Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ten reasons why Jeremy Corbyn should be the next Labour leader

It may shock some but I think there are some good reasons why I think Jeremy Corbyn should be elected Labour leader:
  1. Age. If elected Corbyn will become leader at the age of 66, the oldest person to become a leader of a major UK wide party since Michael Foot at 67 for Labour and Neville Chamberlain at 68 for the Conservatives & Unionists (and he was almost the last senior figure for whom the full name was critical). A Corbyn leadership would be a marvellous antidote to the obsession with youth in certain quarters of politics and broaden the field for consideration in other parties.
  2. The beard. Beards have been out of fashion in politics in recent decades with New Labour especially practising a virulent degree of pogonophobia. To find a significant leader with a beard (well on their face) you have to go back to the Edwardian era when Lord Salisbury and Keir Hardie were the last leaders of their respective parties to sport them. By making Corbyn their leader, Labour would help bring beards back into the mainstream.
  3. The cap. Headgear is often absent in politics with only George Galloway's distinctive fedora (which now seems to have been surgically attached) and Paddy Ashdown's meals getting much comment lately. But Corbyn has a wonderfully distinct cap - I believe it's called a Breton Cap - that's a gift for the cartoonists. It's time to expand the range of caps and hats in politics.
  4. Clothes. Corbyn is a functional practical dresser. A tale is told of how burglars broke into his house and actually turned down his red blazer. Not for him the ridiculously expensive tailored suits worn by some Labour politicians. If he were leader the image consultants would have a nightmare - and that's no bad thing.
  5. Cycling. Boris Johnson's term as Mayor is coming to an end in less than a year and he'll either drop into a lower profile or end up in a more security conscious ministerial post of the kind that discourages such open access. There'll be an opening for the position of most prominent cyclist in politics. As Leader of the Opposition Corbyn would be perfectly placed to fill it.
  6. The polls. It can't be much fun being an opinion pollster at the moment. Everyone keeps bringing up the general election and won't listen to explanations about the difference between opinion polls and exit polls. Even away from politics "What would you know?" is a constant response and there's not much opportunity to rebuild reputations before the elections next year. A Corbyn victory would allow opinion polls a chance to get something right this year.
  7. Bookies. It's a sign of just how much the Corbyn bid has surged that initially he odds as low as 100 to 1 or even 200 to 1. If he becomes leader a lot of bookmakers are going to have to pay out rather more on this contest than they were expecting.
  8. Parliament. There is a long history of hardline socialist MPs having a greater impact outside Parliament rather than within it. They tend to go round the country making the most memorable speeches at rallies and protests instead of within the Commons. It's high time to change that and have the case for socialism made in the Commons, and from the despatch box to boot, where the immediate audience will be more diverse and where the arguments can be responded to directly.
  9. Islington. This borough has a reputation for metropolitan liberal chattering class politics practised by those sitting around at trendy dinner parties and looking down with undisguised contempt on the hard working classes. This reputation has not been helped by a number of political developments, including the borough's other MP being Emily Thornberry, and has even led to Newsnight investigations as to why the country is so out of touch with Islington (erm shouldn't that be the other way round?). But whatever else you can say about Corbyn his brand of socialism is not the chattering class dinner party champagne socialist style and his leadership would allow the borough to show it's more diverse than that.
  10. Taking leadership elections seriously. Corbyn was nominated because a bunch of Labour MPs felt it was important to have a debate with the hard left of the party and give it a ritualistic slaughter. They expect Corbyn to do about as well as Diane Abbott in 2010. (They also forgot that Abbott's candidacy attracted members to vote who would otherwise have not bothered and it was their transfers that ultimately gave Ed Miliband the edge.) They never expected a great surge to the point there are now groups organising around a simple Anyone-But-Corbyn line. Nobody expected the supporter option to attract all those #ToriesForCorbyn or #TrotsForCorbyn (and there are even Conservatives trying to sign up Trots for Corbyn). To a Conservative this looks bizarre - when we have our next leadership election nobody is going to think the process is somehow incomplete without the presence of an Edward Leigh, Philip Davies or Nadine Dories on the ballot paper. A Corbyn victory will be a wake-up call to take things seriously and only nominate candidates you actually want to see as leader.
So go on Labour, make him your next leader!

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