It’s amazing they’re even calling him ‘Jeremy Corbyn’.
With the things being written about him, you’d think they’d stick to He Who Must Not Be Named or You Know Who. Because, apparently, the current frontrunner for the Labour Party leadership contest is Voldemort, and the Labour Party is being infiltrated by ‘hard left’ Death Eaters.
Jeremy Corbyn, a kind of token lefty candidate of the ‘Old Labour’ school, was never supposed to get onto the list of potential leaders. But he did. He was never supposed to have any real chance against the other candidates. But he does. In fact, he has enjoyed a phenomenal surge of support, with thousands of people reportedly joining the Labour Party specifically to vote for him.
This has all been portrayed as bad news, in both the Christian and mainstream press, with the slightly hysterical Sunday Times calling it a 'hard left plot to infiltrate the Labour race'. MPs voting for Corbyn were routinely referred to as ‘morons’ (a label coined for them by a former adviser to Tony Blair) in the paper. Corbyn was painted as a threat to a country if he led it and the man who would make Labour unelectable (something Murdoch’s paper would hardly mourn). He’s either a threat or unelectable. He can’t be both.
As a Christian, I believe that God has placed rulers and authorities in charge of us and I believe that, in a free democracy, if one has to choose between government running essential services (for the good of all people) and businesses running them for private profit (which will always skew benefits towards the rich), you should pick government. Because it means we all own or have a stake in the service, rather than just the rich. And Jeremy Corbyn wants to re-nationalise the railways.
As a Christian I feel a strong duty and desire to see an end to war and senseless killing, particularly on a large scale. I believe that every time a person dies without knowing Jesus it is a tragedy and I know that weapons of mass destruction make those sorts of deaths more likely on an apocalyptic scale. Jeremy Corbyn wishes to do away with nuclear weapons.
I don't want to turn this into a Corbyn Campaign Column, I just want to give some examples of how what he believes, while it may not be what you believe, is a perfectly legitimate position to hold. It is socialist, it is left wing, but it is not insane.
Some commentators have said that Corbyn's election would fatally weaken the Labour Party, and have focused on its ‘infiltration’ by people wanting to vote for Corbyn. Young people, Greens, Bennites, Communists, union members and Old Labour voters have all joined. Has there been rejoicing? No. There have been calls to halt the leadership race altogether. Because the wrong kind of people have been joining.
Just as only certain types of politician, who fall within a very narrow band of what is 'acceptable' politically (somewhere between right wing and centre-right, never a threat to big business or militarism), so, voters must conform. By the content of their beliefs, many in the Labour and media establishments have been suggesting that these people should not have a right to join a major party or vote for its leader. Well, that’s not how democracy works. If your argument is the wrong type of people are voting so we should stop the vote, you’re a fascist, not a democrat.
Corbyn's policy principles enjoy strong support from the public. He’s attracting new (or estranged) blood to the Party. He speaks his mind and doesn’t sound like he has focus-grouped everything he says. He publicly proposed ideas some people will disagree with. As comedian Mark Steel says, he actually disagrees with the Tories, while the other candidates feel honour bound to support Tory policy. He might actually offer voters a choice.
If Nigel Farage’s personal popularity in the last election (evidenced by UKIP’s implosion when he left) should have taught us anything, it’s that people respond well to a politician they believe is telling it like he sees it. A politician of principle. If Syriza’s initial victory in Greece tells us anything it is that parties of the left can still win elections, even without the used car salesman polished presentation of a Tony Blair or David Cameron.
You may not be left-leaning, or a Labour Party member, but the principles here are ones that all of us should care about. We should be allowed to choose our leaders – and those leaders should be more than puppets or clones. Even muggles know that.