Well, there’s no putting a spin on this one: we lost. As for why, there are probably as many theories as there are stars in the sky – Brexit, media bias, the anti-semitism crisis, a more ‘extreme’ programme than in 2017 – whatever the reason, the result is clear.
I feel a sense of personal grief over this. It’s as if I had lost a very dear friend in sudden and tragic circumstances; I feel the need for a period of mourning before I can even think about anything else. But I’d like to explain in this post why I and so many others (I believe) supported Corbyn.
To understand this we have to go back to 1979, the beginnings of neo-liberal economics and privatisation. I was and remain utterly opposed to the privatisation of public services: I was and remain a believer in a mixed economy as the only way to ensure the viability of said services and to give government a hold over rampant capitalism. I believe unfettered capitalism to be fundamentally evil. The trends are well-documented and I’m too demoralised to go into them again but the rise of those few people at the top at the expense of the many at the bottom is clear for all those who have eyes to see.
This does not make me a communist. I have never believed in total state control of industry – I don’t think it works. A mixed economy was supported by all parties in the 1970’s and what is now presented as ‘extremism’ was then espoused even by one-nation Tories, a breed Johnson claims to represent but which he doesn’t seem to understand. Along with many others I was deeply frustrated by the failure of Labour, especially under Blair, to oppose this lurch to the right, and longed to see an opposition who would genuinely stand up for ordinary people.
As a man, Corbyn has been more vilified than anyone since Martin Luther King. He’s not perfect; he has flaws but, having seen him in the flesh a number of times as well as on TV and video, having continually asked myself ‘am I being duped? Is this man a charlatan?’ and answering ‘no’; my conclusion was that here was a fundamentally decent man who believed in what he was saying. I found it utterly scandalous that no sooner had he been elected, people in his own party were trying to get rid of him. There was no respect for the democratic process here. (Though people spoke out against Johnson, no such process occurred within the Tory party because they’ve always known how to stick together.)
Yes, we might have got a bit carried away towards the end (a four-day week was probably a step too far at this stage and, just and right as it was, it probably wasn’t good sense to announce that we’d help the WASPI women as this undermined our claim that all the policies were fully costed.) There was a lack of leadership over Brexit, where we should have had a policy in place in 2016, and over the anti-semitism scandal. There’s an excellent article about this here.
The extent of Corbyn’s popularity has been played down I believe, by the main-stream media, but it doesn’t matter now because we lost. However, to put Corbyn and Johnson in the same box as leaders disliked by their MP’s and unpopular in the country, is to miss a fundamental moral point: that they were morally opposites. Corbyn is a decent human being who stands up for ordinary people; Johnson is a self-serving bullshitter who cares for no-one but himself. And we’ve chosen him.
Right now I feel like a stranger in my own country.
More on that story later… in the meantime let’s be good to each other because we’re all going to need more human kindness.