JC is not for me
Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to the top of the Labour leadership race was predicted by no-one I’ve heard of. We are now dealing with the consequences of a select few Labour MPs deciding to endorse a candidate they do not agree with, ensuring he entered the race. Whatever designs they may have had on the ritual slaughtering of the sacrificial left-winger in debates, these have been displaced by the most unedifying sight imaginable in modern British politics — a major political party in full combat with itself.
I have many problems with Jeremy Corbyn’s politics. I have many problems with the way his supporters behave, and the form of politics that their behaviour represents — a new, aggressive, form of politics with a tone-deafness to deviation from a narrowly set, widely-shared view of how the world is and how the world must be. It has become especially vicious in an era of social media, where algorithms ensure that the internet you see is the one you have made in your own image. I suspect it is not spread far beyond the chattering classes, but it is so highly virulent that I fear it will become the prevailing style for years yet to come.
As a boring, centrist-type person, I am of course the antithesis of the “new politics” that people who attach themselves to the campaigns of people like Mr Corbyn tend to identify with. It is the same in Scotland with the SNP, and it is the same in large swathes of England with UKIP and it is doubtless the same elsewhere in the world. I represent the establishment voice, the discredited machine politicians, the emptiness of the centre ground. As such, I do not expect my critique to find much response beyond anger that I have slid into their bubble of agreement and some degree of derision.
Nevertheless, I want to offer why I think Mr Corbyn’s politics are wrong; why I think he would be a disaster as Prime Minister, and why I think the oft-offered defence of him that he somehow represents a “principled politics” is an alarmingly short-sighted defence. The example I will choose is his position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This conflict has been ongoing since early 2014, and has been directly motivated by the Kremlin’s desire to prevent neighbouring states falling out of its influence and indirect control.
It is important to note that, because that point is contested by people like Mr Corbyn. His letter to the Morning Star places the blame for what has happened to Ukraine in the lap of the United States. In other words; it is the fault of the United States that the people of Ukraine wished to be rid of a Russian-backed regime that was defying their desire to align more closely with the West. How dare the Ukrainian people seek to make their own destiny and draw closer to states other than those that the Kremlin deems acceptable?
Thus, my first point drawn from this is as much — Mr Corbyn is no anti-imperialist. He is an anti-American, and this directs his entire world view to the point that he will muddy and quibble and fuzz the imperialist ambitions of other states in order to further advance that agenda. If he were an anti-imperialist, he would not need to talk of a “neutral” Ukraine; code, of course, for a Ukraine permanently required to forego any ambition it may have of joining the European Union (EU) or NATO for fear of offending Russian sentiments. If he were an anti-imperialist, he would endorse the wish of the Ukranian people to go about their own destiny freely, without intereference from Moscow. There would be no dithering, no equivocation.
This leads us to the other rank nonsense in his letter cited above. Mr Corbyn notes that the US was involved in a host of wars in the 1990s, along with many NATO allies. It is as though the US and NATO willed the war in Yugoslavia, or the Gulf, or Afghanistan, into existence. Of course, in the first case NATO was reluctantly sent in to try and stop a genocide, in the second US military might was deployed to restore the sovereignty of a small state after it was crushed by invasion and the latter was motivated by a response to a colossal terrorist outrage. But none of this is mentioned by Mr Corbyn — the US is the warmonger, the font of the ill in the world that must now be pushed back.
In the last Parliament, I felt most aggrieved by Ed Miliband’s equivocation over Syria, putting down an essentially identical motion to the government and then seeing the whole strategy collapse. I felt he had put immediate political gain; splitting the Conservative Party, over the wider questions of war and peace, justice and order, that a Prime Minister needs to have a grasp of in order to do well in office. Subsequently, I did not feel he had the metal to make a good Prime Minister.
Mr Corbyn’s mistakes have been made long before he has had sight of that august office of leader of the Labour Party. He has picked his Great Satan, and now will bend the truth until it matches that world view. I question the moral integrity of a man who puts opposition to the foreign policy of the United States above the need to speak loudly, clearly and plainly against the imperialism of other states; especially ones who are infinitely more oppressive, destructive and damaging internally than the US. I question the judgement of a man who sits on panels with homophobes, racists and Holocaust deniers and then pretends never to have heard of them. I question the vision of a man who seems to have an understanding of international history limited by his own prejudices against one country.
Mr Corbyn may be for others. But he, and his brand of politics, are not for me.