Monday, 14 September 2015
Corbyn: the distortions start here
Barely had the announcement of Jeremy Corbyn's stunning victory in the Labour leadership election been made than the Tories were on the airwaves with their demolition ball:
"Labour are now a serious risk to our nation's security, our economy's security and your family's security."
I believe this was originally an obviously carefully prepared "tweet" from David Cameron, and it has been repeated ad nausiam by the (carefully chosen?) Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.
In an earlier post I have discussed an article by Jonathan Freedland which describes the Tory PR department's tremendous skill in coining simple and attractive phrases to convey their message, however misleading, or downright untrue, the message might be. That above is an excellent example.
Claiming that Corbyn's election is a threat to our economic security is a bit rich, to say the least, coming from the party whose policy of deregulation caused the crash in the first place, whose policy of "expansionary contraction" failed in its two prime objectives (preserving our AAA rating and eliminating the deficit within one parliament) and resulted in the slowest recovery in modern times, whilst running, and still running, a record and unsustainable balance of payments deficit (far more serious than the much publicised government internal expenditure deficit.)*
As for our families, those dependent on benefits have their security not just threatened but removed by the present government's policies, especially if they have a spare bedroom. And even for the well heeled, there are calculations by respected economists that the reversal of the recovery, under-way when Labour left office, by the "expansionary contraction " policy, has cost the average family some £4 000.(see Mainly Macro, 15th February and 17th April).
But these truths are not what the clever Tory quote implies, and they are not what is reported and commented on by the right-wing media (or even, alas, the "impartial" BBC.) Rather than standing to one side in carefully contrived balancing acts, Labours sulking former front benchers should be storming the studios and ensuring that the facts are told.
The accusation of the threat to national security is more arguable because it depends on assessments of hypothetical situations. The case for the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent has been admirably put by "Anonymous" in his comments to an earlier post. It can equally, and in my view more plausibly, argued that the British deterrent is now an irrelevance and that, if the cost were transferred to more and more effectively equipped conventional forces, these would make a greater and more appropriate contribution to the creation and reservation of word peace. Similarly the benefits of our continued membership on NATO, created as a response to the cold war, are debatable. The French left it and have survived intact. Leaving it would be no guarantee that we would cease to coat-tail the US in their military adventures, though that would be less likely under Corbyn.
It may seem a cheeky comparison, but it seems to me that there are parallels between the euphoria created by Corbyn's victory and the "Gleggmania" which followed the first Leaders' Debate in 2010. Gleggmania evaporated in a couple of weeks, and, rather than gaining we Liberal Democrats actually lost seats.
Corbyn has created a new and exciting atmosphere. Rather that squabbling and thus giving the Tory PR machine free rein, Labour's "big hitters" need to get out and about and explain and support Corbyn's many perfectly credible proposals.
And Tim Farron and his band should join them.
* For an informrf assessment ( published today)of Labour's economic record whilst in government, see: