Who will actually vote for Jeremy Corbyn? Young, naïve, wet-behind-the-ears idealists, of course. New party members who don’t remember the 80s. A class of political newborns, blinking in the light as they emerge into the world of public policy, who fail to understand the issues of the real world and don't know how to shape it. There can't be anything seasoned, wise or even rational about these people. Indeed, to most in the political and journalistic class, the mere thought of voting for Jeremy Corbyn is tantamount to a psychotic break with reality, justifying the abuse (some from former party leaders) that has been thrown at these poor deluded fools.
We appear to have entered a time when it is considered acceptable to speak with such contempt about the choices people are making in an election. But as a doctor in my forties, a high earner in an extremely respectable tax bracket, and a Labour Party member since the age of 18, I have to say that I am - along with many of my peers – now considering voting for Corbyn myself. I am the Corbyn supporter that many would have you believe doesn’t really exist.
The common notion is that voting for Corbyn is some kind of retreat into a “comfort zone”. It is an emotional response to the trauma of the last election, we are told, which - like downing a few pints in rapid succession - will leave those who voted Corbyn feeling a little better, but only temporarily. Until the hangover hits.
But the problem with this analysis is that what most people understand by “comfort zone” is a position that involves the least argument and confrontation possible; a zone where we don't have to disagree too much, and can all at least pretend we get along. To many people, that is precisely the area that Blair and his successors have occupied for the last 20 years. It is their desire to get along with everyone that has led them to finally arrive at a point where they are almost incapable of saying anything at all, lest some constituency somewhere be put off.
Almost everyone who joined the Labour Party did so because they wanted a fairer and thus more equal society. Standing up for that as an explicit objective, with policies to bring it about, isn't a sign of weakness; it's a sign of strength. Caving to the Murdoch press - and practically giving them a veto over your policies - is perhaps the weakest position of all. Just because the Sun calls you brave (for, say, deciding to invade Iraq) doesn't mean that you actually are.
Most of us - having sipped at the altar of Blair - have come to learn that you can't really tackle inequality and improve public services without asking some people to sacrifice more. And, shockingly, not everyone votes out of self-interest alone. As a higher rate tax payer, I'd be more than happy for my tax bill to go up if it means better schools and hospitals and a fairer society. It's not childish or immature to set this as a goal for society. After all that's how most of Scandinavia works. In fact, there are some Corbyn policies that I wish would go further: with an explicit embrace, for example, of ‘direct democracy’. This is a Switzerland-style arrangement where the public is able to vote on any legislation via referendum. It’s very much a Corbyn-esque policy, and one that would easily broaden his appeal across the political spectrum.
We must never forget that the Conservatives won the election with less than 25% of the public supporting them. A path to victory doesn't inevitably involve aping them. If the Labour party keeps moving to the right in response to an increasingly right-wing Tory government, then we come to realise that it has no anchor. And that, far more than any perceived fear of the far left, is what will sound the death knell for the party I’ve supported all my adult life.Reuse content