I have been trying to blog on the Labour Party revolution and the hustings for weeks, but events are so quickly overtaken by other events, it is hard to keep up! Ergo, I have half a dozen blogs not completed and probably now out of date! Doh!
First, I have got to comment on Owen Smith acting the goat at the Labour Faith hustings on Tuesday. Sometimes, it seems as if he is totally unprepared, or he does a rush job at the last minute. At this week's hustings he sounded like a history teacher who tried to gen up on the Labour Party on the way to his lesson. It was painful to watch as he tried to remember dates, names and who did what, I have to admit that at times I had to peep through my fingers. Watching Owen, I had a flashback to Alan B'Stard when he appeared on a morning TV show not knowing the result of the previous night's election. Mr. B'Stard performed better.
Where do I begin. It seemed to me as though he and his team (if he has one) rehashed an old speech, doing a search of key words and replacing them with 'faith'. Announcing blatantly that he was a non believer made me wince. He was making it quite clear to the audience that their beliefs meant nothing to him and he reinforced this at the end by stating he wanted to be Leader so he could see his faith and his beliefs in action. It was quite clear he had no experience whatsoever of working with religious communities or leaders, and no understanding of why he was there. While Jeremy gave details of the ways in which the leaders of the different faiths come together for the good of the community he lives in and represents. Owen had nothing. He opened 3 food banks he said, cretinously unaware that is nothing to be proud of.
I may have been suffering from writer's block, but I thank all the Gods there may be, that I have not been afflicted with the urge to write deranged, negative rantings such as those coming from the pen of Owen Smith's writers. Whilst they have been able to capture the bitterness and rage young Owen feels inside, that is not a good thing. It makes him glare at the audience with hatred in his eyes and a trembling lower lip. He doesn't seem to be aware that when he sends out negativity, it comes straight back at him. Has he never seen what happens when a speaker (performer) turns on their audience? It never ends well.
Jeremy (not a leader or performer) charms his audience with his sincerity. He doesn't need PR tricks or a crash course in positive (shake that fist) body language. He is, rather annoyingly for all his parliament colleagues, a naturally warm and likeable person. He has the 'X' factor. It matters not a jot what anyone says about him, because the reality is clearly quite different and thanks to social media the public can see that for themselves. He has come up with a winning formula that has bypassed a thousand spin doctors with iphones and a room full of monkeys with typewriters. Honesty. Who'd have thunk it? It is so rare and untested, parliament has gone into meltdown.
There is nothing hateful about Jeremy and the plotters themselves would be far more honest if they said it is their actual fear is just how far Left is Jeremy prepared to go.? For example will they all now have to use public transport and wear little grey suits with mandarin collars? For the millionaire donors how much of their fortunes will they lose under a genuinely socialist government? They have had a cushy ride with two decades of Tories and Tony Blair's pro millionaire policies, the divide between the rich and poor has never been greater. Continue down this path and we will have gated communities and tent cities. The social engineering has already begun with the benefit caps and the bedroom tax. The essential service workers and the low waged are being forced out of their homes in desirable locations to make way for those with larger wallets.
At least this summer's hustings are providing us with some sort of entertainment, I'm finding the speeches of Owen Smith especially amusing. Somehow the writers manage to piss off large swathes of the demographic every time he opens his mouth. And Owen Smith is not helping matters by going freestyle. His attempts at humour are crass and just plain embarrassing, I mean come on, he 'wants champagne (and cava or asti) for everyone' he tells an audience of religious leaders and people of faith. Happily, he didn't come out from behind the podium Rylan Clarke style this time, if he had, I think I would have had to switch off.
I think the most embarrassing part of this ongoing debacle is the fact that Owen Smith is being pitched as a more appealing and competent alternative to the eloquent and inspiring Jeremy Corbyn. Unfortunately, it appears nobody bothered to look at his past performances or check out his CV, if they had, they would have quickly realised the man is a complete ass with zero charisma. I think the more accurate explanation however, is a 'thick of it' scenario where none of the
A poll among 172 plotters revealed that Jeremy Corbyn just wasn't charismatic enough because doesn't employ gag writers or go off topic. Jeremy deals with facts, figures and measured, intelligent questions, but perhaps more significantly, he doesn't indulge in the ridicule and personal abuse that grabs headlines. The ever grinning and ferociously ambitious, Owen Smith swept in like Superman to the rescue, promising to shake up PMQs with show stopping performances and razer sharp wit (yet to be seen). Where Jeremy treats his opponents with respect, Owen was more than ready to get down and dirty, vowing to smash Theresa May back on her heels*. Unfortunately for him, he was smashed by the appalling sexist imagery that conjured up, and every sexist remark he has made since merely confirms what we first thought.
Going with the philosophy of KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid), I can't help but wonder if the plotters are/were panicked by what the future may hold for them? Jeremy is totally committed to his work, we can only imagine how many hours a day he puts in. He also eschews the perks and privileges that come with being a politician. I suspect the most terrifying part of #traingate for the plotters, was the thought that they too might have to give up their First Class travel and sit on the floor.
Jeremy is a hands on politician, in the old fashioned sense. He gets out there and meets the voters and he is actively involved in community projects and humanitarian causes. Whilst we are fortunate to have such a dedicated and determined Leader, it has to be tough on all those beneath him. Will they now have to do the same? Most people I know haven't seen a politician for years, will the PLP have to follow the example set by the Leader and have to start mixing with ordinary people? Jeremy's way, may also include his frugal attitude towards expenses, for many it could mean an end to the gravy train. Jeremy knows full well we haven't all been in this together, MPs are one of the few groups unaffected by cuts, and probably explains why so many plotters are clueless as to what's been happening in the lives of ordinary people in their constituencies.
Despite all the negative propaganda, the huge crowds turning out to see Jeremy Corbyn is a phenomenon and one I have never seen in my lifetime. The rallies are filled with people from every walk of life and every background. Those thousands of people are going home to spread the message onto thousands more. Those who claim Jeremy can't win a General Election, are now more panicked that he can. As Blair said, he would rather see the tories re-elected than a far Left government. He would rather see the lives of ordinary working people, the disabled and those on the lowest wage, devastated by the inhumane policies of the heartless 1%, than see Jeremy win. Sadly, it seems to be a view shared by New Labour hierarchy and their millionaire donors.
I didn't have high hopes for the Labour Faith hustings, I actually kind of like the booing, jeering and audience participation, what's wrong with a bit of passion? It is apathy that drove millions away from the Labour Party. Tuesday's audience, as anticipated, behaved impeccably. And fair dues, it worked. I don't know if it was the atmosphere, or the way in which Jeremy demonstrated his deep understanding of the problems and fears faced by people of all faiths, but he again convinced me that those who criticize his oratory skills are talking nonsense. Far from being a bad speaker, his words are inspiring and he captivates the audience, he gives us uplifting personal anecdotes, sharing his own direct experience of community spirit and the successful ways in which 'old enemies' have come together as friends and neighbours.
Owen by contrast, sells doom, gloom and despair. It's as if he is preconditioned to tell the electorate to expect the worse in order that they will enjoy the crumbs that fall from the table all the more. This is what will happen if you don't vote for me, he says. Brexit is a disaster and under Jeremy we will have decades of tory rule. Owen's plan to block Brexit by the way, is already a disaster because a recent government poll has shown that two thirds of the electorate are now OK with it.
He doesn't offer hope, we all heard him say 'Austerity is right', and we all remember the radical policies he now offers have been rejected by the 172 plotters. The message he is sending out is, 'I haven't got any intention of sticking to my (new) radical policies (as if, lol), I'm just repeating what Jeremy says because it seems to work for him'. Unfortunately for the robotic Mr. Smith, he cannot sell passion for his new deal (or the term Smithite) because he hasn't got any passion and his supporters sure as hell haven't got any either, where's Harriet Harman with her 'OWEN'S NEW DEAL' banner?
If Owen Smith's leadership campaign is being manoeuvred by the same 'experts' who ran the last two general election campaigns, it becomes ever more clear why Labour lost and will continue to lose if it carries on in the same 'but we rely on millionaire donors' direction. The definition of stupidity, keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
Those who fear Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, fear a distinct shift in the paradigm. Whilst they are happy to spend days, weeks, months and even years talking about the poverty crisis in the UK, they don't actually want to do anything, especially if it affects their own income. Owen Smith talked about 'prosperity for all' (it didn't catch on), because he was reaching out to those who aspire to be millionaires or win Britain's Got Talent. Let's not hate the super rich, let's aspire to be more like them, champagne for everyone.
While Owen pitches capitalism and his own personal ambitions, Jeremy pitches raising the quality of life for everyone. Owen seems keen to reassure the super rich that although he is now far left and radical, he is still their number 1 fan, wink wink. Owen may think he is doing a brilliant job in appealing to both the Left and Right but if this were Animal Farm, he would be Squealer persuading the animals austerity and food banks were a good thing, the NHS would be better in the hands of Farmer Branson and could we keep the noise down.
But I don't want to end on the negativity of Owen, I much prefer the optimism of Jeremy. After 18 years of tories Blair promised us that 'things can only get better', and for a while they did. Surestart was inspired and Education, Education, Education, enabled me to get a Degree at 40. But what began with New Labour befriending and appeasing big business, employers and landlords, changed when they got involved in big business and became employers and landlords themselves. By the time we got the Iraq war, New Labour had stopped listening to their members completely. Much as they are doing now.
Many of us are old enough and wise enough to know that change is nothing to fear and the historians among us know that the radical mandate of Clement Attlee's government made us one of the most advanced and civilised nations in the Western world. Taking care of every citizen from cradle to grave didn't bankrupt the nation and the sky didn't fall in.
Jeremy Corbyn promises those same sweeping changes, changes that are long overdue in the 21st century. We should be going forward, not backwards. Investing in the NHS, Science and Education creates jobs that kick start the economy. Basically it's Roosevelt's 'New Deal', the basis of Jeremy's policies temporarily borrowed by Owen. Perhaps with Jeremy it should be called 'The Real Deal', because he has actually done all the groundwork and intends to follow it through. With Owen it would be the 'Raw Deal' because he never mean't it in the first place.
These are exciting times, despite all the predictions of doom and gloom from the mainstream media and Owen Smith, the future couldn't be brighter for most us. Jeremy cares about the same things we care about, job security, equal pay, the rights of the disabled and the right to practice whatever religion we want, or not. Jeremy Corbyn has spent 32 years actively involved in causes that matter to ordinary people. His sincerity is his USP, and it appeals across the board, he is offering hope for a better future and it's catching on. Through social media, the public are now more informed than at any time in history, the front pages of tabloids can no longer change the result of a general election. The PLP plotters' attempts to paint Jeremy as a monster have failed miserably. Telling us things can only get better is no longer enough, Jeremy makes it OK to Imagine and OK to dream, because he has the vision and planning to make a better future for all, a reality.
*For those who don't understand the significance of the smash remark, Theresa May's leopard skin kitten heels caused a media furore in the 1990's. Owen Smith knew exactly what he was saying, he appears to get much of his information from google.