Springingtiger's Blog


Leadership And Moral Courage

 

CorbynIf there is one lesson to be learned from politics it is that the average politician confuses leadership with management and is happy to replace integrity with expediency. There is a political New Speak that reverses the meanings of words to fit the version of events that best suits the establishment.

In the eyes of today’s Parliamentary Labour Party Winston Churchill would not be considered a leader because even after Britain won the Second World War he could not win the following election. Indeed he was out of office more than id during his political career. In his younger days he had a tendency to break rules to accomplish his ends. By Parliamentary Labour Party standards the most successful leaders of the last century would be Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, both of whom were adept at manipulating systems and structure, both of whom however caused support for their parties to leech away over a decade of observable placing of expediency before principle.

Today’s PLP keep telling us that the primary purpose of the Labour Party is to win power. Again they put expediency before principle. As I was listening to the radio it was remarked of Owen Smith after his latest remarks on the National Health Service that he felt that for him to win, ‘he has to be seen as a socialist’. ‘To be seen as a socialist’, there was no suggestion that he had any actual belief in socialism, but the inference was that it was a disguise he had to adopt in order to have any chance of defeating Jeremy Corbyn who is a socialist and has been all his life regardless of the consequences. I remember the hope that Tony Blair gave the party because he appeared before he was elected to be a socialist. When he changed Clause 4 we were told and believed that this was merely expediency and after election he would revert to socialism. He got elected and continued to undermine the Trades Unions and invaded Iraq regardless of what the ordinary people thought. It is no surprise that when asked her greatest legacy, Margaret Thatcher replied, “Tony Blair”. We believed and we were fooled and it probably serves us right.

I think why the right like Owen Smith while no one on the left trusts him is that he comes across as a second Tony Blair. Owen Smith with his pointy thumb and awkward attempts to look comfortable without a collar and tie seems more about presentation than commitment to Labour values. When we look at his record in Parliament and before there is no sense at all of any commitment to socialism. Now I don’t want to diminish the accomplishments of New Labour, Tony Blair did introduce some worthwhile reforms. However apart from some token devolutiion they did nothing to rebuild the political and economic structures of the UK so the succeeding Tory government could, as Thatcher had, quickly undo all the good that had been done.

Owen Smith looks much more comfortable in a suit and tie, he is part of the establishment. Were he ever to be Prime Minister I am absolutely sure he would, like Blair, tinker and introduce some reforms, but it would not be socialism and that is why the Blairites think he can win, because he does not threaten the Conservative establishment, under Smith it will be Business (quite literally) as usual. Given the reigns of power Smith will manage the business and pass it on unbroken to the next manager to follow him.

The reason Corbyn scares the establishment is that unlike Smith and Blair he brings the promise of fundamental reform at every level of the social, economic and political system. Corbyn is not a manager his is not the world of balance sheets like Smith. Corbyn like all leaders is a visionary and his vision inspires people. Smith is a suit like nearly every other politician of the centre ground, he inspires no one. Churchill was not a manager either, but when faced with a challenge he rose to it and inspired a nation. What the Blairites, Tories and other conservatives fear is that Corbyn inspires people with a vision that there is an alternative to vision as usual. The reason so many economists support Corbyn is because he has grasped that the foundations of the economy have changed and that the old ways of managing the economy are no longer working. Corbyn is prepared to think the unthinkable and take radical action to redistribute the wealth and power of our country to give everyone a real stake in the future (whether they’re a mother or not). For all the abuse he receives it is obvious that Corbyn owes more to Cooperators and Trades Unionism than theoretical socialism of a Marxian kind. His socialism, although he may not admit it, owes more to the Gospels than Marx and to the British socialist movements like the Diggers and Levellers than to anything as foreign as the Bolsheviks. The only reason anyone accuses Corbyn of Bolshevism is to play on the prejudices of an English education where history has been manipulated to protect the establishment. (in Scotland to be called a Bolshevik is a compliment, but our heroes are people like Maclean, Maxton, Hardie, Connolly and Barbour). Look at the workload he handles and you see that the Labour tradition into which he belongs is that of Fenner Brockway, Philip Noel-Baker and Tony Benn. Look at the huge rise in Labour Party membership under Corbyn. Look at the thousands of ordinary (and not so ordinary) men and women who attend his rallies. Look at the thousands of volunteers willing to give up their time and energy to campaign for him. Whatever Jeremy Corbyn may or may not be, only a fool would deny that he is a leader. Whatever Jeremy Corbyn may or may not be what is obvious to any sensible person is that he is a leader, an inspiring leader, a visionary leader. A leader able and prepared to break the mould that has confined our stagnating nation for three quarters of a century. A better world is possible only if we are prepared to get off our knees and grasp it so I will stand beside Corbyn. I would rather die on my feet than continue to live on my knees.

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