You see – people like me have waited a very long time to see a socialist case being presented nationally at the ballot box. If Jeremy Corbyn MP is not your cuppa as the twice democratically elected leader of the Labour Party, I hope that you’re able to use your vote wisely.
On the night of the results presented by David Dimbleby, I would much rather a Conservative seat fall to the LibDems or Greens, than not at all. I feel the loathing of Tim Farron MP tapping me on my shoulder, but I have nothing against Tim or his party. Indeed, I follow Tim (@timfarron) on Twitter, and he follows me. I think it’s true that many people will be going into this election feeling that the LibDem is fundamentally a good partner who’s had a period of ‘cheating on you’ – whether that was in welfare benefits cuts (introduced the outsourcing of benefits assessment in the first place), turboboosting privatisation through the Health and Social Care Act (2012) (rampant in the latter years of Tony Blair’s government, when Blair coincidentally was aiming to be President of the EU and competition law was a central plank of the free movement policy), or tuition fees (Labour are not innocent here either).
If you strongly believe in membership of the European Union, and you feel ‘left of centre’, then it’s not a bad thing if the Liberal Democrats can act as a brake for a Conservative administration anyway. I feel that this would be an ideal outcome for Tim Farron MP. Do it if you have no problems with Tim Farron MP becoming the new Nick Clegg, or the new Deputy Prime Minister. For all the bravura of the LibDems in parliament, causing the ‘strong opposition’ which Theresa May claimed caused her to trigger this snap election in the first place, unbelievably all 9 MPs have voted three ways on the EU.
And parliament has not in any way (nor the House of Lords) “obstructed” the progress of triggering of Art. 50, as claimed by Brexit dinosaurs such as Lord Michael Howard. In fact, many pro European Union voters, whether in the Labour Party or otherwise, feel that the opposition to triggering Article 50, knowing that Brexit is likely to be a cataclysmic disaster, could and should have been much stronger.
As a purely technocratic exercise —— I can understand why, with his constituency seats evenly divided between ‘remain’ and ‘Brexit’, why Jeremy Corbyn MP has led his party not to oppose Brexit. I can see why Jeremy Corbyn can see ‘positives’ to Brexit: i.e. it gives license to protection of important rights in law, such as in environment or employment, which otherwise get ‘grandfathered’ in a corrupted, Tory, way; it allows state aid to ailing and flailing industries not as easily possible as under EU membership (such as the steel industry). But that’s not to say that Brexit comes with it colossal problems – such as severely hampering skills mixes for certain sectors (not just Starbucks Baristas, as the stereotype goes, but for people in the NHS and social care), import inflation, lack of influence in EU policy, problems in not being in the single market (and under Theresa May voluntarily not being in the customs union). But it’s been Theresa May’s call on this – so the buck should stop there.
The timing of this election took everyone by surprise, not least the Cabinet who mostly heard of the idea for the first time after the Easter break. The news has gone down so well that Theresa May’s junior experts in comms have resigned. The prospect that the prices will outstrip wages, a phenomenon already known about by ‘hardworking’ nurses in the public sector, this year is already going down like a bucket of cold sick. So the election campaign already has the grubby fingerprints of Sir Lynton Crosby on it. And ironically, the ‘secret weapon’ in this war against Corbyn, proclaimed so emphatically by Lord Peter Mandelson who boasted how he was working daily to oust Corbyn, has gone kaphhhhhttt. That is, the sneering of the 172 Labour MPs. Crosby has clearly directed that attacks on Corbyn should not be too strong, as otherwise the perception is of victimisation, bullying and a hate crime. As it happens, when I ask certain people why they dislike Corbyn so much, the answers are split down the middle in ‘He’s incompetent’ and ‘Others think he’s crap’ – the universal, consistent lack of reasoning why they dislike Corbyn, with the odd reference to his shirt or tie, unfortunately leads me to think this is at best snobbery at worst blatant age discrimination.
So when Theresa May trotted out the back story of 3 Labour MPs who had made disparaging remarks about Jeremy Corbyn, the impression of those in the Lobby was not ‘wahey!’, but a feeling that this particular attack from May and Corbyn was nasty and vindictive. In other words, May and Crosby had overplayed their hand. And when Jeremy Corbyn gave a strongly anti-Establishment speech in Church House shortly afterwards, Corbyn singled out ‘cartel’ (he meant ‘collusive’ strictly speaking) behaviour between powerful individuals, multinationals and the media, not giving him a fair hearing. And there is indeed ample evidence for this. So, it was very early on in the campaign that the mainstream media knew full well that they had blood on their hands. No sooner than Newnight had run a party political broadcast on behalf of the Mr Theresa May party was Twitter awash with the alleged financial activities of the firm which extravagantly wealthy Mr Theresa May has worked in and their tax affairs.
The line that if you do not support Theresa May’s version of Brexit, which is the most hard core version of Brexit you could have dreamt up, you’re somehow unpatriotic is a very unpleasant line for May and Crosby to sustain. This of course plugs a sentiment into the personal vilification of Corbyn, at best unable to nod correctly for the National Anthem or kneel and kiss properly for his induction for the Privy Council, at worst runs the meme that Corbyn’s ‘best friends are terrorists’, of being deeply unpatriotic. Of someone who HATES Britain. Of course we have been down this route with the horrific attacks on Ed Miliband’s late father, Ralph Miliband. And talking of which – Rafael Behr has consistently attacked everything which Corbyn stands for, not laying a finger on the Conservatives, sneering that if Ed Miliband had been unable to make inroads it would be unlikely that Jeremy Corbyn could. This is of course to ignore completely that England is on its knees and is in crisis over NHS, schools and social care. And to remind Mr Behr – was it the case that an ‘effective opposition’, so beloved of him and his colleagues, were ABSTAINING on disability benefit welfare cuts which are the lifeline of disabled citizens? Even if Rachel Reeves didn’t get it or sympathetics in the Guardian, Debbie Abrahams MP certainly ‘gets it’, and is taking this fight at last full on much to the delight of people in the ‘WOW petition’. And John McDonnell MP, who is never reported as having successfully run London’s budget for years, has been instrumental in upholding the rights of people who are disabled – like me, and I know.
So we already know that the policy suggestions, e.g. on housing or the living wage, are popular with many people on the Left, not just a select group of Tony Benn supporters or CND hippies who are caught in a 1983 time warp. The 2017 Labour manifesto has not even been published yet, and yet Nick Robinson has already gone on record in making a highly biased prejudicial remark against Corbyn. We know that the policies themselves are popular, if not badged up with the descriptor ‘They’re Corbyn’s’ – but this is the effect that the media and the 172 Labour MPs have had in successfully rubbishing the Labour brand. Alastair Campbell, who is licking his lips at any demise of Corbyn, such that he felt the urge to pretend to be a psychiatrist measuring the affect and cognition of Owen Jones for GQ magazine, and Tony Blair have never been able to state with any clarity what they feel the legacy of New Labour could’ve been or should’ve been – and have openly said that they feel hostile to Ed Miliband and successors for being negative about aspects of Tony Blair’s government such as the highly controversial manner in which we went to war with Iraq, or creeping NHS privatisation through putting PFI on steroids, etc.
Whereas in 2015, Crosby was going round telling everyone ‘don’t vote for Ed Miliband as he secretly wants to get into bed with Nicola Sturgeon (politically)’, Crosby can’t quite pull off the same trick in 2017 – as his campaign relies on Corbyn being universally toxic. Even Sturgeon has said that Corbyn has no chance of becoming Prime Minister, which has just made her appear like an arrogant tinpot dictator worthy of Dr Strangelove. Scottish voters of course have the option of voting for SNP in the hope of another Scottish referendum, when quite frankly the economic case is unsustainable and Scotland has more pressing domestic issues of policy – and getting loads of SNP MPs in Westminster acting as barracking but ubiquitously ineffective MPs, or they can overcome their dislike of Kezia Dugdale and vote Labour despite the toxicity of the New Labour brand. The stranglehold of the SNP over Scottish politics is unlikely to last forever, and you can throw any accusation at Jeremy Corbyn – but the notion that ‘Jeremy Corbyn is more of the same’ is quite frankly ridiculous.
So – for a number of reasons, the Crosby May plan has already gone badly wrong. A major factor in that has clearly been that the months spent rubbishing Jeremy Corbyn has had the unintended effect of lowering expectations concerning Corbyn that anything he does is frankly quite amazing. And the cumulative effect of those MPs automatically getting reselected to defend Labour’s policy offering, i.e. no ‘trigger votes’, means that bitter people like John Woodcock MP cannot say with heavy heart he is being forced to be a MP under a Corbyn manifesto. My advice to him is – if he doesn’t like it, don’t do it. Nobody will allow Woodcock to behave to all intents and purposes like a spoilt brat ‘independent’. Woodcock is currently standing on the cliff edge, like several of his colleagues, of warranting disciplinary proceedings if they cannot be loyal to the Labour Party?
My viewpoint is that, even if you hate Corbyn, the next few weeks will be fun. He is coming at this as the ‘underdog’ – but an underdog with loads of experience, who would ‘wipe the floor’ with Theresa May in any TV hustings. May’s team might be able to force people to say ‘no comment’ to the media at her public events, but May is giving every appearance now of cutting and running. She looks and sounds wooden, and her record in being able to keep immigration levels down and not being able to resist a ‘snap election’ speak for themselves. This is May’s election to lose. The only direction for this colossal poll lead, as everyone knows, is down.
“Strong leadership”? My arse.
Theresa May would like you to think her lying to you multiple times is ‘strong leadership’. Don’t be so gullible. pic.twitter.com/qCBZhGYG5Y
— Dr Shibley Rahman ❄️ (@dr_shibley) April 22, 2017
And while everyone has tried to make the Corbyn brand so toxic they have blatantly reared a generation of ‘shy Corbynistas’ who do not want to reach at the sight of May’s repackaged Thatcherite offering on May 8th 2017.