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Why Jeremy Corbyn is just what we need

v2-JeremyCorbynCommentators are still adjusting to the shock of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour party in a greater landslide than the one that brought Tony Blair to the same position in 1994. As Nick Palmer points out, opinion on Corbyn splits into three camps:

  • People who agree with him
  • People who quite like the spirit of what he says but are sceptical about achievability
  • People who actively dislike him

But there are lots of reasons why anyone concerned for truth, justice and Britain’s long-term welfare should welcome Corbyn’s appointment, as it challenges some key features of the current political scene.

The closed shop

This is a widely observed fact. Just look at how the Cabinet is packed with chums from university—but the same has applied for some time to the Labour leadership as well. In both parties, the range of people involved has become narrower and narrower, and that has stifled debate and closed down political options. Despite his 32 years as an MP, Corbyn is an outsider to these circles—to which his struggle to form a shadow cabinet testifies eloquently. That is sure to bring a breath of fresh air into the political scene.

The corrupt practice

It is easy to over-state the level of corruption in British politics—and of course our situation is nothing like that of many other states around the world. But there are some shocking examples of the way the system works to the financial benefit of those in the system, and those around them—and they rarely gain any coverage. Last year, Maria Miller resigned as Culture Secretary in connection with her expenses claims, though never made any real apology. But around the same time,  something much more shocking was going on.

12015153_10153666375712148_6026264464209054191_oVince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, agreed the sale of the Post Office for what is generally reckoned to be £2 billion less than its proper market value. He did this on advice from seven banks, all of whom then had preferential options to buy shares as corporate investors. There was a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that these banks would not immediately sell their shares, but at least 50% of these shares were immediately sold to take the profit. One of the hedge funds that did purchase had immediately made £36 million profit; its director is one Peter Davies, who happens to have been George Osborne’s best man after getting to know him at Oxford University. It seems to me that there is only one expression to describe this kind of thing: utterly corrupt.

I cannot help feel a sense of deep distaste whenever I hear about the millions now being made by Tony Blair from his speeches and consultancy work—and this the person who was largely responsible for the instability in the Middle East which is literally making millions homeless and destitute. You could not imagine anyone more different from Blair than Corbyn.

The empty rhetoric

I would rate Prime Minister’s Question Time as one of the most embarrassing moments of our national life. The jeering and booing, the point-scoring and derision, the waving and taunting are about as far away from intelligent political debate as you could possibly imagine. Nick Palmer comments on Corbyn:

I voted for Corbyn for three reasons.

  • He starts with what I think are the right instincts – generosity, kindness and solidarity. It is typical that his first act as leader was not to mug up for a breakfast TV interview but to speak at a rally for refugees – another cause where we’ve been frankly nervous of what you might think.
  • He is not insistent that he’s always right: rather, he raises the right questions and invites a debate within and outside the party. Where most people don’t agree with him (as over leaving NATO, which he’s now dropped), he accepts that there’s a consensus with a different view and doesn’t try to batter it down.
  • He is entirely uninterested in abuse. I’ve known him for over 40 years; I’ve never heard him say anything bitter or unpleasant about anyone. If you liked my style of positive politics, you can expect a great deal more from him.

The blinkered commitment to austerity

Corbyn opposes setting an ‘arbitrary’ date for the elimination of the deficit, and believes that ‘quantitative easing’ (printing money) should be done for the benefit of the people, not the banking institutions. His views are much more in line with what was actually successfully implemented in the Great Depression of the 1930s, and many people think it makes economic as well as political sense.

Corbyn should be praised, not castigated, for bringing to public attention these serious issues concerning the role of the state and the best ways to finance its activities. The fact that he is dismissed for doing so illustrates the dangerous complacency of today’s political elites. Millions in Europe rightly feel that the current economic order fails to serve their interests. What will they do if their protests are simply ignored? (Robert Skidelsky)

The distant and complacent political elite

The establishment scratches its head: “How could …?” Well, let’s just check what the “serious” people have done for us lately: economic disaster with rewards for those who caused it and barely a gain for anyone else; foreign policy disaster with cack-handed interventions bringing instability and chaos; social disaster with poverty festering, family life foundering and inequality growing. If that’s what being “serious” gets you, no wonder people prefer the joker.

Jeremy Corbyn’s answers may be wrong, but many of his questions are right. Instead of patronising his supporters, the insular ruling elite and their allies in big business and big finance should realise they are the cause of Corbyn. I doubt that Corbyn-led Labour will introduce the more human world I want to see: markets made more competitive; democracy made more local; families boosted as the bedrock of society. But you never know… (Steve Hilton, former director of strategy for David Cameron).

The democratic deficit

It’s worth having a read of ‘24 Things that Jeremy Corbyn believes‘. I would agree that 3 or 4 of them are crackers—but the vast majority are sensible things that I would vote for—except that no current party offers them as an option. In fact, on nine important issues, Corbyn is bang in line with public opinion. Kate Pickett, co-author of The Spirit Level and co-founder of The Equality Trust:

I look forward to Corbyn continuing to change politics in positive and profound ways. He has already enthused countless young people and re-enthused many others who had become disenchanted with politicians in general and Labour in particular. The public will be able to vote for a leader who shares the values of the majority in opposing Trident (the first time they have been given this chance), renationalising the railways, ditching austerity policies, and more. They will be able to get behind a leader who wants to listen to them and extend democracy, rather than to someone who is more interested in focus groups and what the media think.

More than 80% of the public believe we should work towards a fairer, more equal society, and in Corbyn they would have a leader committed to making that happen. I look forward to a revitalised politics based on genuine engagement and exchange with people of all ages, gender, class and ethnicity – an engagement based on ideas and values not cynicism and spin.

11942138_10153635530709645_8079723819276849774_oPolitics has certain just got a whole lot more interesting. But I think it might just have become more attractive and democratic as well.


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40 Responses to Why Jeremy Corbyn is just what we need

  1. Ali Campbell September 14, 2015 at 7:29 am #

    Agree with all of that. As corrupt and prejudice as our political elite are the press. I could not quite believe the way so many (including BBC and The Guardian) handled the run up to the election and now, especially the BBC (maybe with the exception of Norman Smith) are ramping up tales of imminent split and this is a disaster . . .

    He will be hamstrung if he cannot pull together a stronger shadow cabinet. He has NEVER held any key office in his party is and is now the leader, there are excellent MP’s who deserve the same kind of chance . . . very disappointed at some of the key roles so far – but, will wait and see. Retaining Angela Eagle is good news but she should have been shadow chancellor.

  2. Vernon Ross September 14, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    Jeremy Corbyn ‘s victory has reenergised Labour as a mass movement, and there are many positives with that. I too want a more equal and just society,and he is definietely not one of the political elite, again more positives. My two concerns are based on:

    His attitude to business, in that we do need profit making entrepreneurship, the question is how we use profit, do we use it for social good or just for the case of profit? Many Quakers (eg Cadbury and Rowntree) give a good example. How do we continue to encourage growth in entreprenuership that has a moral and just heart, which allows human inventiveness to flourish and helps us become a more just society?

    The second is forgein and defence policy and while I fully support not renewing Trident, I do think being part of NATO and being willing to support the UN peace keeping efforts are not wholey negative and supporting these has implications on defence spending, including keeping it near to 2%. Bonhoeffer’s
    non pacifist approach has had for various reasons a big impact on me.

    But Corbyn’s election will at least allow these two issues to be well debated and that is exciting and positive.

    • Ian Paul September 14, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

      Sure…but I agree with him that Trident is a waste of time and money—and there are few who are prepared to say that.

      • Jonathan September 14, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

        But if we remain in NATO with no nuclear deterrent of our own we are effectively saying to the US we won’t have an umbrella but we will be happy to shelter under yours.

        • Vernon Ross September 15, 2015 at 11:48 am #

          I see your point, but not to renew Trident and still spend 2% of GDP on defence would revitalise out conventional forces and maybe say the following:

          1) We have the capabability, expertise and money to have nuclear weapons, but we giving them up because someone has to take that step first and say we want to rid the world of nuclear weapons. (also ultimately does not our defence and secuirty rest in God?)

          2) By enhancing our conventional forces, they will be better able to offer air/maritme/land defence to ourselves and western europe, counter terroism and also be of sufficient size that they are good to work in.

          3) Support UN peacekeeping operations more effectively.

          4) Help give stability to areas where trade routes are maritme choke points.

          5) Still be able to offer support in humanitarian crises as in the last 12 months we have seen the Royal navy heavily involved in rescuing refugess and provid medical and others upport in the Ebola crisis and now in the Caribbean dealing witht he aftermath of a tropical storm.

          This coupled with increased spending on the diplomatic service,I think would help us be more effective in working for stability and justice in the world. I guess the bottom line is if we are going to have armed forces they have to be of a certain size to ensure good quality and usefulness, hence around 2% would work. The alternative is not to have them at all. I think it’s either or and not some halfway house. So Corbyn interests me on this one, because at least we can have adebate on it.

  3. Martin Saxby September 14, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    There is a fourth camp, those who don’t agree with him!
    Revmartinsaxby.wordpress.com

  4. Paul September 14, 2015 at 11:30 am #

    Ian, I love your blog and appreciate your insights on matters of faith, so please keep up the good work…but when you decide to blog on politics I find myself scratching my head somewhat! I’m struggling to see how Corbyn’s election can be talked about in positive terms, not least for the party he now leads.

    Maybe we should think why he’s been an outside for so long. His views on economics and foreign policy put him well outside of the mainstream of Labour Party thinking, let alone public opinion. People claiming that he’s been unfairly attacked in the media should actually consider who is commenting. Aside from journalists, it’s mostly colleagues in the Labour Party who have worked alongside him for 30-odd years and know what he’s like in real life.

    Yes, he might come across as honest and refreshingly ‘nice.’ But the people he has associated with and the causes he has sponsored put him beyond the pale, particularly I should hope for Christians. One example – in 1984 the IRA attempted to assassinate the British Prime Minister and members of the Government. They succeeded in killing a number of high-profile members of the Conservative Party. A few weeks afterward, Corbyn invited members of Sinn Fein including Gerry Adams, then fully part of the IRA’s operations, to Parliament. Does this sound like a man who we would like to be a potential Prime Minister? He might be ‘different’ and untainted by expenses scandals, but he is morally tainted in countless ways which should make him completely unpalatable to all of us.

    • Ian Paul September 14, 2015 at 11:38 am #

      Paul, thanks for the encouraging comments!

      On the other questions, I address this explicitly in the blog I posted about corruption. I don’t make theological concerns explicit here, since the post was long enough already. But one of the striking things about Corbyn in relation to the current scene is that he perhaps challenges us to a reimagination of what might be possible. As many have pointed out, there is a mysterious consensus across ‘realistic’ politicians that the only way is austerity. But this is manifestly not the case, and the only reason for the ‘consensus’ is the closed shop of contemporary politics.

      Your example of talking to the IRA is an interesting one, not least because I am half Irish and my grandfather was a member of the original IRA in the 1920s. The repugnant strategy of Corbyn (ill judged in its timing) was in fact precisely the strategy that Tony Blair eventually adopted…to some acclaim.

      The issues I have mentioned seem to me to be important, not least from a theological/ethical point of view, and on many of these Corbyn (rather surprisingly) is the only person to be offering an plausible alternative—or in fact any alternative.

      • Paul September 14, 2015 at 11:57 am #

        Thanks Ian, I think I understand where you’re coming from. I still find your comments about an alternative to austerity puzzling though…It’s interesting that whilst people are claiming we’re suffering from austerity, overall public spending is still rising, not falling. Government spending on health and education is still rising, not falling, more than offsetting falls elsewhere.

        But more importantly, there seems to be an assumption that some people in politics are implementing austerity for ‘ideological’ reasons. Rather, it’s a just a fact that spending more than your receiving is a reckless way to run a country. A budget deficit, in my view, is not something that can be called compassionate or desirable. Borrowing money to pay for things we can’t afford is rightly condemned as something which we shouldn’t do personally, but for some reason is excused in the case of Governments.

        You speak about a ‘closed shop’ – I wouldn’t call it that, I’d call it the bounds of sensible economic policy. Of course people should be allowed to propose different economic policies, but the reason these alternatives to ‘austerity’ haven’t been tried is because they would clearly have disastrous consequences for our country’s economy.

        So if we believe that sound financial management and only spending what we earn is ‘austerity’ then that sounds to me like an equally ‘ideological’ judgement…

        • James Byron September 14, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

          Paul, another Paul, the economist Paul Krugman, argues clearly why austerity’s a terrible way to climb out of a budget deficit. Succinctly, spending cuts retard growth, leading to further recession. Austerity’s for when an economy’s running surplus.

          All governments “live beyond their means” via a national debt: it’s the essence of the modern nation state, and has been since the 16th century. Yes, governments can spend too much, and overextend the money supply, leading to inflation, but it’s not near as simple as the “live within your means” rhetoric makes out.

          The British Conservative Party, like the American Republicans, are driven by ideology, the market worshiping dogma of neoliberalism, which believes, on principle, that markets should be unfettered, and the state shrunk. It’s this dogma that caused the ’08 crash, and perpetuates its suffering.

          It must be fought.

          • Paul September 14, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

            James, thank you for your response. I admire your passion…but I would wholeheartedly disagree that Paul Krugman’s advice should be followed! He too is well outside of the economic and political mainstream in what he advises.

            I find it interesting that you are so excoriating about the Conservative approach. I think you may be making the common mistake of assuming one’s opponents must be wrong in their motives as well as their ends. It seems that many on the left cannot abide the fact that the those on the centre-right might want to achieve the same ends i.e. the flourishing of the individual, the strenghtening of society, the abolition of poverty etc. I’m passionately committed to all of these, as I’m sure you are, but would say they are achieved by means other than the ones you’ve suggested.

            I believe that the Government is often a barrier to achieving these ends, not a means. I believe that people flourish when given responsibility over their own lives. I believe that the answer to problems in society is not just to spend money from Whitehall.

            By all means we can disagree over the means, but please don’t assume that your opponents are unthinking and callous and self-serving.

        • Ian Paul September 14, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

          Yes, I would agree with James’ comment above, and I have linked to Krugman in other posts.

          Do look at my linked post on The Theology of the Autumn Statement, where I say more about this.

          Spending more than you are receiving is reckless. But austerity slows the economy and reduces your income as a Government, and that is why is has so far failed—and why the Conservatives suspended it, and ended up following exactly what Labour had proposed—which they said at the time was irresponsible.

          So it is far less straightforward than you suggest.

          • Paul September 14, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

            Thanks for the response Ian. I did read your Autumn Statement post and had to restrain myself from replying as was equally as indignant about what you’d written there!

            I think a lot of this is down to simple political disagreement, which is fine, but I was interested that you think ‘austerity’ has ended. If it’s ended, why are people still opposing it? In my opinion there is a huge amount more of public spending which needs to be cut as it is counterproductive and causes problems rather than solving it. I would point you towards the work of the Centre for Social Justice amongst others who have proved repeatedly that mass welfare invariably causes poverty and worklessness rather than solving it…but I suppose that makes me a ‘neo-liberal’ extremist In James’ eyes…

            It’s also interesting that the Labour Party was offering less ‘austerity’ at the last election, and lost by a country mile because voters didn’t think they were economically credible. Maybe they’ve got more sense than we credit them with…

          • James Byron September 14, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

            Paul, I don’t believe that neoliberals are malign; merely honest in their convictions, yet wrong.

            If you don’t hold to the belief that capitalism should be unfettered, and private ownership is automatically better than the state, I wouldn’t count you amongst their number.

            Reasonable people can, of course, disagree. I’m pretty centrist, all told: Bernie Sanders is to the left of me, let alone Jeremy Corbyn. But both adopt a pragmatic approach to economics, and I’ll take pragmatism over dogma, any day.

        • Ian Paul September 15, 2015 at 9:21 am #

          Paul, I think I am even more puzzled about your position than you are about mine.

          First, on health, the cost is rising because of two things. One is growing inequality—where there is a great rich/poor divide, free healthcare for the poor becomes more expensive. The second is technology; we can do more and it is more expensive. We spend comparatively little on healthcare compared with our European neighbours, so I have argued elsewhere that this should increase, not be capped, but needs a different funding model.

          The thing I find most puzzling though is that any Christian should suppose that making the poor poorer and making the rich richer is the only way of ‘sound economic management’ or a way out of the deficit.

          Really? You really think there is no alternative to this?

          • Paul September 16, 2015 at 8:31 am #

            Thank you Ian…I’m not sure I said that I wanted the poor to be poorer and the rich richer…maybe I’m missing something? I have immense respect for you and your blog, so please don’t mispresent what other people say Ian, it doesn’t do you or your argument any credit.

            It sounds like we’re just coming at this from different directions, which is fine, you’re entitled to your opinion and so am I.

            What I wanted to do on this post was to show that not everyone in the church takes a hard-left, redistributive socialist approach to politics as a Christian. I find it constantly amazing how so many people in the church espouse policies which have been tried and tested to destruction in this country and elsewhere, shown to create more poverty rather than solving it.

            Simply look at Venezuela. For Corbyn fans, you’ll know it’s one of the countries he’s supported most in terms of its economic and social policies. And yet look at it now. It’s a basket case in total freefall. Thankfully we’re nothing like it, but it’s an interesting case study in Corbynomics in action, and it doesn’t look good.

          • Ian Paul September 16, 2015 at 9:41 am #

            Well, the only versions I see at the moment of austerity as a solution to the debt crisis is doing precisely that—making the poor poorer and the rich richer. It is a consistent mark of countries that are following the US version of free market capitalism, and it is clearly having that effect in the Eurozone as well.

            If you are not happy with that, then I guess you are protesting against the current Government’s policy. On my previous post http://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/the-budget-policy-and-party-power/ I comment

            Just a glance at the the IFS graphic on the likely effect on different economic groups makes the impact of these changes clear.

            Is there anyone out there who voted for this Government who can look at this and not shudder? Is there any possible economic or moral justification for this kind of net change in a country with already accelerating inequality between the rich and the poor?

            It seems to me that Corbyn offers a critique of this which isn’t really present in other places.

            Are you aware of a fair implementation of austerity elsewhere?

          • James Byron September 16, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

            Paul, to counter your Venezuela example, how about the mixed economies of the Nordic Model, which mix strong welfare programs with a flexible market economy (“flexicurity”), or the German Model, which emphasizes close relationships between labor and management.

            Needless to say, both Scandinavia and Germany are runaway economic success stories. Germany’s running an €18 bn budget surplus! Even Iceland’s bounced back from a crash caused by, yup, implementing deregulation and other neoliberal doctrine.

            Neoliberalism and command-economies are two failed extremes. Pointing to one doesn’t endorse the other. A mixed-economy, supported by both Sanders and Corbyn, implements the strengths of both social security and free trade, and is the model proven to succeed.

          • Ian Paul September 18, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

            Thanks James. I entirely agree that polarisation is very unhelpful—not only in the discussion, but in real life. I would love us to become a place where labour and management could have a mature relationship—something I sought to learn about in my choice of business experience.

      • Adrian Beavis September 17, 2015 at 9:08 am #

        No Ian it was categorically NOT the same strategy adopted by Blair. Corbyn invited members of an active terrorist organisation, who were engaged in killing innocent civilians, into the democratic parliament (which they had also bombed in 1979). Blair only began talking to Sinn Fein when Major had developed very very very backchannel communications AFTER a cease-fire. Talks began only AFTER the cease-fire had held for a long time and Blair made it clear “If you let off one bomb I will never speak to you again.” Corbyn = you’ve nearly killed the British government, come and have a chat.

        Then look at his words about Hamas, Hizbollah, Putin, etc. etc. etc. Totally separate from the fact that he doesn’t seem to be aware how his actions alienate many people who could be open to his new approach (e.g. at the Battle of Britain service, which he must have known would have been noticed and take attention of the service, and if he didn’t he is not up to the job of Leader of the Opposition).

        There is a reason he was a backbencher for 32 years (many competent left-wingers made it to cabinet under Blair and Brown – Short, Prescott, Mullins, Cook, Meacher etc. etc.) – and there is a reason there was the movement #toriesforcorbyn.

        As one person, previously supportive of Corbyn has ALREADY said, “I didn’t realise he was such a loose cannon. He is dangerous to the country!”. Yes, this is from someone who SUPPORTED him!

  5. Chris Bishop September 14, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

    Is this the man who describes the death of Bin Laden who murdered thousands of Americans as a ‘tragedy’ – really?

    Perhaps Hitler was just misunderstood?

    • Ian Paul September 14, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

      Well I wonder how you would describe it. The US media portrayed it as a brave Special Forces action against all the odds—which was clearly a lie. Bin Laden was known to the Pakistanis, and the US knew that, so he could have been dealt with earlier by other means.

      I wonder why such lies are preferable?

      • Chris Bishop September 14, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

        What evidence do you have for that assertion Ian?

        • Ian Paul September 14, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

          “On May 21, 2015, journalist Seymour Hersh reported that the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had kept bin Laden under house arrest at Abbottabad since 2006, and that Pakistani Army chief Pervez Kayani and ISI director Ahmad Shuja Pasha aided the U.S. mission to kill, not capture bin Laden” Wikipedia. That’s 9 years!

  6. Chris Bishop September 14, 2015 at 7:40 pm #

    Hersch’s report cannot be verified and he has been misleading in other claims made against the US government, so I am not inclined to give it much credence. However, this is not germane to my original point.

    Corbyn regards Bin Ladens death as a ‘tragedy’ . His use of words seems to imply a moral equivalence with those whom he murdered. We now learn that he sees fit to appoint a shadow chancellor who wishes he could go back to the 1980’s and kill Maragaret Thatcher..

    And you trust this guy?

  7. Malcolm Cowen September 14, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

    Thanks for an interesting blog, and for interesting replies

    Corbyn has won, at least in my eyes, for two reasons:
    1, he is regarded by the left as their last hope to restore “true socialism” (though this is a label which can have many different meanings).
    2, He is clean of the muck which adheres to so many of all parties.
    – He is the man whose parliamentary expenses included a black and white TV, one local MP spent £3K on his TV.
    – He opposed Blair’s war.
    – He opposed PFI, which was from the start a corrupt and disastrous concept.
    – He supports renationalisation of the great monopolies: gas, electricity, trains, though I suspect the public’s reason have more to do with the perceived exploitation and lack of real competition than with socialist control of the commanding heights of industry.

    It will be interesting to see how he conducts himself at PM Questions. If he uses the opportunity to ask pertinent questions, rather than score cheap points he will get further respect.

    But in many ways it is not Corbyn who won this election, it is the present corrupt system which has lost it.

    Whether his policies will work is another matter.

    As for the debate on austerity, I fear the truth is getting lost in a fight between two extremes.

    It is nonsense to print money. The rich are mostly immune, their mansions and goods are safe and their money can be moved off-shore. The poor are probably so badly off that a bit more is just another turn of the screw, but the people in the middle, who produce most of the wealth will be destroyed. Remember Weimar.

    It is equally true that austerity has barely touched the rich. The top salaries paid to top people, who in many cases failed utterly to protect their industries have increased, not shrunk.

    And cuts may be the answer in some cases, but in others is not the complexity of Government and local government regulation and administration also a candidate for cutbacks. My tax return is now incomprehensible to me, how many more civil servants are employed simply to work an over-complex system. Attempts to block tax evasion merely increase government expenditure and hurt the small fry while letting the big boys (and occasionally girls) continue to merrily abuse the system. IR35 is a prime example where a small freelancer can be hit with a bill for £75K for alleged back tax (he won his case), but top people in public bodies who are clearly employees get away with claiming freelance status for £millions.

    Spending money may not be the answer either. If the money is spent on investment, then that can create jobs for the future. If it is just spent on social causes, then it will not create employment. It may be necessary to spend money on social causes for other purposes, for social justice and to prevent suffering, but that is another matter.

    Lastly Adam Smith’s name get thrown around. I wish both sides would actually read him, they’d find find comments like his views on the traders associations, both great and small, “People of the same trade seldom meet together, …, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

    I fear we have too many conspiracies and contrivances.

    • Ian Paul September 15, 2015 at 9:24 am #

      Thanks Malcolm–really interesting thoughts.

  8. Jonathan September 14, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

    Corbyn is actually reported to have said “it was a “tragedy” that Osama bin Laden was killed by the United States rather than being put on trial”.

    Does that not suggest that all of us no matter how bad our crime should be entitled to a fair trial. State sponsored assassination will not bring justice.

  9. Don Benson September 14, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

    I think that words like ‘austerity’ and ‘more spending’ that are bandied about in political and media circles are so vague that they are virtually worthless. These macro economic descriptions involve an integration of so many millions of micro economic decisions that they provide only the crudest of hints of what is really going on and little help in deciding how money might be better spent or not spent.

    You really need to get into the detail of how wealth is distributed, how much and where money should be channelled to promote production, how people can best be motivated to work productively, how many houses need to be built to stop overheating of that particular market.. etc. All these kinds of things can and should be constantly tweaked at a detailed level whether you are in deficit or surplus. It also has to be said that, in our capitalist system, deficit (and associated borrowing) hands more and more power to the money markets, which serves to suck wealth from the poor to the rich in society. So, while borrowing just to pay the bills is a very bad thing, borrowing for investment in productive capacity may be justified depending on the likely return.

    All of which suggests that huge economic gestures like quantitative easing, interest rate changes, sweeping tax rises or reductions are a pretty lazy and ineffective way of steering an economy towards a good place. Good times probably happen more because of benign global conditions or things like the North Sea oil bonanza or a sudden technological leap forward than the brilliance of any chancellor of the exchequer.

    But if Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership stimulates thinking around a more effective way of running our economy, that would be a very good thing, whether or not he personally has any useful ideas to offer.

  10. Anthony Archer September 15, 2015 at 12:23 am #

    You have missed out a very large ‘camp’ of people like me in your analysis. I neither like nor dislike him, but am hugely surprised that the disfunctional Labour Party has elected him. He has a mountain to climb, not least with the media with whom he is maladroit and clearly dislikes. Politics is about the art of the possible. He needs to learn that fast. Some of the younger talent he has appointed to the Shadow Cabinet look good, but the likes of MacDonnell will be eaten for breakfast by Osborne at the Despatch Box. It will not be a pretty sight!

    • Ian Paul September 15, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

      Engaging though Adrian is, this is a good illustration of the triumph of rhetoric over reason.

  11. Paul Linford September 16, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    Nick Palmer was wrong actually – opinion about Corbyn only splits into the first two camps. I know many people who doubt the achievability of his ideas, but no-one who actively dislikes him.

    • Ian Paul September 16, 2015 at 9:44 am #

      David Cameron? Boris Johnson? They don’t exactly sound friendly…

  12. John Darch September 16, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    Thanks for your analysis, Ian – I’m happy to agree with you 100%.

    By way of contrast the right-wing press has gone into overdrive with hysterical character assassination; how dare a leader of the opposition challenge the Thatcherite consensus which has evolved into something of a racket for the benefit of the ‘haves’ in our increasingly divided society. Those of us whose memory stretches back before 1979 will recognize many of Corbyn’s current ideas as standard Labour policy from that period. Much of the rest is a mixture of common sense and concern for the ‘have-nots’, refreshingly shorn of the self-interest that has dominated mainstream politics since 1979. His challenge will be to spread the vision and get others on board – starting with the Labour Parliamentary party!

    • Ian Paul September 16, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

      Thanks, John (and hello!). Yes, remarkable. What did we see today in PMQs? A significant change in culture. I also think there is going to be an interesting re-evaluation of the 70s—was the main problem union activity, or was it actually management incompetence and under-investment…?

  13. Alastair Roberts September 17, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

    John Milbank has an interesting essay on Corbyn here.

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