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
Earlier this month George Parker of the Financial Times asserted: “it is the state of the economy that remains at the heart of the malaise in British politics”, but his other reflections were nearer the mark.
He said that: “Panic over the rise of the populists is spreading across the Westminster establishment, which is turning on itself in a round of recrimination bordering on self-loathing. With a general election less than six months away, British politics is about to enter a volatile and unpredictable phase”.
Another comment: “Polls suggest voters regard the Westminster class as out of touch and incompetent . . . Global events have exposed the inability of the British elite to identify risks, let alone deal with them. From the financial crash, through the rise of Russian aggression in Ukraine to the surge in Islamic radicalism in the Middle East, Westminster politicians were initially blindsided, then appeared impotent in their response”.
A serious indictment – and he should have added to it a reference to the fatally corrosive effect of the corporate–political alliances which skew decision-making in favour of the already rich.
This is seen as corruption by many, here and in America (see cartoon). It is noted that – in this particular – the Westminster class are far from ignorant and incompetent when adding to their incomes and those of family and friends – aka ‘feathering their nests’.
Mr Parker expresses the sense, among some British voters, that they are victims rather than beneficiaries of globalisation, which – Political Concern adds – has offered so many opportunities for leaders of corporations and governments to enrich themselves at the expense of the ‘rank and file’, vastly increasing economic inequality and environmental pollution.
He continues: “If the mood continues, the next election could see a remarkable rejection of traditional politics . . . neither of Britain’s main parties can expect to win an overall Commons majority in the election, which will be held on May 7. A period of instability and multi-party coalitions – possibly including minority parties as diverse as UKIP, the Scottish National party, Ulster unionists and the Greens – is a real possibility”. And adds:
Both Tories and Labour acknowledge that supporting UKIP has become a cry of pain from people who no longer feel they have a stake in the future and have lost faith in Westminster politicians to help them.
Many will watch with interest campaigns by ‘minority parties’: SNP, the Greens, NHAP, Plaid Cymru, in Cornwall Mebyon Kernow and UKIP, which still gives cause for concern.
Time for change!
George Parker, political editor of the Financial Times: MPs sceptical and anxious over Isis strikes
“The vote was decisive and deceptive. An overwhelming majority of 481 gave the impression that the House of Commons was confident in its decision to send British forces to war in the Middle East for the fourth time in 15 years. In fact the mood among MPs was one of scepticism and anxiety – even fear . . .
“During the course of a sombre emergency debate, speaker after speaker stood up to back UK military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis, but expressed fears over whether it would work, and where it might lead, in almost the same breath.
“The Conservative MP Ken Clarke gave voice to a political class scarred by the experience of previous interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, all of which the former chancellor said had ended in disaster: “What happened in all those cases was that the military deployment produced a situation at least as bad as it had been before and actually largely worse”. Like many other MPs, he concluded that bombing Isis was the least-worst option.
“Yet his short intervention summed up the doubts reverberating around the chamber over what MPs were being asked to approve: the “almost symbolic participation” by the RAF in attacks on Isis targets in Iraq, but not Syria . . . the drift towards a wider engagement beyond Iraq stirred foreboding among MPs who remember the way UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan were sucked into an open-ended conflict . . .
“In the upper house, just as in the Commons, the big majorities for British intervention in Iraq did little to disguise the pessimism over its chances of success.
“As Frank Dobson, the former Labour health secretary, put it: “If we look at the track record of the interventions of the French, the British and the Americans in the Middle East since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, then the odds look as though we won’t succeed. Everything else has gone wrong . . . ”
The Herald reported SNP MPs’ refusal to support air attacks on Isis
Angus Robertson, the Nationalists’ foreign affairs spokesman, expressed revulsion at the militia group’s reign of terror, which includes beheadings, crucifixions and rapes, and agreed international co-operation was required. However, during an impassioned eight-hour debate, the Moray MP yesterday told the Commons that because there was no coherent plan to “win the peace” in the Coalition’s motion then SNP MPs would vote against it. He said there was “deep scepticism for the potential of mission creep and a green light for a third Iraq war”, given what had happened previously in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, adding, “The motion asks for a green light for military action which could last for years [but] there is no commitment in the motion for post-conflict resolution.”
In the Guardian, Simon Jenkins: “This is the moment in any war when peace goes dumb. The cause is just. The enemy is in our sights, and the provocation is extreme. Blood races through tabloid veins. It is white feathers for dissenters”.
“The new Iraq war has no strategy, not even tactics. It is a ` a token, a pretence of a strut on the world stage . . .
“The return to war will reinforce the politics of fear – which is the grimmest legacy of the Blair era in Britain. It has Cameron popping in and out of his Cobra bunker like a rabbit in a hole. Every government office, every train, every airport welcomes visitors to Britain with terror warnings and alerts. Cameron does this because he knows he can only get Britons to go to war by portraying Isis as a “threat to Britain’s national security”. Some Isis adherents may have criminal intent, but that is a matter for the police. Britain survived a far greater menace from the IRA without crumbling. Its existence is not threatened by jihadism. The claim is ludicrous. Cameron must have no faith in his own country.
“The contrast between Asia’s eastern and western extremities is now stark, the one booming, the other descending into catastrophic instability and medieval horror. It is impossible not to relate this to two centuries of western imperialism and meddling. It strains belief that further intervention – through the crudest of all forms of aggression – can bring peace and reconciliation”.