Firstly, of course, I am not supporting Corbyn. I’m supporting his policies.
He is there in the first place not as a personality, but as a placeholder for particular positions that were otherwise unrepresented at the time of his election as leader:
– an economic policy that rejects austerity and judiciously uses QE, as endorsed by world-leading economists
– a rejection (and reversal) of vicious welfare cuts that have injured the most vulnerable in our society
– a prioritisation of the NHS
– a rejection (and reversal) of tuition fees, on the basis that education should be free for all
– a serious address to environmental challenges
– appropriate caution prior to engaging in conflict with other countries, notably Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and against the expansion of NATO or retention of nuclear weapons
– defending civil liberties
– a commitment to improving the quality of life for those who are most in need, and taxation for those are currently reaping the benefits of capitalism
Angela Eagle, in contrast:
– Voted for the Iraq War, for strikes against Syria, and supports Trident
– Failed to vote against Welfare Cuts in 2015
– Supported the introduction of £3000 tuition fees, though voting against their increase
– Supported the introduction of ID cards
And er, what? Apart from the above, which is based on her voting record, she appears to have a marked lack of identifiable policy.
Don’t even get me started on Owen Smith.
When the PLP say that Corbyn is ‘incompetent’, this is in part code for saying that they think his policies make him unelectable. They are in favour of compromise. That’s all very well, but when it isn’t obvious what you believe any longer, then it becomes a little hard to convince anyone of anything. Having some conviction is at least a starting point.
One of my convictions is that in the longer term, knowing what you value, what you would like to achieve and what you stand for is a better strategy than trying to be all things to all people.
If there is insufficient appetite for Corbyn’s policies to ensure election victory – and I think for the time being, that’s indisputable – there is little evidence that his watered-down rivals would do any better. In fact, it was this watered-down version of the Labour party that diminished the Labour vote and there’s no sense that it is likely to win it back. To do so requires policies that will improve people’s quality of life, not empty gestures from someone in a suit.
Secondly, of course I am supporting Corbyn. He has withstood everything the media and his political opponents can throw at him with the most remarkable dignity and restraint. No one has been able to say anything worse of him than that he was too polite to the wrong people, and generally the sort of things they had against him were that he ate baked beans out of a tin, and so forth.
Meanwhile Corbyn has quietly been opposing the most vicious of government policies and helped to defeat the government on cuts to tax credits, disability benefits, the academisation of schools, won by-elections (sometimes with a significantly increased majority), increased party membership (and counting) and, oh yes, persuaded over 2/3 of Labour members to vote for Remain, a similar vote to SNP members (heralded as a victory for Nicola Sturgeon, while a calamity for Corbyn – 1% in it).
It looks like Leadership to me.
And if not him, then who?