Described by Leo Mckinstry of the Daily Telegraph, as a ‘Marxist mediocrity devoid of experience but awash with extremism’, Jeremy Corbyn has rarely had a moment out of the spotlight since his emphatic victory in the Labour leadership contest. The Conservative party and the right-wing press maintain the belief that Corbyn is unelectable in 2020 on the grounds that he lacks leadership qualities, his policies are nonsensical and that in being leader, he is dividing the Labour Party, pushing centre-left voters away and enticing the more radical lefties of the 1980s. Unfortunately, I concede that to some extent this is true. It seems that many are scared of the ideas that Corbyn presents for the future, as admittedly they are radically different from the norms of mainstream Labour politics. But what exactly are these controversial views that herald Corbyn as the joke of British politics, and are they in fact as ludicrous as we are lead to believe?
Corbyn’s foreign policy and ideas on the subject of defence, have particularly come under fire as a result of his description of Hamas as ‘friends’. This wording unfortunately lead to the new Labour leader being described as a comrade of extremism. However defending his comments in an interview, Corbyn said to Channel 4, ‘I think to bring about peace you have to talk to people with whom you profoundly disagree’. These pacifist ideas continue with his belief that the renewal of Trident (costing £100 billion) should not go ahead and that we, as a nation, should desist from entering conflicts abroad. Both these ideas seem to make sense as by entering wars such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan we have only made matters worse, and arguably, the instability in the Middle East is mainly a result of the doings of the UK and USA. Therefore, Corbyn’s ambition to encourage peace talks between groups involved in conflict, and to have less involvement in foreign affairs might be for the best.
Corbynfront also pledges that £10billion of the money saved by not renewing our nuclear weapons would go on raising the standard of free education and scrapping university tuition fees This would mean that you could go to university without the prospect of crippling, lifelong debt, benefiting both the individual and the economy. As well as this, some of £100 billion would go towards the construction of 100,000 council homes that Labour would build every year. With low rent levels and an increased supply of social housing, the damage done by Thatcher in selling off Council Houses would be undone. In addition, Corbyn would increase funding for the NHS and remove private sector involvement, thus improving our health service and keeping it free for all to use. Now all of these ideas seem well and good, benefiting the wider community and helping to raise the general standard of living, but one decision to not renew Trident, couldn’t pay for it all.
Funding Corbyn’s spending spree would be a 7% rise in national insurance contributions of the lucky few that earn over £50,000 per year and a 2.5% increase in corporation tax. Now a Tory would say that a good economy is built on a meritocratic society, that benefits the ‘hardworking’, motivating everyone to pursue better paid jobs. But the facts are that there are plenty of people in low paid jobs that are just as diligent, if not more so, than those that are considerably better off than them, and that the Tories are enhancing the gap between the rich and poor. This is exemplified by the new ‘Living Wage’ campaign implemented by the Conservatives to try and attract working class voters at the latest general election. Cameron claimed that by increasing the minimum wage to a ‘living wage’ of £7.20 per hour, the poorest members of society would be much better off. However, the national living wage was previously calculated by The Living Wage foundation, who took into account people’s living costs and how much money people need to earn to pay for them. They concluded that the national living wage was actually £7.85 and therefore, Osborne’s living wage is merely a higher minimum wage that plunges Britain’s most vulnerable citizens, deeper into poverty. Corbyn’s ideas for moderate redistribution of wealth would see the development of the welfare sector and the instigation of a REAL minimum wage instead of one manufactured by political spin. Obviously the knock on effect of this would mean that those in higher paid jobs would be worse off, although they would still live comfortably, just without the ability to buy their sons an unnecessarily expensive suit on entrance into the MGS sixth form. I also don’t believe that this would harm people’s ambitions to enter professions such as medicine or law, that are very well paid, as it would sort those that are interested only in money from those with a passion for their desired occupation.
If you’re still adamant that Corbyn’s vision of a more equal society would not see the same rate of economic growth than that under the Conservatives, then think again. Whilst claiming they have undone the damning work of Brown and Blair, by resurrecting the corpse of our economy, the facts suggest that the Conservative Party have done very little for economic development. According to New Statesman Magazine, economies usually grow every year due to the development of better equipment, skills and technical innovation, and as a result of this the British economy has grown by 2.5% every year since 1945. In fact after recessions, economic growth tends to accelerate due to the maintenance of low interest rates without the risk of inflation. So this raises the question why interest rates have been kept at 0.5% per year between 2010-15, does the economy only grow at 1.5% per year, and mostly due to population increase instead of enhanced productivity? The answer is simple. Austerity measures have been far too harsh, combining with the raising of VAT and a reduction in Capital spending, resulting in the economy being brought to a stand still. Jeremy Corbyn’s alternative approach of taxing the wealthy and investing in the NHS and Education, would not worsen economic growth and could potentially increase it.
However the question still remains over the electability of Jeremy Corbyn, as many amongst the electorate and even the Labour Party would not support him in the 2020 General Election. However I believe that he has time to change public opinion, potentially gaining votes from the SNP and and the Liberal Democrats, as well as some of the 33% of those eligible to vote who abstained at the last election. Even if Corbyn choses to resign before the 2020 he is certainly taking Labour in the right direction, providing stimulating opposition for the Conservative Party and introducing a refreshing more honest style of politics.