Having watched the televised, separate, public ‘interviews’ with Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, last night, I don’t know whether to be in despair or incandescent with anger.
I feel despair because, once again, Jeremy Corbyn showed why he is seen as unelectable as Prime Minister, even by some Labour supporters. I’m a Labour supporter, and sometime activist and member of the Labour Party, but even I was unconvinced – and I voted for him as leader. I cringed. He did well on his firmest ground, unfairness, inequalities, lost opportunities: the socialist agenda. He was utterly hopeless on defence and, especially, nuclear weapons. He proved totally unable to step away from his principled stand, which is broadly that of a disarmer, into the here and now. Instead of ducking the question and making weak (if correct) statements about avoiding conflict with dialogue, he could have pointed to Britain’s membership of NATO. He could have said that, although our weapons are (questionably) independent they would, in reality, never be used outside of the NATO treaty. He could also have said that many members of NATO do not have nuclear weapons. He could have said that the UK’s nuclear weapons are a deterrent, not a first strike weapon and that, if they were to be used then the whole theory of deterrence would have failed. He could have said that, as a last resort, they might have to be used. He couldn’t have said, though it is true, that the UK has continued to develop other, equally horrible, weapons. He could have made more of the passing reference to the Conservatives having eviscerated our military capability. He could have mentioned the obscenity of food banks; he could have said a lot, but he’s not fleet of foot, not a cut-and-thrust, counter-punching, ‘street fighter’. He’s too nice, and his unwillingness to answer a binary question just looked ‘shifty’, but his tenedency to look perplexed and irritated by some questioners was damaging too. It was absolutely not good enough to answer a question, however loaded, about policy detail by telling the questioner to read the manifesto! For one thing, it seemed like he didin’t know the answer himself.
I feel anger because, despite Theresa May having showed just how patronising, uncaring and unconnected she is, she will still be Prime Minister on June 9th. Faced with personal and harrowing evidence of the impact of her, and the 2010/15, Conservative government’s, austerity policies all she could say is “I’m not going to make excuses (for bad treatment) but hard choices had to be made.” Hard choices like funding cuts in Corporation tax by taking away benefits from disabled people? She doesn’t know what ‘hard’ is: try having to decide between feeding your children or keeping them warm. That’s a hard choice. We know that money doesn’t grow on trees, Treeze, but what you do with the money available is what’s at issue here.
I’m in despair because the Labour Party ‘heavyweights’ have, for the most part, been invisible and unheard throughout the campaign so far. The 2017 General Election could go down as the Labour Party’s worst own goal in history. It’s not about Corbyn, it’s about Labour, you selfish dummies! What a waste. If only….