From all I read (via Facebook) in the British media, it’s Jeremy Corbyn who appears to be ‘the problem’; and behind that, his socialism. Which, truth to tell, is no more ‘extreme’ than was the policy of the Labour Party under Attlee and Wilson, the regime I was brought up under; or the fundamental beliefs of the country I am living in now.
Most of his domestic policies are favoured by a large majority of the British population, according to recent polls. His supposed toleration of ‘antisemitism’ in the Party is based on lies and propaganda, the latter probably Israeli-inspired, and encouraged by flawed and biased reporting in our own media – and not only the billionaire-owned right-wing nasties. (See https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/30/flawed-reporting-on-antisemitism-claims-against-the-labour-party?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR2-vfNAhfCpwCBusTYeyJsUfeeaxb8fdyHg1a33dmnqKUmnKucY–9dy_w.) His Brexit strategy has always been consistent, and is the only clear one on offer today with any chance of delivering anything close to what we Europhile Remainers want. He is also likely to be far better at delivering it than are May and her crew, as is indicated by this report of his recent unofficial negotiations with European leaders: https://www.itv.com/news/2019-02-21/jeremy-corbyn-pushes-labours-brexit-blueprint-in-brussels/. The ‘deal’ he would come to with Brussels – abandoning May’s ‘red line’ on freedom of movement – would be significantly better for us all than either May’s plan or a ‘no deal’ exit. And if it fails, he’s opened the door to the second referendum that most Remainers want; which is the best hope we have of staying in (or returning to) the EU. Anyone who doubts Corbyn’s ability to represent his country in the world should mark this. Leadership and even ‘strength’ don’t require confrontation, which is what the Brexiteers in Parliament and the press are demanding, but which is counter-productive more often than not. Wisdom, honesty and judgment are far more essential. And Corbyn seems to have these in spades. (See https://bernardjporter.com/2018/12/30/corbyns-way/.) I still think he’s ‘playing a blinder’ (https://bernardjporter.com/2019/02/09/corbyn-the-strategist/). He could be our salvation – if that doesn’t make me sound too much like a naive devotee.
So: why all the animus against him? Is it simply because he doesn’t look the part? A ‘leader’ in the Thatcher or Churchill mould? Or because he is perceived not to come down clearly and firmly on one or the other ‘side’ of the Brexit debate? – Or is it rather because his ‘socialism’ turns people – especially comfortable people – off; although it’s really a very moderate form of socialism, and would be regarded as such here today in Sweden, as it would have been in Britain in the 1960s and ’70s.
One problem may be the dominant image of that latter period that has stuck to it ever since Thatcher got her claws on it, and distorted it out of all recognition. According to this, the ’60s were characterised by industrial decline, strikes, unburied bodies, rubbish littering the streets, high taxes, and loony leftism – which is what Corbyn is associated with particularly. Another reading however could be that this was an age of growing equality, functioning social services, a properly-funded NHS, free higher education, a lively culture (both ‘high’ and ‘popular’), hardly any ‘rough sleepers’, far less serious crime, ‘progress’, general optimism (especially on the Left), mainly clever men in charge, with the Etonians excluded from government, no Piers Morgan, and when Britain did have at least some heavy industry. Corbyn is charged with wanting to return us to that time. I won’t make the obvious retort: that the Tories seem to want to return us to a far more distant past. But if it’s the reputation of the ’60s that is putting people off Jeremy, they should think again. Perhaps we historians could have a role to play here, in rehabilitating his formative period of history (as well as mine).