A LEXICON OF ANTI CORBYN BUZZWORDS
One measure of the desperation that the Establishment feels at the advent of Corbyn is the number of “barrier words” they use. These are a selection of cliches, which don’t actually mean anything but which they hope can be used in place or argument or thought.
By dismissing the entirety of the Corbynite worldview with these simple words, they hope they can stop others (and themselves) thinking about it or engaging with it. Because if people spent too much time thinking about Corbyn’s policies they would see how sensible they are and how transparently rotten are the timbers of the current tired Thatcherite consensus.
How successful this tactic is, I’m not quite sure. Certainly it appears to be successful in stopping the speaker himself from thinking things through. Whether it has the same effect on his or her listeners, who knows?
Let’s have a look at some of these buzz-words and how meaningless they are:
This is probably the most common one you hear about Corbyn. Again, entirely meaningless. He is a politician who has a lot of supporters. Sometimes that happens. Usually that is seen as a point in a politician’s favour.
He has a lot of supporters because he is offering policies that a lot of people want and need, but which they have been denied access to for a quarter of a Century. Someone comes along who answers that need and of course they are going to greet him enthusiastically. It helps that he is a genuine, down to earth person who isn’t self-satisfied and full of hot air like most politicians. But neither supporting someone’s policies nor appreciating their personality is indicative of a cult. If other politicians are uncomfortable with the amount of loyalty he inspires, maybe they should have offered us better themselves over the past few decades.
As noted above, the main purpose of these words is to shut down the debate before the discussion moves on to the merits of Corbyn’s arguments. There is another purpose to “Cult”, however, and that is to neutralise a positive thing about Corbyn (people like him) by turning it into a negative.
PARTY OF PROTEST
The Anti-Corbynites seem to think this one is unanswerable, but what does it mean? Is it a bad thing to protest about stuff? Isn’t protesting about stuff the Opposition’s job? Surely the Opposition can’t hold the government to account if it doesn’t protest?
Do they mean that the Party protests as a substitute for winning power? But why are the two mutually exclusive? Surely it helps you bring attention to the government’s deficiencies if you are forcefully pointing out their wrongdoings.
Do they mean that Corbyn physically goes on Protests? So what? You’ve got politics all wrong if you just view it as some sort of competition to see who can come across as the most pompous, stuffy member of the establishment. That’s certainly one model of leadership, although an outdated one. A better model is someone who gets out there and promotes the causes he believes in. And again, how do protests not draw attention to the deficiencies of the government?
Most incredible of all is when you hear this from people who think the likes of Harman, Cooper , Kendall, Jarvis and Benn would provide more effective opposition . These people abstained on the Welfare Bill. How can you turn your nose up at the Opposition protesting but endorse them abstaining on government laws?
This one is often pulled triumphantly out of the bag in response to any argument a Corbynista might make. Apparently, Corbyn and his supporters are stuck in their student days and are therefore not serious politicians.
Well firstly, what exactly is it about Corbyn’s politics that are specific to students? A lot of students are actually right wing or apolitical, but even if they were all left wing so are a lot of other people.
Secondly, even if Corbyn’s brand of politics were confined to students, why would that invalidate those politics? Surely we should judge policies on their merits, not by which demographic they are identified with.
In saying “student politics” they are referring to the stereotype of students being idealists, of being radical and being progressive. What’s wrong with that? Surely it’s a good thing to hold politics like that, especially if you’re in the Labour Party (and it is usually from within Labour that this trope comes)
PREACHING TO THE CONVERTED
This is a Blairite favourite, with which they seem to think they can instantly end any argument, which is a shame because it actually reveals that they are incapable of original thought.
What they mean is that Corbyn only says things that appeal to people who already agree with him.
What doesn’t seem to have occurred to them is that if Corbyn changed his message to appeal to people who don’t agree with him that would mean that they in fact did agree with him. He would, in fact, still be preaching to the converted.
In saying this his critics unconsciously reveal their true agenda — they simply want Corbyn to say right wing things because they are right wing.
Unlike the examples above, this one more commonly comes from Blue rather than Red Tories, although I have heard it from people of a Blairite persuasion. It is perhaps the most ludicrous one of all. Sanctimonious means passing moral judgement on someone.
Huh? Who DOESN’T pass moral judgement on other people? It just differs from person to person what they pass judgement about. In fact right wingers are some of the most sanctimonious people I have ever come across. They’re always moaning about the Left, claiming that they “hate the West”, are “friends with terrorists”, “hate business”, “think the world owes them a living” to name but a few. How are those sentiments not sanctimonious?
Of course the motive behind them using this trope is pretty transparent — they are trying to shut down any discussion in which they can be held morally to account, in which they might be made to face up to their immoral/selfish/greedy/bigoted behaviour.
Another one used predominantly by Blue Tories. What on earth does it mean? And what relevance does it have to politics?
Even if it was relevant, it wouldn’t be accurate. Left wingers tend to be more independent minded and question things more, and this often leads to a highly developed sense of humour and sense of the absurd. It’s no co-incidence that the vast majority of comedians and actors are left wing or left leaning.
Righties, by contrast, tend to be rather uptight, short-tempered and with a tendency to take themselves too seriously.
What they often meant when they said this before the days of political correctness was that they wanted to be free to make racist, sexist and homophobic comments without censure.
The 1970s sitcom character was left wing. Corbyn is left wing. There the similarities end.
“SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS”
This quote from Animal Farm is very commonly heard from Tories and some Blairites in discussions about Corbyn. Again they seem to think it will instantly win the argument for them. Again it really just reveals their poor English Comprehension skills.
Now there are some contexts where this quote is valid as a critique of the left — where a left wing politician leads an affluent lifestyle or uses his position to Lord it over others.
The trouble is, the people using it rarely pay any attention whatsoever to context. They just triumphantly pull it out of the bag if Corbyn’s name comes up in any context whatsoever. Furthermore a lot of them genuinely seem to think there is no difference between Corbyn and the Stalin era Soviet politicians on whom Animal Farm was based.
IN A BUBBLE, SPEAKING TO OURSELVES
I had to add this one post-publication, in response to its use by GMB Union Boss Tim Roache (pictured)
If you don’t think about it too hard , it sounds kind of profound, and is certainly enough to get right wing Labour types nodding their heads in satisfaction.
Really, though, what does it mean and how is Corbyn doing it?
Of course, the party is largely looking inward at the moment, but that’s down to those who launched the coup and Smith, who launched the challenge but whom Roache is backing.
Other than that, how do Corbynites only talk to themselves? What about Corbyn’s recent ten point policy plan is inward looking and unrelated to the lives of ordinary people? Corbyn introduced the innovation of asking questions from members of the public at Prime Minister’s Questions, which Blairites mock but which is hardly inward looking.
Roache and other people who say this might not personally agree with the things Corbyn says, but that doesn’t make those things “inward looking”
Does it mean not reaching out to floating voters? Why wouldn’t Corbyn’s policies appeal to such voters? Cutting rail fares, controlling rents, ending austerity and not sending their sons into dangerous warzones overseas.
Of course what people who say this really mean is, they want Corbyn to say things that they, personally, agree with, which would just mean inhabiting a different (and inferior) bubble.
That’s what I got for now, if you can think of any more hit me up in the comments section.
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