I rarely comment on politics, as my silence, even on Brexit, shows. However, the current leadership row in the Labour party has me intrigued. That is, I started out being somewhat angry and frustrated because it seemed like a pointless distraction at a time when the country really needed to be holding together. However, as the situation has continued to develop, I find myself watching with increasing fascination over the way different people are responding.
The argument that has been given, repeatedly, by those who engineered the vote of no confidence, is that Jeremy Corbyn is not a leader. But what does this mean, I wonder? I mean, it’s been claimed that he has no vision. Yet, if the figures are to be believed, the public vote of confidence in him now numbers over 200, 000. That’s 200, 000 people who have caught this vision that he doesn’t have and are following him. Doesn’t that make him a leader? Well, apparently not.
One of the more major gripes has been his apparent indifference to the ‘Remain’ campaign in the lead up to the EU Referendum. This is interesting because the one thing that nearly everyone in his party seems to agree on is that he is a man of principle. So, surely, the next question that must be asked, if Jeremy is looking luke warm about a campaign, is which of his principles is the campaign not living up to?
Well, people have done this and come up with the stated purpose of the ‘Remain’ campaign as the obvious candidate. Clearly, Jeremy really wanted to leave!
Did he? Or could it possibly have had something to do with the campaign itself? For myself, I’d put a pretty good bet on it having something to do with theatrics and gimmicks and (dare I say it) possibly even lies that were all too apparent in the ‘Remain’ campaign. And I say this as someone who voted to remain, so it’s not about personal bias against a particular viewpoint. Rather, it’s about a method of campaigning that is all about trying to appeal to the voters rather than presenting a case with integrity. I would suggest, if he’s anything like me, that a man of principle isn’t going to sit easily with any such campaign.
It’s also been said that he ‘just doesn’t get it’ on immigration. Really? I’m quite sure Jeremy does ‘get it’. I’m sure he knows full well how some members of the public feel about immigration. But I suspect he also knows that (to put it bluntly) they are wrong about it.
The UK is a wealthy country and has (or had) one of the strongest economies in the world. That’s why people come here. They come because, in a wealthy country with a strong economy, they believe there is always going to be enough for them to be able to pick up a few crumbs off the floor, especially if they are prepared to work for them. In other words, they come because they believe there is already enough to go round. We know this because it’s been shown that immigration falls when our economy crashes and rises when it is stronger.
However, many of the folk in this country don’t believe there is enough to go round. They believe they have to fight for what they have. Hence they resent anyone else coming and getting it. And why do they believe this? Well, some of it will be because we have lost the industries upon which their livelihoods once depended. There are areas of the country where this is a real problem. However, at least in part, it will also be because that’s the lie that those with the wealth and the power would have them believe. They call it ‘austerity’ and they tell us it’s necessary. But this is always going to be a lie in a country with a strong enough economy to have an ‘immigration problem’ (as opposed to a refugee crisis). Somebody, somewhere, has got the money and presumably believe they deserve it. The ‘austerity’ lie is just a convenient means of ensuring that they hold on to it, with immigration being an equally convenient means of encouraging the population to point the finger away from them.
So does Jeremy ‘get’ immigration? I would suggest he gets it only too well, which is why he isn’t going to play smoke and mirrors with it like the rest of those in power. If there isn’t enough to go round, it isn’t because of the immigrants.
Then it’s been said that Jeremy is stubborn and won’t do the decent thing and resign. Excuse me? He is the elected leader and the elected leader has a responsibility first and foremost to the people who elected him. They are the people who must say if he is to step down. Until they do, as a man of principle, he going to hang on in there, whatever it costs. And, let’s face it, it takes a fair bit of courage to stand with a beleaguered cabinet in front of a Prime Minister who is determined to humiliate you and now has every excuse to do so. It’s not fun. But it’s what true leaders do. Call it stubborness if you like. I’d prefer to call it commitment and perseverance.
Finally, it’s been said that Jeremy is ‘unelectable’. Well, they may have a point there. But that’s got very little to do with whether he is a leader or not. It’s got much more to do with whether the country is willing to follow him, which is another thing altogether. Ask anyone what they look for in a leader and they will say things like, ‘Honesty. Integrity. Someone I know I can trust. Someone who cares.’ Well, it looks like they’ve got all those in Jeremy Corbyn. As I have said, nearly everyone in his party seems to agree that he is a man of principle and that the leadership row has nothing to do with his character. It’s about whether or not he’s electable. In other words, it’s about his policies – the things he is standing for. And that’s another interesting one. Jesus was a leader. But the people didn’t want to follow him so they killed him instead. Jo Cox was a leader – at least as far as her constituency was concerned – and it only took one person to kill her. In the end, it’s not about whether or not the person is a leader. It’s about whether or not we want to follow where they are going.
So, Labour MPs, The Mirror, The Guardian, the rest of the media and anyone else pointing the finger. Please stop telling me that Jeremy Corbyn is not a leader or doesn’t have vision. Instead, have the honesty and decency to admit that you don’t want to follow him.