Tuesday 9 May 2017

Spot the difference

The contrast between the election campaigns of the two candidates vying to become Prime Minister of the UK couldn't be more stark.

The contrast

Jeremy Corbyn has always stood on the side of ordinary people and is totally in his element when he's out meeting the public and listening to their concerns. His election campaign rallies are open to the public, and have been attracting huge crowds up and down the country. The picture in the article header doesn't even tell the whole story of his visit to the Tory held seat of Leamington Spa. I had to crop it to make it fit, and the original image still didn't capture the full size of the crowd!

Jeremy Corbyn believes that ordinary people should be given a lot more influence over the political system, from their own local communities up to the Westminster government. It's this message of giving more power to the people and creating a political system and an economy that works for the many and not the few that has resonated so strongly with politically engaged people and created a Labour Party membership surge to over half a million (more than double the Tories and the Lib-Dems combined).

Theresa May's micro-managed campaign events make it absolutely clear that she's the elitist establishment candidate who believes that politics needs to be tightly controlled by a tiny cabal of political insiders. The picture from her campaign even in York reveals that, once again, she's not there to meet the voters, she's there to insulate herself in a Tory "safe space" filled with Tory councillors and Tory activists. Ordinary members of the public are simply not welcome.

The carefully selected propaganda at Theresa May's event is telling too, in the way that the posters don't even include the word Conservative or the Tory party branding. It's all about her, because to Theresa May the idea of giving ordinary people more power to influence the political system is as abhorrent and unthinkable as letting the great unwashed into her meticulously micro-managed Tory safe spaces. She thinks that what this country needs is a tyrant who will make all of the big decisions by herself with as little scrutiny and opposition as possible.

The problem

The problem of course is that after decades of slick political propaganda from the likes of Thatcher, Blair and Cameron, the sight of a politician attracting huge crowds and completely failing to talk in repetitive slogans and sound bites looks massively out of place. Some people are actually intimidated by the crowds because the idea of being genuinely enthusiastic about politics is as alien to them as the idea that of letting "the lower orders" into her campaign events is to Theresa May.

Some people will look at the crowds of support for Jeremy Corbyn and his easy willingness to mix and mingle with the public as an untidy aberration, and they'll look at Theresa May's autocratic insistence on only allowing smartly dressed Tory party loyalists anywhere near her as the kind of orderly politics they want to see.

The kind of people who like Theresa May's slick presentation and aloof insistence that the ordinary public are excluded from her events are the kind of people who have no trust in themselves or their communities to make political decisions for themselves. Deep in their hearts they don't want more power devolved to them and people like them, they want a powerful autocrat to rule over the nation with an iron fist.

The danger

The obvious elephant in the room is that whoever becomes Prime Minister is going to have to lead the UK into the most complex, challenging and risky diplomatic process in history, and if they screw it up and turn the EU 27 against us, the British public are going to suffer the consequences of the ensuing economic crisis for decades.

Theresa May's approach to the Brexit process has been to issue an ever escalating series of threats before the negotiations have even stated (give me what I want or I'll blow up an economic bomb over your countries ... I'll turn the UK into a tax haven ... I'll turn a blind eye to terrorism threats against your countries ...) and the way that she is micro-managing her election campaign really does not bode well.

She may have got away with tyrannical micro-management at the Home Office for six years (in which she spectacularly failed by her own measure of success), and she may well win the general election by micro-managing her election campaign to minimise any attempts to scrutinise her party's dire track record or the reckless game of brinkmanship she's turning the Brexit negotiations into, but she's never ever going to be able to micro-manage a 27 vs 1 diplomatic process is she?

We all know one of these bossy micro-manager types don't we? A boss, a family member, a sometimes very difficult to tolerate friend.

And we all know how appallingly these micro-managing tyrant types can get when things don't go the way they planned don't we? We've all seen the destructive fits of rage.

So we can all see the danger can't we?

The compromise candidate

Jeremy Corbyn is clearly the kind of man who can talk to anyone. The man on the street, the head teacher, the small businessman, children, even the disloyal Labour MPs who stabbed him in the back last summer ...

If anyone can work to win allies amongst the EU 27 and negotiate us a good deal for Britain it's actually got to be someone like that.

Of course the Brexit deal will be worse for the UK than the deal that we're walking away from, but if anyone can steer a course towards a mutually beneficial compromise then it's far more likely to be Jeremy Corbyn that Theresa May.

An autocratic micro-manager spouting ever more extreme threats and conspiracy theories is highly unlikely to get us a good deal.

Jeremy Corbyn might well fail too because it's going to be far from easy, but at least he'd approach the negotiations offering a hand of friendship, a steely determination to protect the livelihoods of British people, and a desire to achieve the best possible outcome for both sides.

You don't have to be a psychologist to see which approach has the best chance of averting a catastrophic "no deal" cliff edge Brexit and securing a deal that protects British people and their rights.


It's difficult for me to understand how so many millions of people can look at the slick micro-managed political elitism of the Theresa May campaign and actually like it, but then I'm a political enthusiast who strongly agrees with Jeremy Corbyn's idea that the politicians should work for the people, not the other way around.

Many people prefer the idea of an autocratic tyrant to rule over them because it makes them feel safe. They'd rather live trampled down under the boots of a cabal of political elitists who openly despise them, than live in a society where their friends, family and neighbours are given more say over how things are done.

What we can do

  • Talk to people about Theresa May's continued refusal to engage with the public, her cowardly refusal to participate in televised debates, and her autocratic micro-managing tendencies. Ask them if they think it's possible to be a good leader if you insulate yourself from the ordinary public, hide from scrutiny, and have a tendency to fly into fits of rage when things don't go exactly the way you planned them.
  • Get out and campaign against the Tories. It's no good just agreeing with this article and sharing it on Facebook. You've got to get out there and talk to other people.

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