So it’s official, then: Jeremy is back at the helm – though the ship has seen better days, and the fate of the disgruntled crew remains to be seen.
Even with the attempts to either keep out troublemakers or curtail democracy (depending on whom you ask), the result was a largely foregone conclusion. The challenge for Labour going forward will be in working out how to garner votes from a wide range of demographics, many of which often align with the left on many issues, but are considerably put off by Corbyn.
There are many reasons people find Jeremy objectionable. Some are more sensible than others, and of the more sensible ones, many are kinks which can (in principle) be ironed out. But his foreign policy is a real sticking point for me; more specifically, I’m troubled by his woefully inconsistent track record in standing up for the issues he claims to care about.
I find it difficult to imagine voting for a man who believes in self determination for the people of Northern Ireland, but only insofar as they determine to unite Ireland. Or someone who claims Hamas is dedicated to achieving ‘long term peace and social justice,’ an assertion which is only true if the annihilation of the world’s Jews constitutes a palatable “peace.” Nor do I want a Prime Minister who professes to care about human rights, but who heaps heartfelt praise on Venezuela’s authoritarian kleptocracy and worked for the propaganda network of Iran – a regime which executes dissidents, adulterers and gays.
Corbyn is a principled man, as we’re all used to hearing by now, but merely having principles does not guarantee their quality. He has shown himself willing to enthusiastically endorse any regime or paramilitary group which shares his reflexive dislike for the Western establishment, exempting them from the keen moral gaze to which he subjects the West and its allies. That gaze, we should never forget, is warranted – our societies have many serious flaws. But consistency is important, and only being able to see Western failings is as myopically partisan as not being able to see them at all.
As the leadership results were announced at Labour’s Party conference, Momentum were holding a conference of their own – ‘The World Transformed,’ a modestly titled attempt to lay out their vision for this country’s future. Parts of that vision are refreshing counterpoints to the pessimism and intellectual stagnation of mainstream political thought. But is it enough? Casting a vote leaves little room for nuance; I can’t vote for some of their ideas and against others. And because foreign policy is of such importance, the grievances I have described are not easily dismissed with reference to the good the movement might do in other areas.
It could be that ‘The World Transformed’ really does represent the first steps in achieving the lofty ambitions implied by its name. Or, it could be that this movement will end up achieving nothing, as the Conservatives quaff Champagne and jubilantly line the empty opposition benches with taxidermied foxes and badgers. The latter would be bad for the people of this country, but I can’t yet voice wholehearted support for the former.
I had intended to make the trip to Liverpool, but was unable to, thanks in large part to exorbitant rail fares. The irony of this complaint, in light of everything I have said, is not lost on me. But ultimately, whilst I object to expensive train tickets, I prefer them to Hamas – and I don’t want to be part of the mandate of anyone who disagrees.
Image credit: Flickr/Garry Knight