If you’re even passingly familiar with my outpourings of left-wing bias, it should come as little surprise that, come June 8th, I shall be voting for the bearded, bike-riding vegetarian. I really think you should too. Of course, if you live in a Lib Dem-Tory marginal, do what you have to do. If you live in a truly safe seat of any stripe, do what you want to do. Scotland, also, offers its own set of choices. But most people face a decision between Red and Blue. You might not like that fact, but a fact it is. If you want electoral reform, lobby your MP, get involved with or donate to the Electoral Reform Society, but don’t waste your vote.
After a generation of being offered similar choices in different coloured rosettes, Britain is offered starkly contrasting visions for its future. The Conservatives offer, yet again, a shrinking state. Labour offers a vision of genuine social democracy. This is not socialism, far from it. It is a restoration of much-needed compassion to an increasingly heartless state.
A state which, we should remember, was shrunk for essentially no reason. The global financial crisis was not the fault of the New Labour government, or its spending policies, and the response from the Conservatives has probably slowed down the recovery rather than sped it up. The intellectual case for austerity, from Osborne’s favourite economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, has been revealed to lie somewhere between wishful thinking and academic fraud.
As detailed in this article, the pair omitted relevant data, and at every point weighted what they did use in favour of the conclusions they were promoting. One bad year from New Zealand, for example, had more influence than nineteen good years in the UK. The data supported the conclusion “sometimes austerity isn’t a disaster” and was manipulated until it said, “austerity is the only answer”.
The Conservatives offer only more of the same bitter, unneeded pill. After seven years, there is no fat to sensibly trim anymore. That is why ludicrous proposals like the dementia tax are cropping up: because there’s nothing left to cut. Homelessness, child poverty have increased, social services have been gutted. Sure Start centres have closed down, despite the evidence that early-years intervention is one of the most effective ways of breaking cycles of intergenerational poverty. None of this is good for the economy.
On defence, the arguments against him are well-known: he is a peacenik unilateralist. I don’t think it ridiculous, though, to point out that a “robust” defence policy sometimes resembles a drunk guy sticking up for his mates on a night out. Yeah, he’s trying to protect you, but ultimately throwing the first punch puts everyone in danger
A nuclear war could well spell the extinction of the entire human race, and that is not an exaggeration. A little caution with the big red button is to commended, not sneered at. Likewise, over-eagerness to bust out the Tornados has done little good in Libya, and the murderous folly of Iraq is well-known. On all these issues, Corbyn has been on the right side, while the chaos produced by our actions has made us less safe, not more.
With regards to Brexit, Labour’s position is pragmatic. I did not want to leave the EU, but now the vote has come in, there needs to be a sea change in public opinion to do anything but leave, and that simply hasn’t happened. The prospect of negotiating Brexit brings me onto the personal styles of the two leaders. Here, again, we face a stark choice. After years of media-trained smoothness, we have two leaders bucking that trend in their own particular ways.
If you are in doubt between the two, I ask you to consider who is more open to the moderating influences of party and civil service. Jeremy Corbyn seems to genuinely believe in party democracy, and by all accounts listens to those around him, even if he doesn’t always take their advice. Theresa May obviously does not like public dissent, and reports from her camp say aides, too, are afraid of speaking up.
So who would you rather have negotiating Brexit? Corbyn, who for all his flaws, will actually listen to advice or Theresa May, who sees enemies around every corner and in doing so makes more of them. The EU are not our enemies, but we could surely turn them into that if we tried hard enough. Corbyn’s bruising two summers have shown that he’s no pushover, and the same has been proven of his MPs. Say what you like about them, but they are certainly not averse to criticising their leader.
So for the economy, for society, for safety, for the environment, for a decent Brexit vote Labour on June 8th.