As phase one of Corbyn Mark 2.0, the Labour leader has given a series of interviews and filmed his New Year message. From this we can glean what the “populist re-launch” will look like. All I can say so far is: oh dear.
Let’s see what the supreme leader has told the Mirror:
“I will challenge UKIP on the basis that UKIP attacks minorities who run our health service, offers to privatise the health service but doesn’t offer to build any houses, doesn’t offer to deal with the issues facing communities and doesn’t do anything to challenge the appalling underfunding of local government, particularly in the poorest areas.”
There is a lot to say here. First, I know I have said a lot myself about UKIP being a threat to Labour, particularly in Leave voting portions of northern England. But the Labour leader himself talking up said threat is not a good look. It’s like he’s advertising the fact that UKIP isn’t a wasted vote to those ex-Labour voters annoyed with the whole Corbyn thing. Secondly, for what is supposed to be an anti-establishment message, it is remarkably geared at Momentum members, which it is fair to say, are already down with the programme. Don’t go on about “building houses” – most voters don’t really want more houses built, and the Left has a job to do convincing people building houses is a good idea in the first place (which needs to happen, incidentally). It is the very essence of establishment politics to just say things at people, ignoring their actual concerns. The only bit of the above Corbyn quote that addresses any genuine bread and butter worries at all is the stuff about the NHS, which people don’t really listen to Labour about anymore since a). they talk about it too much and b). several years ago they told people that the Lansley reforms would destroy the NHS completely (“we have three months to save the NHS!”) and when they went through (albeit in amended form) and the NHS kept going, there was a Boy Who Cried Wolf thing that kicked in.
The New Year’s message video is even worse. Here we get the full-on half-assed attempt at “populism”.
“We won’t be blocking our leaving the European Union, but we won’t stand by.”
What does that mean? There are either situations under which you would not allow Article 50 to be triggered or you will let it pass regardless of May’s plans. This is binary – and yet here is Corbyn, trying to be neither a 1 or a 0, as usual on the Brexit issue. He does discuss Brexit as an opportunity, however.
“We now have the chance to do things differently. To build an economy that invests and works for everyone across all our nations and regions.”
This is politician speak 101. Is the “populist re-launch” really just about trying to get Corbyn up to the minimum acceptable level of what used to pass as Westminster leadership? Is Labour HQ throwing everything at turning Jeremy Corbyn into a slightly less good version of Ed Miliband?
You want to be populist (or least populist-esque), Corbyn? Just say what you mean. You want to turn Britain into a fully socialist country. Or maybe you don’t anymore, who knows. Whatever it is you want that is supposedly radical, just spit it out. More politician speak won’t win anyone over who’s not already a Momentum member.