supposed to be a tool of the late Pat Jordan, the leader of a faction of the International Marxist Group who lived locally. Looking back from this distance I am not so sure who was the tool of who.

Reply

Ray_North July 11, 2016 at 1:50 pm

They were probably a pair of tools….

Reply

George_East July 11, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Amen to that.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: