Thursday, 25 August 2016

Why I voted for Owen Smith even though I think he's a bit of a dick.

I just voted for Owen Smith in the Labour leadership election despite the fact he strikes me as a bit of dick, despite the fact I think he will never be Prime Minister, and despite the fact he suggested we should have talks with ISIS. That was an idiotic thing to say and Corbyn and his supporters were right to say so. It was also an idiotic thing to say when Corbyn said it in January.

I've voted for Owen Smith because I believe Jeremy Corbyn is the worst thing to have happened to British politics in my lifetime. I say that as a man who was alive when Liz Truss made this speech...

I honestly, perhaps delusionally, think there's a chance Owen Smith could win this election. Probably about a one in four chance, but a chance nonetheless, and that's why I'm writing this post. It's a last ditch attempt to try and persuade some floating voters. Below are a list of the key reasons I think Corbyn has to go for the good of the nation. That might look hyperbolic but I mean it.

Let's start with the big stuff. He supported the IRA, he refused to say whether he'd support a NATO ally if Russia attacked it and he took money from the gay murdering, female prisioner raping Iranian regime to propagandise on their behalf.

None of those statements are smears. They are facts.

Now because this is supposed to be a persuasive blog post, I'll start with a concession - there are arguments in favour of all those things. I, like you, have a Chomsky book on my shelf which I tell people I finished reading. But when we get to an election, a real life general election, how do we think those uncomfortable facts about Corbyn will go down? I would suggest they will contribute to Labour's utter, potentially irreversible annihilation. Last election, the Tories beat Miliband with a picture of him eating a bacon sandwich, in the next one they'll be able to point out that the Shadow Chancellor praised the 'bombs and bullets' of the IRA.

Having conceded that there are arguments in favour of those things, I hope you'll allow me to point out that those arguments are bollocks. Starting with the IRA, as the article I've linked to points out, why didn't Corbyn support those Irish Republican politicians in favour of a peaceful solution and not those in favour of kneecapping? I've seen Corbyn supporters comparing him with Martin Luther King. Which route would MLK have taken? Jeremy is not anti violence. He is anti British violence.

In the link above about NATO, Corbyn says the following... "I don't wish to go to war, I want to achieve a world in which there is no need to go to war". Saying you would protect a NATO ally militarily if Russia attacked is the number one way of preventing such a war from happening. That's all you have to do. Say you'd do it and you near enough guarantee you won't have to. Just say it mate. It's a funny old thing I know, but it works. I believe the vast majority of the voting public understands this. I am aware of only one other major politician in the West who has talked about disbanding NATO recently and he wants to Make America Great Again.

And then there's Iran. I've seen Corbyn supporters suggest he was engaging in diplomacy. If he had gone on Iranian State television and in any way criticised the regime I might have been persuaded this was a useful exercise. He didn't. What he did, in effect, is align himself with a facist, totalitarian state simply because it opposed Israel and America. Shouldn't a left wing, liberal, supposed supporter of human rights be looking to stand up for those in Iran who feel the same rather than supporting their oppressors?

This is getting heavy.

Let's lighten things up with some electability stuff. In the words of Jennifer Aniston in that shampoo advert - 'Now for the science bit - concentrate'. Here is a graph of the Westminster polling averages since June 2015.

A lot of people have been saying that Labour were ahead in the polls before the coup to get rid of Corbyn. This graph from Britain Elects proves that's not really the case. There was a poll not long before the referendum in which Labour were ahead. One poll. When you average out the polls since he came in you get a much clearer picture of what is actually happening. At this stage in the electoral cycle Miliband's Labour was way ahead. Miliband lost. Corbyn's personal ratings are even worse. He literally has the worst poll ratings of any opposition leader since polling began.

There are two arguments against this.

1) Why do you trust the polls? Look at the size of the rallies!

Yes, the polls for the general election got it wrong but they were a LOT closer and as they always seem to do, they overestimated Labour's vote, they didn't underestimate it. As for the rallies, it's been pointed out that the Tories don't hold rallies and yet they somehow won an election. Nate Silver stuck a quote on twitter yesterday which I'm going to steal. It's from Walter Mondale the Democratic candidate for President in 1984...

"There's something going on in this country and the pollsters aren't getting it. Nobody who's been with me for the last few days and has seen these crowds, seen their response, seen their enthusiasm, seen the intensity of their response and how they respond to these issues, no one who's been where I've been, can help but believe that there's something happening in this country"

A week later, in the general election, Ronald Reagan won 49 of the 50 American states. FORTY NINE.

The other argument goes like this...

2) IT'S NOT FAIR!!!!!!

The media has not been supportive of Jeremy Corbyn. I don't think this is because the establishment are scared of him. I think it is because he and his team are BAD AT POLITICS. That traingate scandal is bollocks. It really doesn't matter. But when it was all kicking off, his team gave about eight different excuses and couldn't get through to Jeremy to devise a coherent response because he was making jam. Now, it is possible that that is not true. But be honest, you know deep down in your heart that it probably is. Then there's the way Corbyn responded when asked about it...

Now, you may agree with the way he responded to this and the 'ANGRY' in the video title does overstate it somewhat. He's right. The NHS is far more important.  But imagine Corbyn in the last week of an election campaign, under constant scrutiny.  I think we'd get a lot of this...

Now, that is how a normal person might react under constant pressure. It's also well funny. But is it how someone you can picture being elected Prime Minister would react? Yes, it's not fair but it's just a simple truth that the answer is no.

Is Owen Smith Prime Minister material? Probably not. But I do think he is capable of leading the Labour Party to mere electoral disaster rather than electoral oblivion. And in the aftermath I think he is capable of leading a functional opposition able to make things difficult for the Conservative Party. I also believe he is capable, and this is pretty much the nub of it, of keeping the Labour Party alive as a political force.

I accept that for a lot of people Jeremy Corbyn represents a kind of ideological purity. He represents a good guy against the forces of evil. As you'll have noticed, I don't agree. His record demonstrates that he is, I'm afraid, not that bright. But even if he is the Prep school educated, thirty three year long professional politician, Down To Earth Champion Of The Worker that the memes say he is - please consider whether he stands a chance of ever implementing a single policy.

I went on that Iraq War march in 2003 because I thought the war seemed like a bad idea. It did not occur to me that it would result in the British left abandoning virtually every single capable politician it has in favour of a false messiah.

This has been a long, po-faced blog post. That is because I haven't felt as strongly about something political since that war. Until recently I always did my politics on my own, in a darkened corner of a room. Now I am openly pleading with you to vote for Labour to be a party that has an influence on parliament and not just twitter. Unless you don't have a vote in which case, don't worry, I'm sure everything will be fine.


  1. Good post. Funny, too.

    The IRA and Iran PressTV stuff is the killer, for me. Without them, Corbyn's just a bumbling idiot. With them, he's a horrible hypocrite, and maybe a horrible person, too. At the very least he's dangerously naïve and dimwitted.

    As Alex Massie has said, stripping the bark from Corbyn in an election campaign will be child's play for the Tories.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks. Yes, there's plenty more grim stuff of that ilk which I'm sure you've seen. I just picked out a couple of my favourites.

    2. There's also his continued and baffling toleration/promotion of Dianne Abbott.

      When a political party send her out to firefight on the Today programme, something has gone seriously wrong

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