Friday, 21 April 2017

Stand By Your Team - General Election 2017 (Week 1)

OK, so here we go again...

Even though we were promised fixed term parliaments of five years, to stop any incumbent government from calling an election any time and thereby gaining advantage when the polls were favourable, Teresa May has gone ahead and done it anyway.  All she needed was two thirds of parliament to vote for it and she knew she would get her wish.  Labour were caught between a rock and a hard place - if they voted against it, then they couldn't call the country's bluff and say 'bring it on'.

So in the few days since the election has been called it is already being talked as a formality by many - and not all those on the Right either.  Many on the Left are just as gloomy and want Corbyn gone. 'He's not leader material' I hear so many say. 'He's not got that oomph, that a leader needs'.  And in these days of slick presidential-style politics, they might have a point, even though they should be voting on policies and not leadership style.

But what they don't seem to realise is - if not Corbyn, then who? Who do they see in his place, these Labour naysayers who won't vote for Labour because of Corbyn?  Few of them can put forward a name of someone they'd prefer to Corbyn unless they are vehement supporters of New Labour.  But when New Labour became so indistinguishable from the Right, they moaned then too, didn't they?  They wanted someone more Left Wing. Many of them moaned about Ed Miliband not being Left Wing enough.

But what I really don't get is this.  Why ever would a Labour supporter not support Labour just because of Corbyn?  His ideas are hardly radical: build more houses, more affordable housing, save the NHS, renationalise the railways, redistribute wealth, look after the vulnerable, pay carers and so on.  What's not to like?  It's not as if people are voting for Corbyn anyway, unless they happen to be living in Islington. If you support Labour, then you vote for your MP who represents you in parliament. He or she may be to the Left of the Party or they may be to the centre but they will support the Labour ethos by and large.  If this was football, you wouldn't abandon your team, would you, just because you don't think like the manager.  You would give a new manager a chance to prove himself, wouldn't you?  You'd see if he delivers and gets the results that you want from your team. This election is too important for people to exercise a protest vote against Corbyn.

The media must be having a field day when those on the Left are doing their job for them.  What some people have quickly forgotten is that the Right Wing media nearly always attacks Labour leaders whoever they are - with one notable exception (more about that in a moment). The media attacked Miliband because of his father, because of his face.  The Tories run the media, they benefit from tax breaks and reduced corporation tax, and obscene salaries.  They don't want to redistribute wealth.  The odds are stacked against Corbyn, just as they were stacked against Miliband and against Neil Kinnock 25 years before. Here's a sobering thought - the only Labour government we've had since the 1970s is a New Labour government which had to cosy up to Murdoch and his cronies in order to be electable. So Corbyn has a nigh on impossible task.  He is perhaps canny to brand himself as the anti-establishment figure - seeing as such figures have done so well.  But usually these are Populist right wing figures and not on the Left.

So what other criticisms are levelled at Corbyn? 

 'He whipped the party over the triggering of Article 50,' they say.  'He should have done more.'  Another fair criticism, maybe.  But if he'd opposed the triggering of Article 50 then he would have been seen as scuppering the will of the people.  He was in a no-win situation.

But then we come onto the unfair and the downright ridiculous reasons not to vote Labour, filtered through the lens of a largely Right Wing media or the self-important on social media.

'Cornyn's a terrorist sympathiser.'  Really?!  The man's a pacifist, ffs!  He knows, as anybody with a few brain cells knows, that you don't get world peace by war-war, you get it by jaw-jaw. Like it or not, history has showed you have to engage with the enemy.

'He's anti-Semitic and most Jewish people don't like him'. Well, as someone with Jewish ancestry myself, that's another sweeping generalisation crushed by first-hand experience from family and Jewish friends who support Corbyn because they want a better world.  To criticise Israel isn't anti-Semitic, any more than criticising the Tories is anti-English.  

The graphic above shows just how important it is to vote.  People are tired - they have voter fatigue, having had the referendum last year, a general election the year before, and that's just in England! But Labour have a mountain to climb because they need Scotland to get enough seats to make a difference. Far be it for me to tell people which way to vote (as long as it's not Tory!) but I would urge everyone who can vote to do so. It's been shown that most people vote on things that affect them personally: jobs, wages, schools, hospitals, the NHS, affordable housing and rents, the environment, looking after the disabled and their carers and this is Labour territory.  Teresa May pretended to care about those left behind when she came to do her speech on the steps after Cameron's demise.  But what has changed?  Same old same old as far as I can make out.

Of course, it may be hard to get behind your preferred team, especially with our antiquated First Past The Post voting system which is outdated in a modern democracy.  This will mean that often people have to vote tactically, rather than with their conscience, to get the nasty party out. For instance, in the south west, Labour may do a deal with the Green Party so that instead of wasted tactical voting, the Green Party won't stand in those places where Labour are likely to win in exchange for areas where they stand a better chance. What matters at the end of the day in the FPTP system is to stop the Tories getting a working majority so that when they try and pass unpopular bills in parliament there will be enough opposition MPs to vote against.

Next week, I shall be looking at who is more likely to have policies safeguarding the long term sick and disabled. It may seem obvious but it is surprising some of the myths that abound online every day.


  1. Well said, Moggie. I also made the point in relation to Corbyn recently, "What's not to like?" Of course if you are Labour, you stand by your man, Corbyn or not.

  2. Just to clarify something. Even BEFORE the referendum happened both the Tory and Labour Party committed themselves to accepting the result. That was set as policy under Harriet Harman's interim leadership. It predates Jerry Corbyn.

    With that as the set policy there was no possible way for the current leadership to do anything other than back the invoking of the Article 50 Bill, aside from pressing for amendments to it. Which is precisely what they did, very nearly getting the amendments on EU citizens rights and on a further Parliamentary vote after negotiations through in the Lords after narrow defeats in the Commons. There really was nothing more that could have been done without being in government.

    1. Absolutely Eric. Good point and thanks for that important reminder.