Jeremy’s Dilemma

by stephenpalmersf

Who would be an idealist in a cut-throat, ‘realist’ system designed for boys?

Jeremy Corbyn is, as Hilary Benn observed yesterday, “a good and decent man,” but apparently he is no leader. Why might that be?

The current, spectacular round of in-fighting in Labour is rooted in this dilemma: to govern in a profoundly flawed system you have to take on the attributes not only of the system but of the grinning face of the system, ie the Tories. You have to move to the right. You have to be realist, pragmatist. You can’t be an idealist, which is what I think Jeremy Corbyn is.

New Labour managed three terms in government by becoming Tories; or maybe they were Tory Lite. And Blair is now as loathed as Thatcher, as are many of his smirking cronies.

Alas, Jeremy Corbyn is never going to be elected Prime Minister of Britain. It would be nice if he was, but no – that ain’t going to happen. To be elected he would have to ditch his excellent, humane and entirely admirable principles in order to become a bog-standard politician.

The media don’t want him either. They like an ambitious, competitive, ‘charismatic’ person, so they can sell lots of newspapers. In short, they want a boy.

But you can’t change the system from the inside. Yes, you can make some minor adjustments, and, once in a blue moon, if history happens to be on your side (NHS 1948), you can make a difference. But I don’t really see the point of decent politicians waiting for those one or two instances every century where a real difference can be made.

What then is the alternative? I never vote in general elections because on every occasion I’ve lived in a safe seat, which makes my vote, along with the votes of the majority of British people, meaningless. This, as I’m often told, means I don’t have the right to complain.

But, I don’t complain. I do comment, yes, like here, but that’s hardly the same thing.

Idealists such as myself have a different role to realists. Idealists make signposts: realists build the actual paths. But without signposts, how will realists know in which direction to go?

The only sane alternative for an idealist is to reject the system and lead by example. Support your local economy (eg food-buying) wherever possible; vote locally when you know the people involved; make the effort to recycle everything that can be recycled; tread lightly on the planet, especially regarding travel; consider education to be a never-completed task. The most effective thing you could do for the planet is become a vegetarian, which I can say from personal experience is not that difficult.

And if you do have a voice, use it for the sake of humanity. Politicians could do with hearing a few more sane voices. Politicians could do with listening to Jeremy Corbyn, even as they dismiss him for being out-of-touch. Yes, he is out-of-touch. In an inhumane system, any human being will be.