I want to make a confession. I am a soft leftie. There, I have said it and I feel no better for it. In fact, in this day and age, I admit that I am sorry and embarrassed for it.
I think that nuclear weapons should be scrapped and that Trident should be done away with. I dislike with an intensity these hedge funds that make money simply by ensuring other people lose or make money. I find climate change denial people horrendous and the fracking loving, oil soaked wind farm naysayers bizarre. I hate to see it when big companies ride roughshod unfairly over employees and loathe seeing how multi-national companies can both get away with paying bugger all tax and also treat their customers like shit on a shoe. There are sound economic arguments why monopolistic services like water and railways will not benefit much from privatisation. I think migration can be a good thing, that tuition fees are a dreadful idea and that the Iraq War and bombing Syria are simply fuelling desperation in the coming decades.
So it has cost me several months of my life asking one very complex question which I needed answering. Why do I not support Jeremy Corbyn and his Momentum Labour movement? After all, I should. All those policies I hold truly dear to my heart. And yet….
It is only today that I have seemed to finally feel that I have pinned the tail on that donkey. And, for others as equally confused as me, I think this clears things up. Here it is in a nutshell:
Corbynism is simply botched historic Oppositionism. He cannot do Leadership which is providing a critique AND a new and better way.
Let me try and explain my thoughts.
Firstly, the simple thing that Corbynism is Oppositionism. This is basically where anything anyone else is, says or does is wrong. A perfect example of describing this mantra comes from Owen Jones, a man who has been a passionate, if not an uncritical, supporter of the Labour leader. His piece for the New Statesmen is excellent prose: passionate, insightful and critical. Yet, his piece, exemplifies what this ideal of Oppositionism and Corbynism is about. It opposes absolutely everything – the ‘establishment’ (whatever that is), the media, the Left AND the right, banks, deregulation, privatisation, anti-unions, the EU, the Parliamentary Labour Party, university educated, people who live in London and the BBC. Apart from a couple of scratty ill-conceived soundbite ideas is there isn’t one shred of a coherent ideology apart to oppose.
To add to that – you have the Oppositionism against Labour’s own rank and file. Whether you love them or loathe them, the Labour MPs that are part of the Labour Party have as much stake in it as the Corbynites and Momentum. You could probably argue more, since they didn’t just pay three quid to vote for a leader, they spent years getting a seat, years more campaigning and years more learning the ropes of Westminster to make their constituents lives better. So when a close colleague of the leader goes in front of an audience and uses Oppositionism those very same people by calling them ‘fucking useless’, that undermines the potential for leading a party or a movement into a place where they could actually make a genuine difference to the many people who are struggling in life.
Which is fine, as long as you are in opposition and as long as you are opposing stuff that matters to people. After all, it is famously true that it is the party in power that loses power and not the opposition that wins.
But then there is the botched Oppositionism thing which makes it harder for people – outside of the Momentum cabal – to actually feel that they have some stake in the opposition to the Tories. I dislike Trident – so what is JC’s answer? Build the subs to keep the unions happy but don’t have the missiles. Then have a Nuclear Policy Working Group that doesn’t even report back its’ findings before the vote on Nuclear Policy being held in Parliament. JC supports tackling climate change – yet he wants help his old union supporters in the National Union of Mineworkers and reopen coal mines – the most damaging source of CO2 emissions there is. That feels worse than Oppositionism – it is botched oppositionism.
And then there is this historic Oppositionism – campaigning for a cause that has already been lost. This week, the new unelected Conservative Prime Minister, a woman with, for the left, some pretty unpleasant views, had her first few days to have some ideas exposed for potentially the shallow ill-conceived populist opportunism that it may have been. So what did Dear Leader of Her Majesties Opposition do? Laid a wreath to commemorate the 182nd anniversary of the Tolpuddle Martyrs; gave a speech to the Durham Miners Gala and met some European Socialists. Atop of that we have had hand wringing about a 13 year old war and references to Miners strike struggles. There could have been some senior opposition Cabinet members come out to battle for us. But instead they are either trying to shore up their leaders position and are therefore ignoring the plight of the country and the people they pretend to help or there is no one in post to vocalise the concerns of the party to the country.
Don’t get me wrong. These were important issues. But they are not current issues that matter to anyone today. Tolpuddle Martyrs are GCSE exam questions, miners are no longer found in this country and European Socialists are pretty pointless now the referendum has been lost.
There is so much to highlight, so much to talk about, so many things to explain to British people that what is being done in their name isn’t in their, or the planets, interest. There are so many things to campaign on and form a cohesive ideology around that isn’t just the mainstream view about managing capitalism.
Yet instead there is the People’s Front of Judea fighting the Judean People’s Front offering not a shred of leadership, inspiration or hope. To be a leader, a true leader, you have to say what you stand for and not just oppose everything, you have to make people – especially those who initially disagree with you – believe in it and it has to be relevant to today and credible. None of this is happening.
And that, my friend, is why I can sleep better. I now get why I cannot support the #Jezwecan or #Momentum thing. Because I cannot support just opposing things – I need to know there is something better that will replace it.