26 Jul 2015 at 10:06
The scales have been lifted from my eyes, my Damascene route to enlightenment has begun. I have become a Corbynite. Of course, his analysis is hopelessly wrong. Of course I could never vote for him. But what shone through on Marr this morning was his total belief in what he says. That he has policies and ideas that come from the heart and not a gaggle of smart arsed advisors and horribly inclusive focus groups. There will be a lot of talk about entryism some of which is true. There will be a lot of talk about abandoning the election. It won’t happen. It’s game on.
What was so shocking about Marr’s interview was that Corbyn answered direct questions directly. It is terrible for a seasoned Westminster man like me to admit that over the years I have been lobotomised by stealth. The passion has been replaced by triangulation, equivocation and eventual sanitisation. Could you imagine Andy Burnham being asked if he was a Marxist and replying, ‘now that’s an interesting question, I haven’t thought about that for years’? Burnham who has become more of a faux chuckles merchant than even that old fraud Farage, would have laughed it off. Yvette would have put on her anguished face. The trouble with Yvette (discuss) is that she doesn’t have a personality just a series of emoticons that some advisor employs to pass off for serious thought.
I can understand why Corbyn has got so much support from the young. He remembers why he joined the Labour Party. Because it was rooted in working people, community and Socialism. A health service that works and is free at the point of use, a job with decent working conditions, a roof over one’s head and a net to catch the poor. Really it was pure Macmillan, but that’s an argument for another day. Over the years the People’s Flag has become beige. Under Corbyn it will be deepest red.
Many commentators compare him to Michael Foot. In his day Michael was a passionate and moving speaker. When his name flashed up on the announciater we all crowded in. He had beliefs, he had principle, but by the time of the 1983 election he was a shadow of himself and his manifesto rooted in the forties. At the moment Corbyn is full of passion, humour and a twinkle in his eye. He has converted Footian beliefs into something accessible to the young and the dispossessed. He has given them hope. I happen to believe that it is a false hope, but that’s not the point. His views on nationalisation struck a populist cord. They wouldn’t stand up to an Andrew Neill battery clip interrogation, but they are superficially attractive. ‘We spend billions of pounds a year on investing in railway infrastructure then we give it to private companies……every house has one electric wire one telephone wire yet there are a number of companies pretending that they are competing for our business in a false market’. It is a flawed but attractive argument which will resonate with some.
Years ago I represented a man for being part of a horrific gangland execution. His defence was that he was not there. It was rubbish and in the witness box he was appalling because he was clearly lying and equivocating. After his dreadful performance he said that he wanted to change his story and tell the truth. I applied to the the judge (now deputy President of the Supreme Court) and he agreed. My client went back into the box and was brilliant. He was acquitted because he was a man who was clearly telling the truth.
It’s the same with politicians. People are sick of carefully drafted slick answers which are meaningless pap. They can smell when someone is telling the truth and they have sniffed the authenticity of Corbyn. He may be an old fashioned tax and spend Socialist, but at least he believes in it. What on earth do Burnham and Cooper really believe? Probably not even in themselves.
Marr was a watershed for Corbyn. And it’s not necessarily down hill all the way. Oh, and what was the one phrase that didn’t quiver from Corbyn’s lips? ‘Let me be clear’. How refreshing.