Questions all Jeremy Corbyn supporters need to answer
Owen Jones
1K366

1: Polling is ‘disastrous’ almost entirely as a result of internal sabotage- media briefings, false rumours and accusations against ‘sexist and racist Corbynista thugs’, Progress & PLP subterfuge, coordinated resignations, chicken coup, staggered leadership challenges et al. Polling is also temporary- a sudden five point loss directly correlates to orchestrated moves between establishment and media to remove Corbyn & co. There’s no reason it couldn’t be reversed as quickly depending on circumstances. The benefits of this leadership election is that it gives Labour the opportunity to disseminate their policies to the wider electorate while the Tories flounder under pressure from the plethora of scandals they’re embroiled in (election underdeclaring, Saudi/Yemen, NHS, Hinkley, etc), the EU question and calls for a snap GE.

2: You want soundbites and slogans, immigration mugs and pledge stones again? How about ‘Standing up, not standing by’- ‘straight talking politics’- ‘kinder, gentler politics’, ‘people powered politics’? Don’t they resonate and demonstrably so? Using an answer to a question you asked in a conversational interview to demonstrate a lack of clear vision is, frankly, ridiculous. The vision is crystal clear to hundreds of thousands of other supposedly irrelevant people. ‘Anti-austerity and pro-peace’ may lack the nuance you’d like (even though simplicity is perfectly acceptable to you when the Tories do it) but it sounds like the perfect antidote to the current mess neoliberals and neocons have gotten us into. If you’re so concerned it’s lacking, how about getting back on board and speculating about what that might look like? Also, maybe try and be more specific in your questioning of interviewees and you’ll get more specific answers. It’s obvious to me that you’re far more comfortable questioning your friends/people your own age more openly than you are acquaintances or perceived opposition- compare Lewis & Black with Corbyn & Hitchens, even McKellen seemed to make you a bit uncomfortable. I think you’re a bit ‘ageist’, in that you struggle with the inherited and inherent conservativism of elder generations. I do too, but I value it more as wisdom the older I get.

3: Policies are significantly different in that they’re not watered down in line with media moguls’ objections, expressed as attacks on his family, past and/or inability to eat in public, and the subsequent reaction of panicked SpAds. As likeable as he seems to be on a personal level my lasting impression of Ed Miliband is ‘Hell Yeah’, ‘If I’m Prime Minister’, a Code of Hammurabi style totem and an eminently more electable Russell Brand ostentatiously swigging water from a bottle like Jack Sparrow on rum. I voted Green as a rejection of five years meek capitulation to the Tory/media ‘It Woz Labour Wot Dun It!’ narrative that culminated in those xenophobic mugs in lieu of surrendering to the inevitable and offering an EU referendum. Just one example of policy distinct to MAY 2015 (FFS! How many policies did Ed have after a year in opposition?) Corbyn has resolutely defended immigration, and proposed pragmatic alternatives to knee jerk reactions and outright surrender (and if you have to ask what these proposals are you need to clean your lugs out) What I will say is that at least Ed didn’t have the temerity to put his f***** useless SpAds on the honour’s list (or maybe he did some? I’m unsure on this actually).

4: The media strategy seems to be going okay so far, considering it’s bears all the hallmarks of a guerrilla propaganda campaign. Despite overwhelming hostility from all angles Labour have lots of support (that apparently counts for nothing because you, Michael Foot & Neil Kinnock have spoken at big protests and haven’t been elected), plenty of activism (that you appear to discount out of hand, despite the facts of it being barely a year since Labour got their arses kicked and that no other party in England has a membership as large or motivated) and dominating political discourse in the media. No such thing as bad publicity, ask Sturgeon, Wood, Bennett and Farage- look for yourself, there’s membership surges, upset odds, misleading polls and fractured unions here, there and everywhere.

5: You answered your own question here. You really ought to listen more though. I’m a few months shy of the 44+ age range and I knew the things Corbyn said in your interview, although I do agree that the sentiments need fleshing out as policy and not just questions asked/interests represented from a point of opposition.

6: There can be no comprehensive strategy for Scotland. Thanks to Miliband, Murphy and Mcternan it’s lost to the SNP for the time being. My opinion is that coming third to the Tories (by default of seats lost, not Tory gains, an important caveat) a Napoleon strategy is the best bet. If Labour keep their powder dry while Civic Nationalists and Unionists fight it out a space for progressive ‘third way’ ideas will be emerge- then maybe proposing something along the lines of a federal Union and no opposition to Scotland’s continued EU membership might win enough votes to make a difference (although I’ve met strong opposition to this idea before, so in terms of actual policy I honestly don’t know).

7: In my admittedly limited knowledge of the Conservative voter- much of my opinion is based on the anecdotal- Corbyn is viewed as something of an eccentric and worldly Englishman with whom they largely disagree on domestic policy but largely agree with on foreign policy. I personally know Tory voters who have come to sympathise with the plight of the impoverished and disenfranchised, mainly, and ironically, through watching ‘poverty porn’ reality shows- a ‘more in common’ realisation seems to have overwhelmed the people in question, and they have a grudging respect for the left’s anti-austerity case expressed by people such as yourself. I think the support shown by Peters Hitchens and Oborne cannot be discounted either. Corbyn’s plan seems a reasonable starting point- Tory voters aren’t some irredeemably malignant force, as tempting as it is to say so at times. They will vote for what they think is fair, the problem will be convincing enough of them that redistribution of wealth to those at the bottom of the pile is both cost-effective and socially expedient. Pointing out that the wealthiest in society take up the lion’s share of the welfare bill- corporations and private landlords for instance- rather than ‘workshy layabouts’, ‘shirkers’, or whatever- and that investment and public ownership can be profitable enterprises that actual conserves the British way of life, rather than turning us into a police state, is an absolute priority. If I were a political strategist I’d try and portray Corbyn as a sort of unintentional Blair of the Eric variety- an internationalist and a patriot in the sense that he shows solidarity with workers the world over, promotes British interests over unpatriotic multinationals who homogenise culture for non-taxed profits and who has a love for the green and pleasant lands- explicitly expressed as motivation behind environmental and economic policy. Maybe proposing to make St George’s Day a national holiday would be a good gimmick, (although the jingoism unleashed by Brown’s Armed Forces Day offers a stark warning on that)? You used to come in handy for that sort of strategic thinking. Shame you’ve ducked out of the limelight now the opportunity for real and lasting change is so ripe.

8: I’m white and working class and live in an area that’s half Labour/half UKIP, allegiances often dependant on the issue, so maybe I can help here. For a start, Corbyn’s done more to address the issue of immigration in an open and honest way than all his contemporaries combined, and I’m glad you’ve acknowledged some of what he said, but it’s a piss in the ocean in the deluge of anti-immigrant rhetoric that has gone unchallenged over six years. Politicians who are willing to defend the immigrant position are few and far between and those who are do so from an apologetic ‘but we need immigrants for the NHS’ ‘but they’ve made a great contribution to our society since forever’ position and avoid discussing the impact on ordinary people’s lives entuirely. As a consequence most advocates leave the overwhelming impression that they have an unexpressed belief that the white working classes are uncivilised bigots who are too uncouth to appreciate the diversity on gentrified high streets they can’t afford to visit and on wealthy estates only liberal policy makers can afford to live on. I’ve spent years working in the community and for many the facts of ‘immigration’ are equal to the most impoverished and desperate ‘minorities’, transient refugee populations and the most disenfranchised and disaffected portion of the indigenous population being forcibly assimilated in slumlord ghettos. Literally social engineering as social policy. Corbyn’s ideas, highlighted many times in his barely covered pro-EU speeches, would go some way to removing the corporate push factors driving wages down and increasing immigration, tackling inequality and addressing the profound sense of injustice felt by many of those existing in underfunded and undervalued communities around England especially. Had anyone acted in the workers’ interests over the twelve years since 2004 accession the UK would have voted to Remain.

9: Having read your words for years- your demands for truly socialist Labour policies and a party that galvanised and mobilised the grass roots by actually representing their interests, I’m genuinely not sure what more you want Owen. A huge conspiracy to overthrow a socialist leader of the Labour party is ongoing, and thousands upon thousands of people show support online and on the streets and you’re suddenly dissatisfied and saying very similar things to what others said about the People’s Assembly, Stop the War, ‘cybernats’, UKIP, LeaveEU, Occupy, (Trews viewers ffs) and anything or anyone else that challenges establishment orthodoxy. I’m genuinely confused, and rather put out, by your recent reluctance to further the cause of the progressive left. seems to me this is exactly the sort of thing you’ve always advocated, but now you’re bottling it because of histrionics and hyperbole that was once directed at the message you promoted. I’d never call you a ‘Blairite’ or anything so insulting- you’ve done more for the left wing cause than most, more than me for sure- but I’ll be honest, this does come across as an act of betrayal borne of fear of getting what you thought you wanted, and/or that you’ve realised you never really wanted ‘people power’ or a peoples’ revolution because that takes the emphasis of you and/or because you see the masses as an unruly mob that must be culled, cajoled and controlled and that your position was always that of a so-called ‘liberal gatekeeper’. I’ve actually argued your case on these points against Class War activists, communists and anarchists in the past, but I’m beginning to think they had a point in some respects.

Conclusion: I understand some of your concerns, and agree to some extents, but maybe you’re the one having the existential crisis? Given the lengthy- and somewhat defensive/passive-aggressive- qualification of your position, maybe, to some extent, it’s because it’s not so much about you anymore?

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