On Thursday evening comedian Robert Webb laid out his objections to Jeremy Corbyn on twitter, ad it really unsettled me. Not because it was an expletive laden rant, or because he's a privileged, middle class white man, or because it was an ill-thought inarticulate diatribe of bile, but precisely because it wasn't and he isn't. I signed up to vote in the labour leadership elections because I saw, In Corbyn, somebody I actually wanted to vote for. But an articulate and well-informed critique from an intelligent and educated individual has raised doubts in my mind. Would I be right to vote for Jeremy Corbyn?
The first question to address is what the four candidates are claiming they would do. I'm not going to stoop to calling Liz Kendall a Tory, but her proposals are too right wing for my blood. Yvette Cooper has some more interesting ideas, but she has set out her stall, among other things, as pro-business. Sadly, to my mind, you can side with employees and consumers or you can side with business, or you can be impartial. For me, Yvette has picked the wrong side. Andy Burnham's policies in some areas are a little vague. His plan for a commission sounds an awful lot like 'we'll look into it and discover that we can't actually do it' and his most striking policy -rail renationalisation- is one he shared with -even borrowed from- Corbyn. I'm not levelling any major criticisms, I just think Corbyn's policies -which I agree won't all happen and aren't all brilliant- are the closest to what I want from a Labour Party.
Then of course there is the vexed question of whether or not Corbyn is electable. Here I have a startling newsflash for you- nobody knows who will win the next election. Not Webb, or Blair, or anyone else claiming to know who will or won't win. Even Rupert Murdoch probably hasn't made his mind up yet. One argument is that labour need to win back Tory voters and it doesn't seem unreasonable to suggest that Corbyn won't do that. But another suggests that labour need votes from the many who never bothered -who didn't see the point- and Corbyn does seem to be leading the way in drawing in new voters for his party. Being put off by what might happen seems to me a little bit weak-willed. Nothing will change if we assume it won't, if we shrug our shoulders and just accept that we can't have what we want.
Even if you could definitely prove that, say, Burnham will get elected and Corbyn won't, I'm not even sure that would win him my vote. I don't want Labour to win power with a series of policies designed to win power, I want them to take on the policies I believe are right and persuade the electorate to believe in them. If I have to accept that the things that Corbyn is promising won't happen because nobody wants them then what's the point? Should I vote for one of the other three because they're a more marketable product? I might have taken Blair's Britain over a Conservative alternative, but it was never what I wanted. If 'vote for me, I'm the best you'll get' becomes an election slogan worth the writing I might as well burn my ballot paper now and go and live in a cave, or Bexhill.
So there, I'm still voting the way I intended to from the start. Because it's what I want, and because the only way to get what you want is to ask for it. I voted Liberal Democrat in the General Election because it was the least worst option that might come to anything, and in the end it didn't. Now I have a choice I actually want to take that might actually lead to the result I want. That sort of chance doesn't happen often in politics, so I'm taking it while I can.