Has Ed Balls ever specified what it is about Jeremy Corbyn’s programme for government which makes it ‘a leftist utopian fantasy devoid of connection to the reality of people’s lives’? I’ve followed the debate pretty closely (even from Sweden) and not spotted anything in what he’s said that can’t be defended as reasonable and practical, and which indeed has been implemented successfully elsewhere in the world (some of it in Scandinavia), and once used to be mainstream Labour policy, before the irrational faith in ‘market’ solutions began to dominate the public discourse, and to infect Labour. Precisely which of Corbyn’s policies are utopian, fantastical, and irrelevant to ordinary people? I’d like to know.
But of course if you attack Corbyn you don’t have to be specific; merely to smear him with words which are thought to resonate negatively with people, and leave it at that. That’s the way political debate is carried on these days. There’s no longer any rational argument – from the anti-Corbyn side, at least. It’s assumed that people can’t cope with evidence, or with joined-up thinking any more. I imagine that the rise of advertising, and of the techniques of propaganda and ‘public relations’, reacting on short-term attention spans, has a lot to do with that. People are won over by ‘impressions’, which can be manipulated by headlines and even pictures. Not everyone is fooled; but enough are for the approach to work.
Corbyn isn’t an ideal leader of the Labour Party. I’ve given it as my opinion before (https://bernardjporter.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/2710/) that I’d like him replaced eventually, but only after his new policies and approach to politics – fair, polite, rational – have permeated the party deeply enough for people to appreciate their superiority over the old PR ways. Ideally I would have liked Labour MPs to stick with him until that task was complete. Those who have rebelled against him have done the party an immense disservice. After his ideas had bedded down, they could have replaced him – with a more convincing leader, I hope, than his present rival. Maybe a better quality of Labour MP would have emerged by then. But I imagine that’s unlikely now. Perhaps that’s what Balls means by ‘utopian’.
In the meantime I’ve cast my vote for Jeremy; not only because I agree with almost all he says and how he says it, and because of his courage and strength in soldiering on in the face of his appalling traducers; but also because he represents a style of political discourse and debate – calm, reasonable, joined-up, rejecting ad hominem (or feminem) point-scoring – which any scholar and academic, which I’m afraid I am, should support. I’m told he never went to university. But his way of presenting and discussing issues accords far more closely with what we university teachers try to instill in our students, than the Machiavelli-like ways that some of his Oxford-educated opponents appear to have picked up at their university. Corbyn ought to be the academic’s natural choice.