Whatever the outcome of the election for the leadership of the Labour Party, one thing is certain: whoever wins, the press will waste no time in vilifying him or her, just as they did with Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock, and Ed Miliband. So, since it's going to happen anyway, they might just as well elect Jeremy Corbyn: he does at least seem to believe in something.
The current Labour Party's problem is that they are no longer sure what they believe in: perhaps they haven't since the 1950s. It has been said of the major parties in the US that they both share the same fundamental principles, but that the Republicans claim to be able to run the country more efficiently and the Democrats more humanely.
Much the same now applies in the UK, though we can no longer be sure that the UK's Labour Party has even any claim to be more humane. Nothing illustrates their loss of confidence more than the failure to oppose the Tories' Welfare Reform and Work Bill, with its proposed cap on benefits to an arbitrary figure per family, regardless of numbers and need, and the removal of child benefit for any more than two children per family.
A fundamental principal of social security (not welfare, now a pejorative term) in a civilised society is surely that it should be based on need. To take the most obvious example, how can it possibly be justified that children should be plunged into poverty simply because their parents are careless, feckless, just unlucky, or maybe for perfectly genuine reasons (better gender mix, actually like kids) want more than two children.
In the parliamentary debate on the Bill I gather that George Osborne patronisingly taunted Labour's acting leader, Harriet Harman, that she could not rationally oppose his welfare cuts because they were supported by the majority of the public. Rather than responding that the majority of the public also support taking the railways backs into public ownership, so why doesn't he do that, Harman meekly caved in.
Labour seems to have forgotten that one of the main functions of a political party is to campaign, educate, explain to, even enthuse, the public on its policies. If elected leader, there seems every possibility that Corbyn will do this, rather than simply follow the passing whims of focus groups.
If the term "left" is now seen as a term of abuse it is worth looking at Corbyn's policies and assessing them on their merits. According to his website he:
- sees government austerity as "a façade for the same Tory plans;"
- would borrow to invest;
- wants the fortunate to contribute more;
- regards the Tories' pitch for a "Northern Powerhouse" as so much hot air;
- advocates public investment in a publicly-owned infrastructure.
And of course, like the Liberals, he voted against the Iraq war.
I get the impression that that he is an honest and principled man, untainted by the triangulations of the Blair government, who will make a good fist of confronting the disingenuous Cameron at Question Time.
Indeed, on the face of it he seems just the sort of chap we Liberals could work with. Under his leadership maybe a re-alignment of the left would be possible. I wonder what his views are on proportional representation by single transferable vote in multi-member constituencies?