By Daniel Margrain
I, like many other Labour supporters, spent yesterday afternoon glued to the telly in eager anticipation of the speech that was to come. I thought Corbyn looked, understandably, somewhat nervous and at times his frequent glances at the auto cue reflected a measure of uncertainty. He’s not the greatest of orator’s in say, the Galloway mold, but paradoxically, therein lies his strength. It’s the man’s humility that is arguably his strongest quality. It’s a quality that cannot be measured in the objective sense but you know it and feel it when you see it. And make no mistake, hundreds of thousands of us do see it.
But alongside that humility comes a level of integrity and steely resoluteness to get stuff done. One senses that here is a man who doesn’t suffer fools, and the media spin machine that plays to their tune, lightly. Underpinning this resolve, which is borne out of decades of principled and committed campaigning on issues that the establishment would rather whitewash away, is a man who is an idealist as much as he is a realist.
The image the media portray of him as a man out of time and place – a kind of naive and reluctant hero for the masses in the style of the Peter Sellers character in the film Being There – cannot be sustained for much longer. Indeed, I suspect that it’s a cliche that’s already run its course. Ultimately it’s his raw humanism and plain speaking that people seem to warm to the most.
I’m convinced that what people want more than ever are these kinds of politician’s. Somebody like George Galloway also has these qualities in abundance but with Corbyn you don’t get the self-centred inflated ego that comes with it. As you’ve by now realized, I’m a huge fan of the bloke and his policies as well as the new direction he intends to take the Party.
As for the speech itself, I thought it was refreshing and inspiring. I thought Corbyn was at his strongest during the middle section when he attacked the Tory government for the scaremongering tactics used against him when he was accused of threatening the economic interests of the public and the security of the country. The following extract from his speech was Corbyn at his most powerful:
The Tories talk about economic and family security being at risk from us the Labour party, or perhaps even more particularly, from me. I say this to them. How dare these people talk about security for families and people in Britain.
Where’s the security for families shuttled around the private rented sector on six month tenancies – with children endlessly having to change schools?
Where’s the security for those tenants afraid to ask a landlord to fix a dangerous structure in their own homes because they might be evicted because they’ve gone to the local authority to seek the justice they’re entitled to?
Where’s the security for the carers struggling to support older family members as Tory local government cuts destroy social care and take away the help they need?
Where’s the security for young people starting out on careers knowing they are locked out of any prospect of ever buying their own home by soaring house prices?
Where’s the security for families driven away from their children’s schools, their community and family ties by these welfare cuts?
Where’s the security for the hundreds of thousands taking on self-employment with uncertain income, no sick pay, no Maternity Pay, no paid leave, no pension now facing the loss of the tax credits that keep them and their families afloat?
And there’s no security for the 2.8 million households in Britain forced into debt by stagnating wages and the Tory record of the longest fall in living standards since records began.
And that’s the nub of it. Tory economic failure. An economy that works for the few, not for the many….
…It didn’t help our national security that, at the same time I was protesting outside the Iraqi Embassy about Saddam Hussein’s brutality, Tory ministers were secretly conniving with illegal arms sales to his regime.
It didn’t help our national security when we went to war with Iraq in defiance of the United Nations and on a false prospectus.
It didn’t help our national security to endure the loss of hundreds of brave British soldiers in that war while making no proper preparation for what to do after the fall of the regime.
Nor does it help our national security to give such fawning and uncritical support to regimes like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain – who abuse their own citizens and repress democratic rights.
This is the spin Ian Dunt of politics.co.uk put on the speech:
Of all the speeches Jeremy Corbyn could have made, this was the most predictable and the most useless. There was no thematic content, no idea unifying what he was saying, no quality in delivery, no attempt to speak to the public outside the hall, no plan for the future and no sign he is prepared to work with the media to communicate his appeal more widely. It was the speech of someone who either doesn’t care or isn’t capable of speaking to anyone outside of his immediate supporters.
This was the common refrain of many within the wider media establishment spectrum. Clearly Dunt and me both witnessed two completely different speeches.
The vile Laura Kuenssberg from the BBC claimed, without evidence, that Corbyn will have difficulty getting the middle ground voter on-side, implying that his politics are somehow Marxist as opposed to essentially humanist. Kuenssberg’s assertion went unchallenged. So much for the BBCs alleged impartiality. Her tone in all her commentaries on Corbyn thus far have been condescending at best and outright dishonest at worse. But she is far from being alone on that front.
The mainstream media and the establishment elite cannot handle the idea that Corbyn can be both a campaigner and a leader, or that decision making can be a democratic process emanating from the bottom up. They just can’t seem to get to grips with the rapidly changing nature of British politics in 2015. In that regard, the people of Britain are a country mile ahead of a media that is frankly out of touch and becoming increasingly irrelevant as each day passes.
This also explains why people are turning to alternative and social media sources for their information. I think it was a positive move that Corbyn made when he tasked Watson to work on the social media aspect of his campaign which is, of course, important. But equally, we ought not forget that the majority of people in this country still consume their news through traditional methods.
I believe Corbyn can, and will, capture the centre ground because ultimately he is essentially a humanist at heart and humanism is centrist. But you would never believe that after having analysed the media who continue to portray him as “hard left” although that particular epithet is starting to wane. There is currently a campaign doing the rounds that has almost reached the 100,000 signatures required to ensure that, in the name of parity, pressure is put on the BBC to describe Cameron as “hard right.”
If Corbyn does win over the party and eventually get elected as PM, the turn of events will have an uncanny resemblance to the plot line of the brilliant television drama A Very British Coup. Unlike, Being There, such an eventuality would be akin to a situation in which life imitates art. Let ‘Corbynmania’ continue long into the nights and days ahead.