When Jeremy Corbyn was elected as Labour leader I was prepared to give him a chance. Even if Labour fell short of becoming electable, they could at least move the Overton Window on economics by challenging not just George Osborne’s misguided austerity programme but the whole dubious premise of neo-liberal trickle-down dogma.
It’s something that The Liberal Democrats cannot do effectively because of the way they tied themselves to Osborne’s austerity politicies during the coalition.
Occasionally they do, and score some direct hits. But they spend too much time on subjects where they are dangerously wrong.
Former Labour pollster Deborah Mattinson warned that the party are heading for a heavy defeat under Corbyn, due to the fact that the public simply don’t trust him to govern. She was followed by columnist Owen Jones who, while much more supportive of Corbyn, warned that Labour must stop talking so much about foreign affairs and defence issues and concentrate instead on the sort of domestic issues which both party members and the public can rally around.
Within 24 hours the Labour leader was on the airwaves calling for unilateral disarmament and our negotiated surrender of the Falklands.
When even Owen Jones thinks you’re wrong, you’re wrong.
Corbyn gives the impression that the prime purpose of giving the Falklands to Argentina regardless of the wishes of the people who actually live there is to spite the ghost of Margaret Thatcher. While that might warm the hearts of the activist base, it’s not the sort of thing that will win over the hearts of the people who’s votes Labour need if they are to win an election.
Every time Corbyn opens his mouth on foreign or defence policy what comes out sounds like unreconstructed student activism from the 1970s. It’s not about making difficult judgement calls in a complex and dangerous world, it’s all about symbolic posturing.
Surely anyone over the age of thirty ought to know that the toytown politics of student unions isn’t fit for purpose in the real world?