What are we to make of a politicians who thinks Scotland part of England?
In speeches made in Aberdeen and Dundee, Corbyn thinks “It is the right of people to decide what they want to do but the last time there was a referendum I was told by Alex Salmond it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” That is, of course, incorrect.
A man who needs a road map
First of all, someone has to tell Corbyn that Salmond is no longer leader of the SNP. Second, Salmond stated a referendum was once in a generation, a political generation, meaning five years, (not counting the Tory’s EU referendum) but it’s just like a Labour party member to turn a truth inside-out until it clothes his prejudices.
He makes no mention of Scotland’s political deficiencies, or indeed has bothered to meet his Labour party colleagues in Scotland. Scotland is on the outer fringes of Corbyn’s universe, about as far off and as irrelevant to Jeremy’s Englishman ideals as St Kilda. He refuses or turns his back on questions about Scotland’s constitution, the Barnett Formula, or the sorry tale of the Smith Commission. Corbyn travels Scotlandshire in his own private bubble.
Heir to, or nemesis of, the Labour party’s fortunes, Corbyn has the looks of a salty sea dog, and the quick temper of a man cheated of his place in a queue for January sales, he is without charisma yet manages to rekindle old beliefs and revive withered rights.
An arthritic rhetoric
He doesn’t like the politics of celebrity, seemingly unknowing his own celebrity gathers adherents by every word he speaks and every meeting he holds. This is perplexing for he talks in platitudes, and generalities. He is not an inspiring orator, or a fluent intellectual, but every now and then drops in good sense, and compassion. He is likeable. Sort of.
In his early days as an MP, Corbyn was arrested for his beliefs, the right to demonstrate against apartheid, unlike his colleague that he won’t condemn, Tony Blair, who has yet to be arrested for anything. On the false cause of Iraq Corby wants to bury the hatchet with Blair … probably in the back of his skull.
On being unsophisticated
There is something attractive in his lack of guile. An inattention to his looks and attire – scruffy beard, and brown jackets with leather elbow patches, give the impression of a man not vain, not self-conscious about his image. He exudes an uncomplicated honesty that catches attention, as if untainted by decades on Westminster’s back benches.
Is aggressive modesty enough?
Arriving long after the SNP made plain its left-wing credentials he offers people hope, but not empowerment. His hope is bureaucratic, one wrapped in renationalisation of the railways, publicly owned; a people’s bank, and so on, and so forth, but not a peep from him about a new Treaty for Scotland, or more powers to give Scotland a chance to develop and grow. In fact, the general perception is that he is against more powers. How that fits in with his expressed view of bringing greater democracy to the ‘north of Britain’ is yet another mystery to add to the list we have already.
He doesn’t like abuse of colleagues. “We don’t do abuse or condemnation,” he says, not clarifying who he means by ‘we’, in effect acting exactly like an internet troll who carries on making communication difficult for the other contributors on the site by ignoring pleas to desist with his annoying repetitious posts.
Two things I have noticed. He is excitable. Under severe questioning that will trip him up sooner or later. And his knowledge of Scotland and its politics, indigenous and reserved, is extremely limited. Both are bound to trip him up sooner or later.
His candour is refreshing. When asked if Tony Blair should be put on trial in the Hague for war crimes he answers immediately, “Yes, if he is guilty of war crimes.” (Is that not back-handed condemnation of a colleague?) No wonder, then, Blair mounts special conferences to declare him chief blot on the landscape. Quelle surprise.
“Even if you hate me, don’t elect Jeremy Corbyn leader of the Labour party!” yells Blair at the cameras, mouth taut in a rictus of anxiety. But each day brings greater and greater turnouts for Corbyn’s speeches, and increases Blair’s alarm for his own safety.
Corbyn’s colleagues and the mainstream media also condemn him for being left-wing. They think him a disaster, downright dirty dynamite. They are in such a panic they are dialling 666 right now, calling upon their tame subterranean leviathan Gordon Brown to leave his wretched slumbers and trundle from his cave into the light to breathe fire upon Corbyn, and incinerate him to a potato crisp. Brown duly obliged.
What strange times we live in.
Labour ask, “Are you now, or have you ever been, a socialist?”
Is he the man to lead Labour back from its self-imposed exile as the party more Tory than the Tories? Well, that’s for English voters to decide. Corbyn does not need Scotland, and Scotland does not need Corbyn. He thinks he needs the votes of Scotland to succeed, a myth he of all people should have scotched years ago.
For Scots he has serious flaws. For all his professed democratic credentials he feels Scotland should be kept in its place as part of the United Kingdom. He is against a second Referendum as if that choice is his to make. That tells us there are limits to his democracy, and we begin to understand why he remains in the Labour party after Iraq, and all the corruption and lies. He is no radical. He is a clubby sort of chap, as any gin quaffing Tory.
He is aware there exist poor people
To his credit he espouses economic solutions that benefit the poor, the disadvantaged, and the masses. That alone would have him hung, drawn and quartered in the modern manner of English zealots, but he has support in high places.
American economist and Nobel prize winner, Paul Krugman, thinks Corbyn’s economic ideas generally sound, and Krugman should know. He was the man who advised Clinton, who fought the worst excesses of American businessmen and banks, and lost, and advised the SNP among others over the economic details of the White Paper.
Krugman thinks the Tories austerity policies, and the same embraced by Labour, are not, as much of the British press depicts them, the only answer to fiscal crisis. Krugman argues there is no fiscal crisis, “except in the imagination of Britain’s Very Serious People”.
Krugman feels as we all do, the whole neo-liberal austerian ideology is based on fantasy economics, and yet all the contenders for Labour leadership other than Corbyn have chosen to accept the that ideology. Krugman compares Labour now with what went on within the Democratic Party under President Reagan and “again for a while under Bush,” that is, accepting the right-wing’s propaganda of what has gone wrong with the world and how only they can fix things by staying in control.
Krugman points out the obvious, “How does that make the Democrat different from the Republicans” And in response we ask, “How does that make Labour different from the Conservatives?” We are faced with the same ideas: big military spending, freedom for bankers and corporations to avoid tax as a legal right, privatisation of everything including privatisation, tax cuts for the rich, benefit cuts for the poor.
What Corbyn offers is hope, a quality junked by Labour.
Corbyn is doing a good job of reviving old Labour shibboleths after the moral collapse of New Labour and an election that no one could claim was a cast iron endorsement of Tory neo-liberalism and Friedman shock economics. He offers a kind of ‘Return to Start’ for Labour party faithful.
Problem with Labour? Have you tried switching it off and restarting it?
“Let us devolve power across the whole of the UK”, says a Jeremy cheerleader, with a sweep of the hand, as if Scotland’s sovereignty has no meaning, no worth. [My emphasis.]
Corbyn implies he’s more left-wing than the SNP’s left-wing.
To fit into Jeremy’s concept of Scotland it must remain a land of imposed taxation, exploited resources, a tourist venue, England’s playground, patronised, the lives of our soldiers taken for England’s greater glory. He believes in Scotland as the poor relation in the union, which is decidedly odd considering he believes in Irish unification. Dump the Northern Irish who feel British, keep the Scots who don’t feel British.
He has learned nothing from Scotland’s rejection of Labour betrayals. And that means his socialism is permanently on auto-pilot. It is not a philosophy. It is an ideology frayed at the edges. His concern for Scotland is definitely not palliative. It is purely mercenary.
“Proud socialist fighters from the Scottish brigade” sings Jeremy’s ‘socialist’ band of Spain and its civil war, without realising its alternative association, Labour’s lonely branch office in Glasgow.
“We shall fight for the union, for social justice” they wail, Jeremy nodding in approbation sagely, but not the kind of justice Scotland and its people need or demand, not from a diehard British unreconstructed imperialist.
We must follow Jeremy … south, where there is nothing there but myths and madness, and one roomed apartments with toilet at half-a-million pounds.