I’ll be the first to say that Comrade Corbyn stands for nearly everything I disagree with. What I commend him for is his mastery in harnessing the disgruntled voices of Labour voters and much of the country and turning them an electoral coup against the New Labour old guard.
Yet it is how the Tories have twice reacted to him, and not that which he stands for, which is wrong with politics today and precisely the reason he ascended to the Labour leadership.
First, he’s guffawed at by everyone right of the far-left; written off a rickety left-wing looney who’s sat on the back benches for thirty years haw-hawing and voting as he pleases. He’s called the less fun Dennis Skinner, an heir to no one because he’s never aligned himself with anyone but his own conscience. You even had his now predecessors, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, saying that: “Labour has rediscovered losing” and that under Corbyn, Labour would be relegated to being a “party of protest”.
He was considered the Tory preference, the Michael Foot-incarnate who only had to stand up and look scruffy to be deemed not fit to be prime minister. You also had widespread reports that there was a Tory infiltration that joined the Labour party to vote him up the greasy pole.
Three months later, a resounding victory (he won a bigger landslide than Blair did in 1994) and you have the Tories’ treating him like an Oswald Mosley. The campaign poster that followed his election (first emailed to supporters) was ludicrously hyperbolic, not least because the party had treated Corbyn as a good laugh and an electoral godsend for 2020. How can you laugh uproariously and pray he gets elected one day and decry him as a “danger to national security” the next?
Today we have a new attack advert from the Conservatives that could double as a new trailer for Spectre. You A dark, menacing soundtrack and ominous warnings of what Corbyn represents is not only preemptive but wholly over the top.
Does all of this serve the purpose of telling us that Corbyn and Co. are a danger and a liability? No, it tells us about the arrogant malaise of this government and the creeping American strategy of attacking and discrediting your political opponents on an industrial scale.
Remember when Cameron once called for the end of Punch and Judy politics? Remember that we laughed? Corbyn actually has the determination and the opportunity to go to the Commons with a real disposition for change. He’s already calling for PMQs to be submitted by the public. Whether or not he reneges and starts mud slinging is a different matter. But for someone who conducted his campaign on the issues, about the issues, and for the issues without being drawing into character shaming, his reward, at the very least, should be an acknowledgement by friend and foe alike that his election deserves the opportunity to create change for how we conduct politics.
I’m not a Corbynite. There are criticisms he levies which I agree wholeheartedly with but we differ on the solutions. But the Conservatives have no right, no right, to condemn him as a loon one day and decry him an elected dictator who’ll ruin us all the next. It is the politicking arrogance of the worst kind; unbecoming of a government and shameful of a British one.
Corbyn has won his platform and he should be respected as the Leader of the Opposition and, in the best spirit of the place to which he has been sent to perform this duty, he should be accorded the recognition of at least attending his first PMQs before he is denigrated as a charlatan and hypocrite. If he is to be called a danger let it be said to him, let it be said to his MPs and let’s cut out the amateur hour scaremongering that no-one buys anyway. We’re not American and we should resist to our democracy’s dying breath the rise of the attack ad.
Let’s discuss the issues; fiercely, ideologically, with conviction, passion and a respect that does justice to the place that these leaders are sent.