Carrying Water for Jeremy Corbyn

By Jamie Palmer

How things have changed. When Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party in 2015, British conservatives could scarcely believe their luck. Labour’s crazy lurch into the mouldering weeds of anachronistic hard Left politics was supposed to usher in a long and possibly terminal spell in electoral oblivion. Labour moderates were inclined to agree, and Corbyn’s listless dispatch box appearances, comically inept comms operation, and consistently dire polling figures seemed to bear these fears out.

Nevertheless, in deference to party loyalty and the democratic will of the membership, Labour MPs attempted a show of unity for a while. But outside the parliamentary party, in the press and the blogosphere, Corbyn’s ascension provoked a furious backlash from Labour centrists and moderates. In electing Corbyn, these critics argued, the membership had committed an act of self-lacerating naivety and unpardonable irresponsibility. Not only were his dusty Marxist politics an electoral liability in a forward-looking 21st century Western liberal democracy, but his longstanding associations with and support for anti-Semites, conspiracists, terrorists, theocrats, and totalitarians were morally disqualifying.

Political debates over crime and social policy, health and welfare, taxation and economics, and so on can be bitterly divisive. But they deal with complex issues about which people of goodwill from across the political spectrum ought to be able to reasonably disagree. Governing in a democracy is not easy, and nor is navigating a fraught and cynical geopolitical landscape. Jeremy Corbyn may rail self-righteously against Britain’s relationship with Saudi Arabia from the stump; taking such a position is easy given the barbaric nature of the regime there, and doing so costs him nothing. But should he be elected prime minister, he will discover that he too must accommodate that distasteful alliance in the national interest. Compromise comes with the responsibilities of power, which is precisely why inflexible ideologues are better suited to protest than governance.

The alliances Corbyn has made over a long career as a backbench MP and activist, on the other hand, have been unconstrained by the demands of statecraft and geopolitical diplomacy. His outspoken solidarity with terrorist actors like the IRA and Hamas, and his support for the savage revolutionary theocracy in Iran and the Chavez regime in the starvation state of Venezuela, were all freely chosen positions and affirmations of political conscience. When Corbyn appeared on Iran’s propaganda channel and declared that the killing of Osama Bin Laden and Bin Laden’s premeditated murder of nearly 3000 American civilians were somehow comparable tragedies, it was an expression of his own ethical worldview, not some mealy-mouthed diplomatic fudge.

Such arguments, however, left Corbyn’s supporters unmoved. Some of them shared his jaundiced view of Israel and America and the West more broadly as no better­ – and quite possibly worse – than their despotic enemies. Others had barely heard of Hamas, still less bothered to familiarize themselves with the organisation’s Hitlerian charter or its long record of pitiless suicide murder. If Corbyn said his casual description of such people as ‘friends’ was a requirement of his self-appointed role as an international peacemaker then that must be what it was. Here, they decided, was a gentle idealist who spoke softly about injustice and made his own pots of jam. Everything else was just so much mass media defamation from right-wing elites threatened by a sense of virtue they were too jaded or corrupt to understand.

But this latter view required Corbyn’s more benign supporters to overlook rather a lot. The anti-Zionist ideology he had vehemently espoused throughout his political career emboldened and empowered a particularly nasty section of the radical Left, and the Labour Party soon found itself consumed by an ugly anti-Semitism scandal. The Chakrabarti Report into the controversy commissioned by the party leadership was supposed to put a firm lid on the matter. But when the author of that insipid document was rewarded for her efforts with a peerage, it only exacerbated the divisions it was designed to heal.

It took almost a year of catastrophic headlines and tumbling poll numbers before the parliamentary Labour Party finally roused itself to opposition amid the rubble of Britain’s disastrous 2016 EU referendum. In the view of Labour MPs (and many other sensible observers besides), Corbyn’s sullen foot-dragging had undermined the Remain campaign, a cause for which he had only ever been able to muster tepid support. But in marshalling their subsequent leadership challenge, Labour rebels passed over Corbyn’s totalitarian apologetics with an embarrassed cough and focussed instead on his electability deficit.

This near-sighted strategy was an attempt to appeal to Labour members’ instinct for political self-preservation while flattering their policy preferences. It was entirely self-defeating. Owen Smith offered himself as a younger, more affable, and more electable version of Jeremy Corbyn, and unimpressed Labour members, already smarting from the attempt to overturn their previous vote, duly returned Corbyn with another thumping mandate. The rebels sank into despondency and grimly awaited electoral demolition, consoled only by the knowledge that this would at least allow for the rebuilding of a sane left-of-centre party.

Instead, the June election stripped Theresa May of her parliamentary majority and rebel Labour MPs of their only anti-Corbyn argument. With varying degrees of reluctance and enthusiasm, senior party figures appeared before news cameras like scraping subjects to declare themselves delighted by Corbyn’s electoral vindication and to offer stomach-churning apologies for ever having doubted him. If any of them were alarmed by the consolidation of the hard Left’s control of their party, they could hardly raise ethical objections at this late date now that they were within spitting distance of Downing Street.

However, a more dismaying shift had also occurred outside of the parliamentary party and it began almost as soon as the election date was announced. Progressive bloggers and commentators who had hitherto written passionate condemnations of left-wing anti-Semitism and of Corbyn’s fraternal links with terrorists suddenly discovered that such considerations were not disqualifying after all. In handwringing articles, such transgressions were now redescribed by these same writers as something more like undesirable flaws – regrettable of course, but not the kind of thing that should prevent them or anyone else from voting Labour when there was Conservative austerity to oppose. And once the votes were all counted, they too dutifully lined up with their parliamentary colleagues to recommend unity and a ‘reset’ of relations with the leadership, which they now decided ought to be ‘given a chance’.

But if opposition to the Tories’ political programme was the most pressing consideration of the day, then why all the sound and fury about anti-Semitism and so forth from these quarters in the first place? Raising those unseemly matters had only served to embarrass the Labour leadership and had risked inflicting further damage to the party’s electoral prospects. On the other hand, if these things really were disqualifying, then surely opposing Corbynism at the ballot box (where it really mattered) was no less urgent than it had been a few weeks previously.

It is hard to say with any certainty whether their conscientious objection would have made much difference to the end result. Nevertheless, their votes made them complicit in a hostile takeover of their party they had once vehemently opposed, and in cementing Corbyn’s grip on the leadership. I have since read hopeful musings that the election result was a fluke brought about by an uncommonly useless Conservative campaign and the aftershocks of the Brexit referendum. Corbynism has now peaked, these voices claim, not least because those who voted Labour secure in the knowledge Corbyn couldn’t win will not take that risk a second time.

This analysis may prove prescient but I’m sceptical. Perceptions matter in electoral politics, and the election replaced the aura of incompetence and doom surrounding Corbyn’s leadership with an aura of plausibility overnight. No longer is he simply a cranky footnote in Labour Party history, but a serious prime ministerial prospect. Now that moderates are queuing up to endorse him and carry his water, the stigma they had once striven to attach to the Corbyn brand is evaporating. Next time around, it is not control of the Labour Party that will be at issue, but control of the country and its government. This ought to be particularly alarming at a time when Europe is menaced by threats of Islamist violence, rising anti-Semitism, and Russian revanchism that Corbyn is ideologically unwilling and unable to oppose.

The choice faced by Labour moderates at the next election is not dissimilar to the dilemma faced by ‘Never Trumpers’ after the 2016 Republican convention. For those conservatives, a Trump presidency was a uniquely dangerous and repulsive prospect for reasons that went beyond questions of electability or reasonable differences over policy. Trump’s unstable temperament and gruesome admiration for autocratic rule were defects that superseded all considerations of party loyalty. Not only did these conservatives refuse to vote for Trump, but they used their positions as writers and commentators to do whatever they could to thwart his campaign. Trump’s widely unexpected election victory only increased their political isolation. Spurned by the incoming administration as treacherous and out-of-touch, and distrusted by Democrats, they found themselves stranded for the first time in their lives in political no man’s land.

Labour moderates can expect similar treatment. Even as the expectation of electoral defeat loomed before them, their protests about Corbyn’s manifest unfitness for office were swept aside with derision and contempt. Now that their leader’s position is secure, Corbynistas are in no mood to be magnanimous or conciliatory. Speaking at a Progress event on 24 June, the former broadcaster turned activist Paul Mason had a characteristically blunt message for Blairites:

If you want a centrist party this is not going to be it for the next ten years. If it’s really important to you to have a pro-Remain party that’s in favour of illegal war, in favour of privatisation, form your own party and get on with it!

Appearing on the BBC’s political discussion programme This Week a few days previously, Blairite MP Liz Kendall had done her best to put an optimistic gloss on things. Listening to her, the former Conservative MP turned commentator and broadcaster Michael Portillo could hardly contain his incredulity:

You make Mrs. May sound like a realist. What has happened to your party is it is now firmly in the grip of [hard Left campaigning organization] Momentum. And you know better than anybody that these are very nasty people. And these people are going to drive the likes of you out of the party, they’re going to have you deselected, they’re going to pursue you on social media . . . Suddenly you, and Chuka Umunna in particular, make it sound like the only disagreement you had with Jeremy Corbyn was that he might not win . . . Your party has been taken over by a very dangerous hard Left, people who have sympathized with terror over the years, and these people are now within a hair’s breadth of taking power in this country. And you should be more worried than I am about that.

The truth is we should all be worried. In both the US and the UK, the political parties in power during the Iraq War and the 2008 economic crash have both surrendered to powerful populist insurgencies. For all their differences, these insurgencies are united in their contempt for the post-WWII liberal international order and for their own party establishments. They are anti-NATO, scornful of the European Union, hostile to immigration, Putin-sympathetic, and led by agitators who thrive on the politics of mass rallies and online mobs, unconcerned by – and sometimes openly solicitous of – the bigotry and racism they trail in their wake.

Accusations of racism and questions of experience and basic competence didn’t stop Trump and they may not stop Corbyn either, despite copious evidence for both. Americans are now paying a steep price for ignoring these criteria and British voters can expect the same chaotic result should they decide to reward Corbyn’s vapid sloganeering with the task of actually governing the country. Amidst all the fawning tributes to Labour’s marvellous election campaign, the catastrophic policy interviews given by Corbyn and his shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, and the small matter of extravagant but uncosted manifesto promises, have been quietly forgotten. Meanwhile, shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s reckless description of the Grenfell Tower fire as “social murder” is a reminder of the breathtaking cynicism with which unscrupulous demagogues will inflame grief and rage in the pursuit of political expediency.

Having spent a political lifetime barking into loudhailers at protests and demos, Jeremy Corbyn is scarcely better prepared to shoulder the complex responsibilities of national governance than Donald Trump was. And should a Corbyn administration come to pass, progressives of integrity will be needed to pick up the pieces when it is all over, and to recover what remains of the moral health of left-wing politics. If the radicals who spent the ‘80s and ‘90s griping that they had been disenfranchised by the neoliberal consensus are now in control of the Labour and Republican Parties, it is because they understood something that moderates had better grasp: that luck is when patient preparation meets opportunity.

For now, the outlook for Labour moderates is bleak. Many of them have devoted a lifetime to Labour Party politics and must now contemplate the loneliness of political homelessness and exile. But, like the conservative anti-Trumpers, they should look beyond the horizon of their own tribal politics, fight their corner, and await their moment. Those who opt instead for capitulation before radical populism will not only forfeit their dignity; a movement that considers them worthy only of unqualified disdain will swallow them whole.

In 2002, the Left’s ambivalent response to the 9/11 attacks and the war in Afghanistan led American political theorist Michael Walzer to write an essay for Dissent asking, “Can there be a decent Left?” By this he meant an internationalist Left that does not strive to find equivalence between liberal democracies and the theocratic fascists who slaughter their citizens; a progressive Left that has not surrendered its liberal values to masochism and moral relativism; and a democratic Left that prefers political debate to the cult of personality that currently holds the Labour Party in its jaws. In Britain, that kind of Left is in greater peril than ever before. And now that Jeremy Corbyn stands on the threshold of power, the need to speak up in its defence has only become more urgent, not less.

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11 thoughts on “Carrying Water for Jeremy Corbyn

  1. “For all their differences, these insurgencies are … scornful of the European Union, hostile to immigration …”

    I believe Corbyn is on record as scornful of the European Union. I’m not sure if Momentum and other Corbyn supporters can be reliably characterized that way though.

    As for immigration, was its inclusion a mistake? If the author or anyone else can provide any references for the claim that Corbyn or any of his significant allies is hostile to immigration, I would be grateful, because I haven’t encountered this. Thanks.

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    • I think Jamie must’ve been referring to Trump as hostile to immigration. As far as I know Corbyn was an activist for total open borders and only moderated his view recently in light of his campaign.

      His supporters are certainly quite fanatically pro open borders.

      Anyway, I fail to see the immorality of being anti mass immigration. In a world where scarcity exists, resources are distributed unevenly, the flow of people is pretty much one way, and endless and grievance; not to mention, murderous hostility between immigrants and the the natives are brewing.

      Being sceptical with regards to the wisdom of mass immigration seems perfectly respectable and logical. But I would go out on a limb to say categorically, that outright opposition and hostility to open borders seems to be the only sensible option.

      It still surprises me that so many sensible people still seem to think that mere scepticism of mass immigration is a moral failing, let alone opposition to open borders.

      I just don’t get it.

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  2. I absolutely agree with this. My dilemma at the ballot box was should I support Andrew Gwynn who is a fine MP but who, despite being against Corbyn at the start of this sorry mess, was promoted to the front bench to do a good job at the GE, or go against a lifetime of supporting Labour to deny Corbyn my mandate at least. I voted for MRL candidate. I still fight my corner on twitter against the hard left who are getting increasingly nasty with the ‘get on board or get out’ attitude. I refuse to hand in my membership. This is my Party and I for one will not cede ground to the insurgents. Will moderate MPs PLEASE stand up and be counted and stop bowing down to this dictator and his vile cronies

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  3. I absolutely agree with this. My dilemma at the ballot box was should I support Andrew Gwynn who is a fine MP but who, despite being against Corbyn at the start of this sorry mess, was promoted to the front bench to do a good job at the GE, or go against a lifetime of supporting Labour to deny Corbyn my mandate at least. I voted for MRL candidate. I still fight my corner on twitter against the hard left who are getting increasingly nasty with the ‘get on board or get out’ attitude. I refuse to hand in my membership. This is my Party and I for one will not cede ground to the insurgents. Will moderate MPs PLEASE stand up and be counted and stop bowing down to this dictator and his vile cronies

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  4. Good article. But I had to laugh when I read the phrase “progressives of integrity”! Describing yourselves as “progressives” is pure vanity. Time to drop it and properly address the failings of the left, rather than clinging to this life raft of a pretence that only your version of the future is forward looking enough to deserve to be called “progressive”. After all the tv programme about sexual abuse of girls in Rotherham shows there is much about this “progressivism” that is profoundly backward in nature. It’s time to address your failings, not to continue with the pretence of superiority.

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  5. Yeh – you see I agree that the problem is that if people wanted the election to be ‘our dementia tax cap is slightly better and more tax adjusted than the Torie’s cap’ then you should have just said that. But it was all – no no – we love the idea of less inequality and decent wages and no more exploitation and everything – it’s just Corbin is unelectable (and can’t run things very well). The election disproves this line of attack – and this article STILL wants to make argument about Corbyn and some of the things over a thirty year career on the back benches that might have been tactless, too extreme or plain wrong on occasion. Just stop now. I for one absolutely support a pro -Chavez stance and I spit on your tropes that aim to bring the worlds poorest people back into hopeless exploitation.
    Furthermore, you singularly fail to mention the manifesto – and the huge difference it has made to the entire argument,because it was popular- regardless of the personality of the leadership.

    Fundamentally- what moderates and Blairites fail to grasp – is that what Labour had gradually lost over the last decade was TRUST! No one believed Labour wanted to do any good for anyone- not challenge but just better manage inequality unfairness and greed. On the doorstep- that was what prevented people turning out for Labour. Most people (outside of politics) associate the moderate left of Blairism – as a bunch of conniving scheming self serving power hungry amoral unprincipled parasites who are aligned to elitism and inequality. This article confirms that there is still no willingness to want to ‘change’ anything for the better -just prevent other people from doing so or reduce what they can achieve..

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    • What Corbyn supporters fail to grasp is that their idol invariably fails to live up to his rhetoric.

      Labour’s recent General Election Manifesto would have kept £7bn of the £9bn planned Tory Social Security cuts over which IDS resigned. Had Kinnock or Smith or Blair or Brown or Miliband gone into a General Election not committed to ending the benefits freeeze and scrapping the benefits cap then you, people like you and Corbyn would have been all over them like a rash. And rightly so.

      Team Corbyn made an unashamed pitch for the middle class vote by pledging free university tuition, free universal childcare, free universal school meals, a write off of student debt, cheaper rail fares and so on. And, if you earn less than £80k per annum, McDonnell said, you will pay no extra Income Tax and National Insurance for five years.

      Never has so much, been pledged to so few, for so little overall gain in a General Election. You do not address inequality and poverty by freezing the benefits of lone parents and pledging them only £500m for Sure Start, that will not even fully reverse the savage Tory cuts in the programme since 2010, when you earmark tens of billions of pounds to increase the middle class welfare state.

      Team Corbyn has taken Labour well to the right of every previous Labour leader with its pledge to continue underfunding Sure Start, alone. I thought underfunding programmes to alleviate child poverty whilst giving the middle class the equivalent of billions of pounds in tax rebates was what the Tories did.

      Incidentally, the Liberal Democrats pledged to reverse all £9bn of those Tory Social Security cuts, no ifs, no buts, no may bes. Yes, the Liberal Democrats.

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  6. A very good article with one glaring omission.

    One would have expected the fact that a hard left demagogue was Labour’s candidate for Prime Minster to have precipated an avalanche of voluble moral disgust from the liberal centre during the election campaign.

    Yet many individuals and institutions of that persuasion were strangely silent. The dog that didn’t bark. Indeed, they were more likely to seek to trip up Theresa May. Why? Brexit.

    The greatest moral failing of this period comes from the metropolitan liberals who think of themselves as impeccably moderate and centrist yet have become so demented by last year’s referendum that are willing to give Corbyn and the ultra left a free pass in the vague hope of derailing Brexit.

    Even the author, willing and able to call to account those who stay silent in the face of extremism, can’t resist joining in the anti-Brexit hysteria: “amid the rubble”; “disastrous”, etc.

    The irony of criticising Corbyn for not really trying to stop Brexit at the ballot box in 2016 while yourself not really trying to stop Corbyn at the ballot box in 2017 is too obvious to be ignored.

    Brexit is happening and even those who fear that it will be bad for Britain have a duty to make the best of it – unless of course the wish is father to the thought.

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  7. An excellent article as usual from Jamie.

    Although, as mentioned above. It’s a bit confusing where it seems to read as if Corbyn and Corbynites were hostile to immigration. That must be a mistake.

    For me the Left’s holier than thou demands for open borders and shrill screams of racism against anyone who dares disagree, coupled with their divisive identity politics and embracing of radical Islam are what disqualifies them.

    It isn’t their socialism or pie in the sky Utopianism.

    It’s their divisive identity politics (which leads them to support radical Islam) and demands for open borders in the knowledge that they will keep telling new comers and minorities born here, that they’re right to hate Britain for history and that they’re currently being oppressed by straight white men.

    The bien pensant left’s love of petitions recently targeted the Daily Mail’s advertising revenue on the grounds that it’s articles covering Islam and immigration constitutes dangerous hate speech. But I would argue that if that’s the standard we’re going on, the left are arguably more dangerous and divisive.

    Yes it’s awful when the Daily Mail cooks up a bullshit story about Christmas being canceled because of Muslims but I think what the left does by calling the West oppressive and her natives racist is far more egregious and demonstrably dangerous. And that crap can be found in schools and universities as well as in the pages of the Graun.

    Not only is this lefty demonization of the West and specifically white men, totally in harmony with the radical Islamist ideology, it has resurrected the formerly defunct nativist far right.

    To add more mass immigration with Islamism and the left singing a duet and the sickly corpse of the far right lurching into life? What a terrible idea.

    That’s why I oppose the Corbynite left.

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  8. Corbyn did well in the election because he gained the hope and trust of millions of people who are disadvantaged by current politics and economics: these people are symbolised by the Grenfell disaster. As Naomi Klein argues, a similar movement must reform the US Democratic Party in order to effect real change there too. A better future is in prospect so long as we can avoid the thermonuclear war that is apparently envisaged by Trump and others.

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    • Indeed, because the ‘principled, dispossessed’ affluent youth (and their parents and grandparents) of Glastonbury, whom Corbyn urged to arise, returned to council and social housing on the day after the Festival ended.

      Labour under Corbyn did not go into the General Election committed to reversing all of the £9bn of Tory Social Security cuts over which IDS resigned. Labour only committed to reverse £2bn, leaving in place the benefits freeze and benefits cap. When questioned about this matter, during the General Election campaign by a journalist, Corbyn said the journalist was wrong, then an aide tapped him on the shoulder, so now the journalist was right. But there is more, Labour will hold a review of the cuts.

      Sorry, the man dispensing hope to and earning the trust of millions (copyright, the white middle class) was happy with a review to determine whether or not the benefits of the poorest in our society should be unfrozen? Corbyn then went on to tell the journalist that he was committed to commenting on the perversity of the benefit cap.

      Somehow, I do not imagine Corbyn mentioned that, when he displayed he is the only politician with a heart by hugging a Grenfell resident, just a few weeks later. Corbyn may have a heart, but does he have a brain?

      Labour’s Manifesto spread tens of billions of pounds of taxpayers’ pearls before the middle class and they could not wait to gobble them up. In the process, Labour made liars of many of us who campaigned for it up to polling day. We told our core vote they would be better off under a Labour Government when the truth was quite the opposite. Yes, marginally better off than under a Tory Government, but much worse off than under a Liberal Democrat Government.

      And, it is not just the matter of tax and benefit where Labour turned on its own, but in areas like Sure Start. Giving those who currently pay for childcare under 5, free childcare not only widens the income gap between them and parents currently receiving it for free, but it also widens the social inequality gap. If I have no option to pay for childcare now then giving it to me free is the equivalent of a tax rebate. Thus giving me more money to spend on my child(ren) in that crucial period between 0 and 5 where the future of most are determined for the rest of their lives.

      One might almost think that those behind Labour’s Manifesto were looking at ways to keep Labour’s core vote penned in on the reservation. After all, if more of them get on then there will be greater competition for university places and subsequent jobs. There is, clearly, only so far that the white, middle and upper class males around Corbyn are willing to go in their assault on their Establishment, of which most of them happen to be members themselves.

      Labour’s success in the Canterbury Constituency underlines my point. Labour won the seat with just under two hundred votes, but only six weeks after Labour’s vote across Kent had collapsed in the County Council elections. Are we to believe, as some would have us believe, that between those elections, but before the launch of Labour’s General Election Manifesto, thousands of people in an affluent constituency like Canterbury found their inner Socialist without any thought of personal gain?

      There are 8,800 students in the Canterbury Constituency; 32,900 of those in work there, 68.5% of the total, are employed as managers, directors and senior officials and in professional, associate professional and technical occupations; 37,300 there hold an NVQ4 equivalent and above, 53.2% of the constituency’s resident population, aged 16-64; many are long distance commuters to London and Whitstable, the town on the constituency’s piece of the North Kent coast, has been known as Islington on Sea for two decades now.

      Surely Canterbury would be a barren land for a Labour Party, led, allegedly, by its most Socialist leader in decades, reaching out to the disadvantaged, the left behind and disconnected? Labour has never won the seat before, not even in 1997, when we last had our highest share of C2DE votes in many years, and the Liberals have never won it either, not even in 1906. But then neither party has ever made such a blatant pitch for the middle class vote as Labour has done under Corbyn, who, himself was born into an affluent, white middle class family. Clearly that is why he best understands the pain of the 40% who go to university at 18 and rarely seems to remember the majority, who do not.

      Labour endeavoured to mimic the SNP route to power at this General Election, but the proportion of the electorate in Scotland that is middle and upper class is greater than across Great Britain. SNP has been able to win power there, at Holyrood, without any great increase in C2DE votes. Middle class got to vote SNP for Holyrood on a platform against Trident, over which the Scottish Parliament has no say; for free university tuition, that has now seen a significant reduction in those from low income backgrounds becoming undergraduates and, in theory, for reform of local taxation. SNP were very much in favour of replacing the Council Tax, in opposition, but despite having had powers to do so since 2012, they have not. Their core vote would see their taxes rise as some on low incomes were taken out of taxation completely.

      In conclusion, Corbyn signed off on a Manifesto that he clearly had not read, on a topic he claims to be closest to his heart and that would adversely affect the the lives of the likes of lone parents, yet we are assured by people who have never had jobs in government and never seemingly taken much interest in how most people live in this country, that he, flanked by John McDonnell and Seumas Milne is fit to be the next Labour Prime Minister (and not just for the class into which he was born).

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