July 22nd, 2015


Corbyn Sat Upon a Tree, Large and Black as Black Might Be

We're quite a few weeks into the Labour leadership campaign now, and I've still to hear any of those opposing Jeremy Corbyn explain exactly what is wrong with his policies. Instead, there's been:

a) a lot of vague handwaving about how he would be taking the party "backwards" from the new true blue future (Tony Blair) and how the MPs who nominated him are "morons" (John McTernan).

b) some huffing and puffing about people who support him "behaving like a petulant child" (Chuka Umunna), or being too young to understand grown-up issues - as expatiated on by Roy Hattersley on The World at One today:

Edward Stourton: What do you think is the appeal of Jeremy Corbyn?

Roy Hattersley: To young people? Young people who haven't thought about it? [Note that Stourton hadn't actually mentioned young people.] I don't want to patronize them but they've not gone through the difficulties we've gone through in the last thirty or forty years.

(You suck at not patronizing, Lord Hattersley - but nor did you go through what young people are going through now, forced into huge debts to get an education, denied benefits, priced out of housing, etc. Are you surprised they don't see why that's a worthwhile sacrifice to keep you in ermine?)

c) and, of course, a general murmur that the electorate have become so right-wing that even if Corbyn's policies are coherent and just (which a neutral observer might reasonably conclude, given how studiously his opponents avoid talking about them), the electorate is too selfish and bigoted to vote for them.

None of this makes the Labour Party - or at least its right wing, whence I think it's fair to say almost all the petulance has emanated - look good, or indeed anything but contemptuous of those whose support it most needs. In fact, hearing Tony Blair today I kept being reminded of the following passage:

“Tender as my years may be,” said Caspian, “I believe I understand the slave trade from within quite as well as your Sufficiency. And I do not see that it brings into the islands meat or bread or beer or wine or timber or cabbages or books or instruments of music or horses or armor or anything else worth having. But whether it does or not, it must be stopped.”

“But that would be putting the clock back,” gasped the governor. “Have you no idea of progress, of development?”

“I have seen them both in an egg,” said Caspian. “We call it ‘Going Bad’ in Narnia. This trade must stop.”

“I can take no responsibility for any such measure,” said Gumpas.

“Very well, then,” answered Caspian, “we relieve you of your office.

It's a measure of how far British politics has drifted that C. S. Lewis's conservatism can now be recruited in support of Jeremy Corbyn.