The FT “few question Mr Corbyn’s seriousness and integrity”; Boris Johnson’s verdict: thoughtful, caring and principled
Extracts from an article by George Parker, the FT’s political editor:
Mr Parker said that, in a Europe where anti-austerity parties are on the march, Jeremy Corbyn offers a more radical approach, capturing some of the leftwing anger of Syriza or Podemos: “I have been in Greece, I have been in Spain. It’s very interesting that social democratic parties that accept the austerity agenda and end up implementing it end up losing a lot of members and a lot of support.” He continued:
“He often turned out to be right in the causes he pursued though it did not always feel that way:
- He backed the jailed Nelson Mandela;
- spoke up for the people wrongly convicted of the 1974 IRA pub bombings in the UK; opposed Mr Blair’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003
- and engaged with “friends” in Hamas and Hizbollah in pursuit of Middle East peace.
At the time he ‘earned criticism’ but, Parker adds an accolade, “few question Mr Corbyn’s seriousness and integrity . . . he offers ideological certainty” – in other words he knows his mind and speaks the truth – a rare commodity in today’s politics.
Boris Johnson would say that wouldn’t he?
Writing in the Sun Boris Johnson, London mayor, says: “Of course, he won’t actually win this leadership election. His ideas would be economically ruinous and would impose huge new taxes on working people”.
He may well be quite wrong: Corbyn may win this leadership election; his implemented policies could lead to increased employment and higher taxes on those who can afford them may well be used constructively.
Johnson says that the reason Jeremy Corbyn strikes such a chord with the electorate can be summed up in one word: Authenticity: “Whatever you say about the veteran MP for Islington, he has thought about his positions. He cares. And he puts his principles into practice” and asks: “Can you really say he has been as eccentric as all that?
- He spent decades campaigning for higher minimum wages for workers.
- Yes, he was one of the early campaigners against apartheid. Quite right, too — these days Mandela is regarded as a kind of modern saint.
- Yes, he was in favour of bringing the IRA to the negotiating table, a view treated as semi-treacherous at the time.
- These days he looks prescient — Martin McGuinness meets the Queen and no one bats an eyelid. Yes, he abominated the Iraq war and rebelled countless times against the government of Tony Blair.
- But these days you look at what is happening in Iraq and Syria — the almost daily bombings and massacres — and you have to respect his judgment.
“The reason he is doing so well is that by comparison with the other Labour leadership candidates — a bunch of relatively anaemic, gelatinous and vacillating opportunists — Jeremy Corbyn looks passionate and principled. And that has lessons for everyone in politics”.
Not convinced? Watch him on Newsnight:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02y2ffn
Britain’s last best hope
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt marked the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth by presenting his Cabinet colleagues with the author’s works.
Prime Minister David Cameron received copies of Hard Times and Great Expectations and Secretary of State for Justice Ken Clark was given a copy of Little Dorrit – in which Dickens attacks the British prison system.
Charles Walford wondered if this choice was a comment on the economic circumstances in which the coalition Government is operating, as well as Mr Hunt’s hopes for its success.
Journalist David Irwin (Solihull News 1.6.12) – listed as the only teetotal journalist this side of Damascus – recently interviewed Charles Dickens’ great great grandson and reflected on the relevance of Dickens’ work today, noting that youths are not running barefoot through the streets but there are ‘particles’ of Pecksniff and hints of Heep in 21C Britain.
Other points he made included:
- The gap between rich & poor is still very much in evidence in Solihull – the divide between Lady Byron Lane and Lanchester Way is well-publicised.
- Our reporters regularly sit in on cases at the borough magistrates’ court that would make Bleak House’s Jarndyce and Jarndyce seem an exercise in brevity.
- Turning to one of the writer’s most famous creations, Wilkins Micawber, we see his latter day counterparts sitting in the Treasury, hoping beyond hope that “something will turn up”.