Thursday, 29 September 2016

All progressives should get behind Corbyn

 The Labour Party conference has resounded with repeated calls for unity behind Jeremy Corbyn, now re-elected as leader with an even bigger share of the vote than last year.

 Not only should Labour's MPs heed the call, but the rest of what I'll call for want of a better name the "progressive left" should get behind him as well.

Just over a year ago, when Corbyn first was first elected leader with the overwhelming support of party members, the BBC published a list of "24 things that Jeremy Corbyn believes."  You can see the full details here, and here's a summary (my comments and reservations where necessary, in brackets):

  1.  The [internal government] deficit should be reduced "not through spending cuts and not by an arbitrary deadline" but by raising taxes etc.  Half marks.  This deficit is not all that important and will reduce itself if and when the economy revives.   Giving internal deficit reduction too much priority has delayed and will continue to delay our recovery.
  2. Renationalising the railways. Yes yes, and he's against HS2 as well.
  3. More allotments. Very worthy: great for those who like that sort of thing.
  4. Talking to all groups, even militants, to win peace in the Middle East.  Common sense: has had to be done to resolve most conflicts, eg in colonial  disengagement  and in Northern Ireland.
  5. "Quantitative easing for people." Not too keen on this.  QE is a fanciful and ineffective fad.  Directed government expenditure on the infrastructure etc is a better alternative.
  6. No replacement of Trident. Absolutely.  There is no rational case for it.  Replacing it is purely a misguided  attempt to retain prestige.
  7. A National Education Service. Not too keen on the "national" implications of this.  However, he is keen to restore responsibility for all state-funded schools to local authorities
  8. No support for air strikes in Syria. The better approach is to try to cut off arms supplies to IS.   Yes.  Our military interventions is this and other conflicts had done incredible harm and very little, if any, good.
  9. Rent controls should be re-introduced.  Yes, yes. 
  10. The Chagos islanders should be allowed to return.  Yes, yes. Other people's human rights should not be sacrificed to accommodate the US.
  11. A liberal and rational policy on immigration to replace the present "unpleasant" debate.  Yes indeed.  Our failure to share in the proper reception and resettlement of refugees and asylum seekers is a national disgrace.
  12. A diplomatic resolution to the Falklands dispute. Long overdue. Could and should have been achieved in 1982.
  13. Property speculators are forcing the closure of pub in London. Probably elsewhere as well.
  14. An arms embargo should be imposed on Israel.  Yes.  They're in contravention of UN resolutions.  Embargo should apply to Palestine as  well.
  15. He's a committed republican. So logically should I be, but if by any chance I did something brave and were awarded a medal, I'd rather get it from a Windsor than Tony Blair, David Cameron, or any other failed politician.
  16.  Remain in the EU, but with changes.  Yes.  He gave it 70 to 74%, which is a fair assessment (and would give you a first class honours degree in even our poshest of universities.
  17. Backs cycling. So do I, but not for too far.
  18. Energy companies should be under public ownership.  Yes.
  19. Ireland should be united.  It probably will be eventually, though we shouldn't rush things.
  20. A national maximum wage.  Yes: no more that 10x the minimum? 
  21. Every child should have the chance to learn a musical instrument.  Yes, yes, yes.  A recipe for a lifetime of enjoyment, and far more valuable than the obscure things they're now required to learn about English grammar.
  22. PFI deals should be ended and existing ones "bought out."  Yes, yes yes.  They are a disgrace and should never have been introduced.
  23. There should be "a serious debate about NATO."  Yes, we need to consider its appropriateness and relevance in the present circumstances.
  24. The arms trade should be restricted. Yes, yes yes, long overdue (and our reliance on it for our "prosperity." )
So, whilst not wishing to dot every i and cross every t, there's enough in the above around which we in the Liberal Democrats, plus the Greens, and most of the nationalists, could unite.  It has vision and could lead us towards a society in which we could be proud to be members.  The mechanics of a "progressive alliance" I leave for the moment to the political apparatchiks, but they need to be thinking of it now.  At the very least we should stop being rude about Corbyn.  Every time we are, or repeat the mantra that he's "unelectable," we play into the hands of the Tories.

The alternative is yet another decade or more of a society that locks itself off from the rest of the world's problems, demonises our own less fortunate citizens, dismantles the public real in favour of private  profit,  panders to the already rich, promotes absurd inequalities, secures its powers  through unacceptable surveillance and is cavalier, even contemptuous, of human rights.


  1. This all looks very sensible and rational. Difficult to understand why Corbyn gets such a hammering, even in "left-wing" papers like The Independent and The Guardian.

  2. I agree. I find it incomprehensible, and the more often they say he's "unelectable" the more likely that becomes. Polly Toynbee is a key culprit, and she was a founder of the SDP. You'd think she'd be falling over backwards to be "on side."

  3. Every child should learn a musical instrument?
    One set of islanders to return, Chagos but Falkland Islanders are stuffed. Israel bad, Arab thugs,OK.
    Until I read this I was giving JC the benefit of the doubt. Much I can agree with, but there are too many 'trendy' dreams.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Jack Ryder. I don't think you're being quite fair. The 24 issues cover a wider than normal range so do indeed include some "trendy dreams" among the "hard stuff."

      I regard the suggestion of every child having the opportunity to learn a musical instrument as a serious contribution to the education debate. I wish I'd had it. A must better foundation for a full life than some of the nonsense that's being crammed into children's brain today, soon to be forgotten.

      The Falkland islanders are not to be "Stuffed": just a diplomatic solution to the dispute to be sought (something that was on the cards well before the 1982 conflict.)

      "Israel bad, Arab thugs OK." is a generalisation too far. Some of the actions of the Israeli government are illegal, so arming it should be seen in the same light as arming Arabs.

    2. In all my working life I am afraid it is the 'trendy dreams' that have detracted many activists away from the real working class. The Brexit vote was an opportunity for this ignored class to make their point, and they did.

      As for education every child should have the opportunity to do a lot of things; play an instrument, knit, sew, carve, cook, make, assemble....

    3. In all my working life I am afraid it is the 'trendy dreams' that have detracted many activists away from the real working class. The Brexit vote was an opportunity for this ignored class to make their point, and they did.

      As for education every child should have the opportunity to do a lot of things; play an instrument, knit, sew, carve, cook, make, assemble....

    4. There's no harm in trendy dreams, with recognise that there's more to life than just getting richer.I agree that the Brixit vote was an opportunity for the "ignored" to make their point, though regret it will probably turn out to be self harm.