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Cold fish Corbyn claim is codswallop

corbyn logoIf one were to rank Labour politicians on their desirability as stag night drinking companions, then Lord Sewel would win out over Jeremy Corbyn every time. But when it comes to deciding between potential party leaders, a little dullness comes across as rather reassuring. So I cannot be the only one who found yesterday’s Sunday Times hit job on Jeremy – published under the headline ‘A cold fish relishing his red-hot moment’ – something of a curious read.

Not only does the Murdoch press try to paint him as some kind of ‘dessicated calculating machine’, to recycle a phrase coined by Nye Bevan at the 1954 Tribune rally, by way of a pop at Hugh Gaitskell. It also comes as close as it dares to accusations of intellectual vacuity, illiteracy in matters of foreign policy, antisemitism, nepotism and – worst of all from the standpoint of the News International, the company that smashed the print unions in the hey-day of Thatcherism – support for organised workers.

I have known Jeremy for over 20 years, and I am admittedly not surprised that there are no recorded incidents of Islington’s most famous non-smoking vegetarian teetotaller ever spending a night on the lash with Jeremy Clarkson, the other well-known bearer of that particular given name.

Nor was I shocked to hear the radio interview with the four Labour leadership contenders, in which they are asked whether or not they have ever smoked cannabis. Unlike erstwhile stoners Burnham, Cooper and Kendall, Corbyn alone was able to say no. But leading a political party is a high pressure job, and a commitment to sobriety is presumably preferable to the use of alcohol as “a prop”, something to which Tony Blair confessed a few years back.

What’s more, Jeremy actually does have a sense of humour. Like his drinking habits, it is best characterised as ‘dry’, but it is certainly there. He also has a social life, including close friendships. I’ve recently seen at first hand how supportive he has been to the bereaved partner of one of his closest associates.

The Sunday Times also contends that Corbyn is a bit thick. He only got two Es at A-level, didn’t make it to university, and hasn’t read many books, we are told. He is “a pedestrian thinker who lacks the ability or the originality to adapt to a changing world”, the hacks who penned the article claim.

Corbyn’s intellectual grounding is clearly within the tradition of left labourism; ethical rather than materialist, while substantially more statist than post-Blair orthodoxy prescribes. But once again, labourism strikes me as a useful quality in a Labour leader.

Yesterday also saw a major speech from former prime minister Gordon Brown, in which the ghosts of Bevan and Keir Hardie were ritually invoked to dissuade anyone listening from voting for Jeremy. But if either of them were alive today, there is little doubt which candidate they would be backing.

And what have the remaining trio done to demonstrate a lively grasp of contemporary political philosophy? Which of them qualifies as the Crosland de nos jours, exactly?

Let’s just say that in an age where London Labour Party members are asked to select mayoral candidates on the basis of their ostensible standing as ‘Labour’s Kylie’, evidence of groundbreaking thought from the right of the party is pretty damn scant.

The Sunday Times also highlights Jeremy’s “somewhat obsessive interest in foreign affairs”. His supporters will know the charge sheet by heart, including knee-jerk anti-Americanism and his positions on Israel and Palestine.

Those of us who observed foreign policy during the Blair period will find proper distance from the White House rather refreshing. And while Jeremy’s outlook on Zionism has been perhaps the most controversial aspect of his campaign, even some of his strongest Jewish critics accept that he is not an antisemite.

Saving the gravest charge for last, we are told that it is “even more concerning” that Corbyn put down an early day motion favourable to transport union RMT, after receiving an RMT donation of £4,000. That money went towards office costs; Corbyn would, of course, have done exactly the same had he not received a penny.

The contrast with such Labour politicians as Jack Straw, who charges commercial companies £60,000 to amend EU legislation “under the radar” in their favour, pocketing the money personally, is complete.

Personally I rate support for trade unionism as another plus point for Corbyn.

When you ballot paper lands on your doormat today or tomorrow, vote for the cold fish. It’s the only credible and radical choice.

One Comment

  1. Mervyn Hyde says:

    Isn’t it funny how the right wing press were all promising Tory voters were joining Labour to get Jeremy elected, all total nonsense of course as this article now proves, the person the Tories fear most is Jeremy. Hence the smears.

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