Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Jeremy Corbyn's Prime Ministerial Speech

Interviewed in the wake of this year's Labour leadership contest, Progress director Richard Angell conceded that not only were they out-organised, they had lost the battle of ideas because, well, they didn't got any. Witness poor Owen Smith, who offered only Corbynism minus Corbyn but with nuclear weapons and immigration controls, and last year's candidates whose managerial, vision-free politics fell flat. To underline the vacuity Richard spoke of, Jeremy Corbyn's conference speech today was, to borrow a phrase, ram-packed with them.

Old favourites were dusted off - the national/lifelong education service, an end to punitive DWP sanctions, restoration of rights at work, the national investment bank, the return of the migrant impact fund, and house building. And newbies shown off too. Allowing councils to borrow against the value of their housing stock, restrictions on private rents, support for small businesses, greater access to the arts, all are entirely welcome. It was also good to see Jeremy spell out Labour's opposition to a hard Brexit and the party's commitment to a Lexit politics - if the Tories are determined to make working people bear the cost, or they come to an arrangement with the EU by which the sorts of interventionist policies our economy needs are disallowed, we will oppose. More important for the future health of our politics, I was pleased to see Jeremy not shy away from immigration. Given Rachel Reeves's disgraceful and cynical speech yesterday, the real "tough decision" is not to ape UKIP and decades worth of tabloid lies, but stand up to them. He made it absolutely clear this means concentrating on economics, housing, on unscrupulous employers and deregulated labour markets, not capitulating to scapegoating and hate. Good.

There was something quite unusual about the speech. Perhaps it's the darker suit, but whatever. Jez was a man transformed. Jeremy came over as articulate, polished, and convincing. He avoided lefty jargonbabble while setting out the stall, sounded passionate and firm in his belief in what he was saying was right (a sincerity, alas, that always evaded his predecessor), and was as assured as he was galvanising. Readers know I don't do uncritical cheerleading, but this was Corbyn at his best. A man with the vision of the good life, with a coherent policy agenda, and a confidence in his leadership and our movement's capability to deliver it. Jeremy has had more stick than any other mainstream politician, but today's performance gives hope that it can be turned around. We had a glimpse of something we never expected to see from Jeremy Corbyn, that rarefied and seldom spotted commodity: prime ministerialism.

7 comments:

Mathias Alexander said...

JC needs to spell out what categories of person, under what circumstances, are to be allowed to enter Britain. How long they can stay, work permits citizenship, etc.
Uncertainty breads anxiety.

Yabby Ranks said...

Yummy yummy bread.

Blissex said...

«We had a glimpse of something we never expected to see from Jeremy Corbyn, that rarefied and seldom spotted commodity: prime ministerialism.»

That is in large part the "Oxford Union" style «prime ministerialism» and is not welcomed by all. In a way I am partly sad that to appease some of his critics Corbyn has switched his understated style to an "Oxford Union" one. Maybe he has been taking presentation lessons on the side.

Also the "Oxford Union" style of presentation may please especially those in the Westminster bubble, where so many are from Oxford, but electorally it does not matter that much.

Voters return a majority to oppositions when governments fail, and the leader, the manifesto and even the press coverage of the opposition matter but not a lot (I think in the low single digits of percentage, which helps of course).

Speedy said...

Brexit was a vote, largely, against immigration policy, albeit a largely misplaced one. The British public will never trust Corbyn on immigration (or defence), so whatever nice things he says about schools etc, he will never become PM.

BCFG said...

"The British public will never trust Corbyn on immigration"

Well Corbyn has said he will not seek to reduce immigration and that immigrants contribute greatly to the nation. So what part of that will the British public not trust?

Of course the British public have for decades put their trust in people who continually fail to deliver and make promises they know are lies. The Tories have repeatedly said they will reduce immigration and all the time it goes up! The Tories have repeatedly said they will reduce crime and be tough on crime but crime goes up when they are in power, the Tories have repeatedly said they will increase home ownership but their policies have seen an increase in renting, the Tories say they will tackle loss of working days yet unemployment is always higher when they are in power.

Repeatedly the Tories fail to deliver and repeatedly the British public trust them.

I am too polite to provide a definition for this.

On Corbyn's speech yes I thought it was great, I think the vision he and McDonnell outlined is the true progressive vision, unfortunately thanks to the centre left these policies will never see the light of day and the centre left will ensure they are all ditched. Such is the nature of the centrist unity project.

I suspect Corbyn is already a dead man walking, I suspect he will never take on the centrist enemy and I think it is time to start wearing those I love Tony Blair t-shirts.

I hope I am wrong.

Blissex said...

«Progress director Richard Angell conceded that not only were they out-organised, they had lost the battle of ideas because, well, they didn't got any. Witness poor Owen Smith, who offered only Corbynism minus Corbyn but with nuclear weapons and immigration controls,»

I disagree with this for two reasons, of which the first is that Progress have officially disowned the Owen Smith candidature as a failed weak try by the "soft left":

www.progressonline.org.uk/2016/09/22/clause-one-socialists-will-win-the-day/
«Smith was by no means a ‘Progress candidate’ – this fight was led by the ‘soft left’. The theory goes: if we show how much in common we all have with Corbyn’s politics the membership will overturn its hard left idol and join with us in the task of getting more votes than the Tories. That theory has been tested to destruction.»

The other reason is that Progress do have ideas, of sort, for example:

www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/10/miliband-made-terrible-mistake-in-ditching-new-labour-says-mandelson
«Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, said Labour would only win if the party championed aspirational voters who shop at John Lewis and Waitrose. Umunna, the shadow business secretary, who appeared alongside Mandelson on the sofa on the Marr show, said that Labour had been wrong to run a fiscal deficit as Britain entered the downturn in 2008.»
«Hunt said the Labour party needed to appeal to the “John Lewis community”, including those who aspired to shop there and at Waitrose, rather than sticking to appealing to its core vote.»

www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/labour-fears-corbyn-will-be-seen-as-unambitious-3tww86v5n
«Labour MPs have raised concerns that Jeremy Corbyn’s rhetoric on tax avoidance could appear anti-aspiration. A senior shadow cabinet source said the party leader was in danger of overreaching himself in his criticism of David Cameron for investing in Blairmore, the fund set up in an offshore tax haven in the Bahamas by his father Ian.»

The ideas I find there seem to be:

* Our core constituency is people who shop at Waitrose, or aspire to do so.
* We want to get rid of the baggage that were our core working-class/manual worker voters.
* Austerity is a good idea during recessions.
* "Light touch" on tax avoidance as it is popular with our intended core constituency.

Blissex said...

«Repeatedly the Tories fail to deliver and repeatedly the British public trust them.»

The tories have delivered bigger house prices in southern constituencies, and the swing voters in southern marginal constituencies have been very pleased, giving them an increased majority. The centrality of southern house price increases to UK politics has been proven again. Can't end too soon.