Why I Will Be Voting Lib-Dem on the 8th June (And Why You Probably Should Too)
Anyone who has paid attention to anything I have been sharing/saying in this social media wasteland will know that my opinion of the Labour Party, whom I would like to support and offer my vote to under any other circumstances, has never been lower, and that I cannot dare offer my vote — as a socialist, as a working class student, as a Europeanist — to them either at this election or for the foreseeable future. As such I have chosen to vote for the Liberal-Democrats on the 8th June, a position unthinkable for me two years ago, but now, unavoidable.
I have boiled this down to three main reasons why this is the case, which I will now elaborate on. (There are no links given that to find links for everything would be a gigantic effort, but everything here is, as far as I can tell, factual).
NOTE: When I say “Corbynites”, I mean members of Momentum and those who joined Labour just to support Corbyn. I do not tar those casually sympathetic to Corbyn with the same brush or accusations. I don’t mean any kind of personal attack by any of this.
1. The Corbyn leadership and the fracturing of Labour:-
Jeremy Corbyn is by far the worst leader of the Labour Party since Ramsay MacDonald, a man who nearly destroyed the party and while in office was forced into exile. Indeed, I’d go as far to say Corbyn combines the worst traits of the three worst Labour leaders: the self-serving cretinism of MacDonald, the extreme weakness and naivety of Lansbury, and the messianic ego and casual authoritarianism of Blair.
His pathetic leadership has led to Labour being in a position of gaining the least seats since the 1930s, and he denies it all the way. Polling for Foot was better, polling for Kinnock was better, Brown was better, Miliband was better!
The poorness of leadership extends through his entire cabinet and support staff: McDonnell, Milne and Murray are all proud Stalinists and pathological liars; Abbott is a terrible, condescending, self-inflating self-victimiser; Rayner is useless; Bailey-Long is similarly unnerving; and Thornberry may be the worst Shadow Foreign Secretary in history, oozing arrogance with every word. A bad leader leads to a bad cabinet.
He says he “doesn’t do personal”; he doesn’t need to, he has his supporters and intra-party enforcers to do it for him. (Just look at the recent case of poor Neil Coyle.)
He contradicts himself and then lies about it; when Buzzfeed pointed this out, with a full transcript in hand, they were banned from attending future events in an official capacity.
His foreign policy can best be summed up as: immediate surrender. Corbyn has already made it clear he would not bother to counter a Russian invasion of the Baltic; Abbott has already made it clear she would never *under any circumstance* deploy military forces to anywhere ever, not even to our own shores.
He may claim not to be a pacifist, but his bar for military defence is set so high that, short of a resurrected Nazi Germany, he will never ever intervene to defend a weaker state, fight terrorism, or stop a genocide. This is not surprising however, given that he introduced a parliamentary motion denying the genocide of Kosovar Albanians because it was ideologically inconvenient for him and his ilk…
This is not to say Corbyn is totally anti-war; he did in fact support the Iraq War…he just supported the other side. Under his leadership, the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) released a statement declaring the righteousness of killing British soldiers in Iraq; regardless of your views of that disaster of a conflict, such a position is a hideous call for Islamist atrocity against your fellow citizens, as well as the citizens of Iraq. Later statements declared “solidarity” with Islamist militias guilty of committing ethnic cleansing and levelling whole neighbourhoods, not to mention killing Coalition and Iraqi troops and policemen. This fits in with a statement released earlier by the group declaring solidarity with Saddam Hussein; that is, not opposition to the War itself, but a declaration of unconditional support for a genocidal dictator. The same group once released an article demanding that NATO invade Israel in order to dismantle it (so much for “anti-imperialism”…), and another supporting the illegal and genocidal Russian annexation of Crimea (so I guess “imperialism” is okay, just as long it is not the West doing it…). This goes without mentioning the Islamists, terrorist apologists, and war crime denialists they invite to their conferences to give talks. Just to be clear: all of this happened while he was either chair or vice-chair of the StWC.
By far the most disturbing aspect of all of this is not Corbyn himself, but the Corbynites: they embody a cultic politics of fanaticism and ideological purity that should be relegated to the early 20th century. For them, Corbyn is not just a man: he is the embodiment of justice itself. To oppose him is to oppose justice. Everything he says is the truth, and to contradict him is to condemn truth. He is always right, and has always been right, even when that “rightness” came not from personal reflection, but ideological dogmatism.
One article on openDemocracy even claimed that Corbyn was, in line with Walter Benjamin’s philosophy of history, the messianic rupture of the political continuum, heralding the end of history…I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on Benjamin, and to me, this idea of Corbyn is not only wrong, it is a revolting distortion.
When accused of not being a true leader, they claim he sits outside the standard paradigm of leadership, and in describing his “leadership style”, turn the definition of leadership into its very opposite. He stumbles along in his speeches and Q&As, needing a minder to be constantly by his side to help him answer questions and stop him from making mistakes. “He’s an old man!” they sequel. “Give him some respect!” Well, he shouldn’t really be leader then, should he?
For Corbynites, it doesn’t matter if the electorate give him Trump-level numbers in approval ratings, the policies will speak for themselves, even though that didn’t work for Miliband in spite of a majority of voters agreeing with most of his programme. They rejected him for the job of PM as much as they do now for Corbyn, and more so. They don’t like him. They will never like him. This is not the media. This is not the “establishment” (whatever that means today). This is the man giving the message they otherwise agree with, and they don’t trust him. Period.
During the last leadership election, the party was turned in a battleground; the civil war was brutal, and culminated in a particularly hardcore Corbynite saying to me that if Corbyn lost, it was due to mass corruption (of course, ridiculous). This is the fracturing of Labour itself: the conflict makes it look impossible to vote for the party with good faith. With people sitting on the NEC itself saying that those opposed to Corbyn should just leave the party or suffer some kind of punishment, it makes a split look inevitable.
And they think they can form a working government like this? With bricks being thrown through windows? And sexual jokes being made about internal opponents who are gay? And death and rape threats being issued? Corbynites make the worst fan-boys…anyone remember “kinder and gentler”?
The Corbynocracy is so extreme in its self-devotion that my biggest worry must be laid out, no matter how hysterical it may look: the possibly of an authoritarian government.
Corbyn has spent his entire career in adoration of and “solidarity” with a vast pantheon of dictators and terrorists (the list is simply too long…), and all available examples suggest that those who continuously praise dictators eventually become dictators themselves or end up acting like them, for example: the Chavez regime (whom Corbyn admired so greatly as to model his current movement on his) spent the ’00s heaping praise on Castro and Lukashenko, and now Venezuela is widely considered a dictatorship of Maduro; in the same period, Putin attempted a rehabilitation of Stalin’s image, and now Russia is also widely considered a dictatorship (by the way, Corbyn personally brushed off the Crimea annexation in an article in the Morning Star); and finally, Trump spent the whole of his campaign praising Putin and Kim Jong-Un, and now it has been revealed he asked the FBI director to imprison journalists and end the investigation into Flynn’s Russia connections, and when Comey refused, he fired him. That’s what they call Purge 101. History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme…
Corbyn would in all probability not have the gumption to establish a full on authoritarian state, but all indicators strongly suggest he will not respect the rule of law or what little separation of powers we have, and his enforcers and supporters will definitely not respect the freedom of the press. We have no written constitution to protect us, and our legal-political system is based on non-binding conventions and is therefore inherently malleable; a man of his vain arrogance would not hesitate to abuse it.
After all that, this is not to say I have no love for the Manifesto they have released; indeed I find almost nothing to disagree with in a forty-something point summary Corbynites distributed (with the exception of the extra bank holidays, which is worthless when we should be looking at a shortened work day or eliminating whole work days on a fortnightly basis). But it is the leadership that turns the manifesto into policy to enact, and I do not trust this leadership to do so competently and transparently. The manifesto itself, for all the Corbynite bluster, is not really radical enough to justify Corbyn’s supposed mandate; someone described it as merely “Miliband re-microwaved”. (Perhaps unkind to Miliband, whom I admit I still admire.)
The Lib-Dem manifesto is not perfect, but in many ways it is just as progressive, if not more so with its pledge to end the benefits cap (which Corbyn refuses to do) and to end the pointless and costly war on drugs. Tim Farron, unlike his predecessor, has shown himself to be a firm adherent of the social-democratic centre-left, a believer in practical social justice (not the idealised “identity politics” of Corbynism), and a pragmatist in international affairs — he has ruled out a new Coalition with the Tories too. The massive membership growth of the Lib-Dems embodies their shift from the political centre to the political Left.
Yes, there are issues with Farron, I admit it, but he has already shown himself to be a far more capable and principled opposition leader than Corbyn, by the length of a continent. And speaking of continents…
I not only stand by my vote on 23th June 2016, I double, nay, triple down on it. It was the worst collective political and economic mistake in contemporary British history; in 2017, only the election of Trump made it seem slightly less suicidal.
Corbyn’s sheer reluctance to defend the EU I am convinced was a decisive factor in Remain’s lost; his continued upholding of his Eurosceptic views and inability to vouch for the EU was, I believe, a failure in duty to Labour voters and to the British people in general. Rumours, unconfirmed it must be said, still fly that he has admitted to several people that he in fact voted Leave; the real surprise for many would be if he openly admitted he voted Remain.
His incompetence knows no bounds; he didn’t even understand how Article 50 worked. The day after the Referendum, he thought the two year period before exiting applied to the Referendum itself, not the triggering of talks (which has to be triggered by the government sending a formal request to the EU Commission, which happened at the end of last March). How can somehow so high up be so badly mistaken about a basic fact? Who is advising and informing him? If it was a comedy sketch it wouldn’t be funny because it would make people cringe too much.
Corbyn spearheaded the vote for Article 50, whipping MPs — ironically given his long history of whip defiance — and despite not getting a single concession on trade or workers’ rights from the government, he declared it a “victory”. It was utterly pathetic. He give into May in total submission.
Labour’s current Brexit policy is similarly confused: a few days ago, I thought if I wanted to understand their position, I could go back to Keir Starmer’s recent speech. But could I be so lucky? It dawned on me: of course not, because Corbyn keeps changing it! From hard to soft and back to soft again; first no single market, but open borders; then “access” to the single market, but restricted immigration; then “fair” immigration, with restricted single market access; and now…who knows? Even Ian Dunt, one of the most respected and quick-on-the-mark journalists in the country, admitted the other day he couldn’t even ballpark Labour’s Brexit policy. Corbyn’s own minsters don’t know what’s happening! This is not how effective government policy is formed…
That recent reports indicate that the Brexit vote and the Leave win was manufactured by foreign concerns seems to mean nothing for such an “anti-globalist” as Corbyn; his Corbynites were finally handed a credible and well-documented conspiracy about the manipulation of the voters, and they didn’t even make a peep. Indeed, a few claimed an article on the actual conspiracy was in fact a “conspiracy”! Oh how fanaticism always ends up eating itself…
The Lib-Dems have a consistent policy that everybody knows, because, guess what? They agreed on it early and kept stating it! Over and over again! That’s how political campaigns are won!
By promising a referendum on the final deal with the EU, the Lib-Dems don’t drown out Leavers, they give everyone, including them, the opportunity to settle accounts. You believe in the ‘democratic will of the people’? Then what’s your issue? If the voters reject it, we can forget this whole thing ever happened (an idealised view yes, but a pleasant one to hope for, no matter how hopeless). The voters have the right to change their minds. If they okay it, very well, democracy has been served (whether it has been served well is another issue). It’s your own argument Leavers. If you’re scared of defeat, then maybe you should stop making it. And while we’re on the subject of democracy and argument…
3. The growing illiberalism and social authoritarianism in British politics:-
Since the Referendum, there has been a growing divide in this country, an American-style ‘culture war’, and the most authoritarian personalities are having a fair shot at winning it. Judges are labelled traitors and “enemies of the people”; lawyers are questioned on their integrity or dismissed for their ethnicity; even basic and honest questions are shouted down. Expressing the truism that this country still remains chasmally divided on the issue of Brexit is at best ignored, at worst, silenced by screams.
We see this even in the actions of party leaders and their cronies: May locking journalists in windowless rooms while she tours half-empty factories; her divine sense of her right to rule and arbitrary decision making; painting anyone who challenges the “May-ham” of her regime as traitorous and worthy of utter derision, even that they side with the “enemy”. A Tory councillor even recently suggested imprisoning Remainers for “treason”.
As already indicated, Corbyn and Corbynism fairs no better, perhaps worse: he and his supporters declare any given criticism to be part of a vast conspiracy (even Owen Jones was not spared an onslaught), a prelude to a possible crackdown on media freedom once in power; an ITV journalist asking a question was forced back and shouted down; Corbyn personally nearly assaulted another reporter for asking questions; the persecution of Laura Kuenssberg and other journalists for also just asking questions, or simply for not relaying propaganda straight up. He and his groupies are not just critics of the media: they are anti-media in a way only comparable to Trump and his deplorables.
(Even the SNP are getting in on the act, declaring any criticism of them to be virtual treason to Scotland (a literal No True Scotsman fallacy!), demanding control over BBC Scotland content, and trying to set up a Stasi-like ‘godparent’ system to spy on families, perhaps in an attempt to gather political information.)
France and the Netherlands have managed to cast off their own fascist candidates, and Germany has shown a remarkably stable continuity, but we seem to be going the way of Trumpland, maybe even Putinist Russia.
A vote for either party is a vote for increased self-righteous authoritarianism either way. But by voting Lib-Dem, I will be at the very least be giving a symbolic fist bump to liberal freedoms and open debate.
My vote for the Lib-Dems does not draw on some deep love of free market capitalism or petty reaction, obviously far from it. I have a personal commitment to fight fascism and absolutism wherever I see it, whether it be on the Right or the Left. The divide between real liberals, real social democrats and real democratic socialists is now a hindrance to the survival of democracy, justice and individual freedom themselves. Christopher Lasch, commenting on Vietnam War-era America, but still highly relevant to us, once wrote: “the freedom to convince and persuade, in short, must be protected both from vigilantes and official attacks. […] Essential liberties have survived even in our flawed democracy. If these are destroyed, liberals and radicals will go down together.”
This is why I will vote for the Lib-Dem candidate in my constituency on the 8th June, and why I will not vote for any Labour candidate while Corbyn is the party leader (and I use the word “leader” lightly).
I don’t know if I’ll convince anyone with this, but, here I stand.