The Labour Party has made 10 key pledges in response to the announcement of the General Election. They are progressive, positive and concrete. Among them: Nationalise the railways (to nay-sayers, look at the cost/productivity of our railways compared to European services. Germany, Switzerland, and France to name a few. Germany has ‘one dominant publicly owned train operator, and one publicly owned rail infrastructure manager. By comparison, the UK has 23 train operators and a hopelessly atomised infrastructure.’), commit and act on the Paris Climate agreement (one of the first things Theresa May did was to abolish the Climate change department), generate 1 million new jobs through investment projects, safeguard the NHS. You can find the rest here.
Now, to me, these don’t seem so bad. And I think most people reading this would agree that the economy and welfare of the society is at the heart of Corbyn and Labour’s policy. They have a direction and it’s forward. Interestingly, 74% of newspaper articles written on or about Corbyn do not accurately discuss his views or ideas – this figure is genuinely astounding. How can we properly judge a politician when the media refuses to deal in fact and policy – his politics is largely ignored, in political discussion this is outrageous misrepresentation. When did you last read an article discussing his policies? I can’t remember either. This study (linked above) identified that this is a growing trend in our media – we can see almost an identical treatment of the Labour leader Ed Miliband in the 2015 General Election. Do we remember his policy or vision for Britain? No. We more likely recall those hilarious pictures of him eating a sandwich, or cruel close-ups. I thought those kinds of pictures were for mates on their birthday, not for genuine articles by serious newspapers in the build up to a General Election. It makes me boil to think that we are treated this way – when we vote we are making serious decisions about our country, we are exercising democracy, it’s ridiculous that the media does not properly inform us. Instead we see our leaders ridiculed and bullied.
This isn’t me saying I think Jeremy will or can win this next election, I think that is extremely unlikely (but then so was Brexit and Trump). No, he won’t win. But do I think this is because his policies are wrong or irrelevant? No. He wants to introduce a minimum wage of £10, how dare he want to increase my crappy wage! Won’t stand for that. He wants to renationalise the railway – you know what that means don’t you? We may afford fares, inefficiencies may be ironed out (the railway system hasn’t benefited from lots of competition, there’s too many companies trying to make profit which leads to disunity in the system). The railway companies are now more subsidised than they were under British rail. Corbyn wants to generate 1 million jobs through investment projects in our infrastructure, schools and the NHS. Now in the short term this will cost money, but it’s the short term economic policy of the tory government that has led to crippling cuts in the public sector. Long term investment projects are far more sustainable, another of his pledges is investment in renewable energy, making the country greener and greener. These things are largely ignored though, instead the media criticise him for not singing the national anthem, or jumping on comments about wearing a suit. It’s confusing as to why this is relevant at all. Criticising a republican for not singing an anthem about a Queen is like criticising a fish for swimming. I imagine if he did sing the anthem passionately he would be criticised for not holding true to his republican values – shouldn’t we praise the man for having a backbone and sticking to his ideals and principles? Yes of course we should, especially when we look at Theresa May announcing a General Election after staunchly stating there would be no early election. A principled politician is a rare thing today. He is displaying virtues we would teach in our children – standing by what you believe even if it is difficult to do so.
Maybe he isn’t the best leader, or the type of leader the country is hungry for. I can’t argue with the polls – he isn’t doing well and is set for a heavy defeat, that much is clear. This doesn’t put me off though. I find it infinitely refreshing to find a man who isn’t a career politician, who has fought from grass roots for what he believes in, and in staying true to himself has ended up the Labour leader. I agree with what Owen Jones recently said of him; ‘He will lie awake at night thinking about these things’. Maybe you’ll say that isn’t enough, and maybe you’d be right. But can we honestly look at our politicians on the whole currently and say this of them? I’m not so sure, but then that’s a claim which I could never support. But it is interesting to think about nonetheless.
Another thing he has been heavily criticised on is his stance on defence. This is an extremely contentious issue, and it is so divisive that I hate talking about it with people as it always gets so heated. It’s one of those issues that most people have a strong opinion on. I agree that we should get rid of Trident. This article isn’t about that though and would take up a whole separate piece on the rights and wrongs of nuclear weapons, so I will leave the subject with this; Corbyn has consistently voted against movements to enter our resources in conflicts around the world. His foreign policy is peaceful, and this has a lot of merit. This voting pattern speaks volumes about him. He knows what he believes and stands by this, he fundamentally holds to humanity and a value of life. I’m not saying the opposite is true to anyone who thinks differently of course, but I admire the man for it regardless. We don’t have enough leaders brave enough to pursue options other than violence, which is potentially what is needed. In a world or Trump, Putin, and North Korea we don’t need an extra finger on the trigger. They can cause enough suffering between them. I would rather have a leader who would think long and hard about killing. And I mean seriously wrack his own beliefs and soul for a decision. If he ever did push a button or give an order, it would be never be lightly done. Maybe this doesn’t matter. But somehow, I think it does.
He is so often accused of being incompetent. But I would argue that his lack-lustre state and nervousness aren’t incompetency, they are signs of dejection. He won the position of Labour leader on a wave of positivity and optimism, yet from day one he was barraged with negativity and personal attack. What he thought was an opportunity for change was flawed by vehement opposition from all quarters. I can’t imagine anyone who could continue with passion after the strain he has come under. You cannot say that this is normal either, very few politicians at the moment are coming under quite as much fire as he is. I feel sorry him in all honesty. His face holds a look of someone who has realised that the dream he held to – one which had hope and care at its heart – simply won’t be received. When I tell people I like Corbyn I’m usually faced with derision, which is fine. But I’m proud to say that I support him, he’s someone I can believe in and stands for something I can believe in. He represents genuine change in the country perhaps further afield. When we all complain of the rise in right-wing politics across the globe, can’t we see the irony when we rail against someone who bucks this trend? He is a threat to the policies, economics, and status quo which are currently deeply established – these are the forces he cannot overcome. He won’t win, but not for the right reasons.