Monday, 14 September 2015

Why I ended up voting for Jeremy Corbyn

Now unless you’ve been in a coma longer than DI Alex Drake in Ashes to Ashes it can’t have escaped your notice that there’s been a Labour Party election this summer. And like Alex Drake, much of the Labour Party is now asking whether they’re mad or back in the 1980s following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

So, here’s a couple of admissions:

Firstly, I consider myself a Blairite. In that while many of my views are probably more left wing than that of New Labour, I am pragmatic in thinking that being electable is essential to being able to help those that most need a Labour government. I still love Tony Blair for everything (except Iraq) he did for the Labour Party and would probably still vote for him if he came back tomorrow.

Secondly, despite what I said above I voted for Jeremy Corbyn as my first preference for Labour leader. I’m surprisingly nervous about admitting that.

So why did I vote for Jeremy? Well, firstly there needs to be a shed load of blame thrown at the other candidates. I just don’t know what they stood for. I liked a lot of what Liz Kendall said about how Labour could become electable again, and really my vote was there for her to take. However, she didn’t give a single idea or policy about how to achieve the very credible things she said.

Andy Burnham? Who is Andy Burnham? What is Andy Burnham? I’m not sure he could answer the above, so y’know.

Yvette actually got my second preference and I think she would be a competent leader. But she seemed too scared to voice anything interesting until it was too late. I imagine at parties she sits there quietly hoping U2 come on the playlist.

Then there’s Jeremy. I actually disagree with him fundamentally on many issues, but at least he has ideas, policies and a conviction in what he says. He seems decent, and he’s actually prepared to enact the things he believes in. One thing that annoyed me under Ed Miliband was his policy committee finding that rail renationalisation is obviously immensely popular with Labour voters, but it also has much broader support. But Ed was too scared to listen or to do anything vaguely controversial. No such problem with Corbz.

There’s also been a lot of talk about Jeremy’s electability and how his election means that the Tories are a dead cert for 2020. Well, I think that was the case whoever won this leadership election. None of them could’ve appealed much to the voters Labour need to win. Not to mention the strong position the Tories are actually in. A major disaster notwithstanding it’s the Tories’ election to lose. So why not try something different and have a really different type of opposition.

Finally, I looked at possible outcomes of a Jeremy Corbyn victory. Either he confounds expectations and surprises people and takes on the Tories in a way that puts Labour in a great position to win in 2020 (43% said they are unsure whether hewould make a good PM – this is a strength. People are undecided. And he can win them over with his straight-talking persona).

Or he’s a complete disaster in every way that people are saying, in which case we have another election in 18 months and a sensible Blairite challenger (David Miliband maybe) would be in a very strong position to take the party to 2020.

Or he causes a split in the Labour party and all the left wing groups form their own party and New New Labour centre left party emerges.

To me, this is all win-win for Labour and for politics, and infinitely more fun, engaging and challenging to the consensus than 5 years of beige leadership under Andy Burnham.

Oh one thing more, Corbynites really should stop trashing the last Labour government. It’s unedifying and it’s stupid to attack the most successful Labour government of recent times. But not only that, you only need to look at Jeremy’s election numbers to realise that he didn’t win solely off the back of his new wave of supporters. There must be a lot of people out there like me that were or are Blairites but that have turned to Jeremy for whatever reason. If Jeremy wants to build the broad church Labour he’s talked of then he needs to embrace me, and the many like me who have found themselves backing him.