If you want to eat in Venezuela, you must get in the queue early. State controlled supermarkets are so low on stock that people arrive from 3am, desperate for bread. The only other option is the black market, where prices can be prohibitive. Venezuelan wages have fallen by 35% in the last year alone, and three-quarters of the population are classed as "poor", up from just over half two years ago. Inflation runs at over 700%. Millions are forced to skip at least one meal a day.
This is the country which Jeremy Corbyn hailed as a shining example of socialism. This is the government he praised for "showing that the poor matter". And this is why his position as leader of our main left-wing party is so worrying. I would not want to live in Venezuela. I would venture to predict that most Brits would not want to live in Venezuela. Call me a cold-hearted capitalist, but I do not think that making poor people poorer suggests they matter at all.
I began this article with Venezuela to make clear the real-life danger of ideas. I do not think Corbyn is a bad man, but I think he has bad ideas, and history proves that bad ideas can have serious and negative consequences on the lives of the people subjected to them. Corbyn is no fringe protestor or barely-known backbencher. He is the leader of an opposition party in a country that is essentially a two-party state, and this prominence makes his ideas matter, for better or for worse. Of all those who will suffer for Corbyn's ideas, I think the ones who will suffer the most are those with the most future to lose: the young. Young, liberal leftwingers have become emblematic of Corbynism. He will disappoint them.
Consider Brexit. To be clear, I don't blame Corbyn for the overall result. The recent anti-immigration overtures of several Labour MPs stand as enough of a litmus test that many Labour voters were always xenophobic enough to vote Leave, regardless of their party leader. But I do blame Corbyn for allowing, through his lacklustre campaign and refusal to speak on the same platform as Tory Remainers, the In campaign seem like the initiative of an unpopular Tory government. I doubt I am the only person who encountered several voters who equated an Out vote with a dismissal of the Tory government they disagreed with.
If the weakness of Corbyn's In campaign was merely political ineptitude then that would be bad enough. But a study of Corbyn's past voting habits and the comments of his friends and allies suggests that Corbyn is naturally against the European project. This is not surprising for anyone familiar with old-school left-wing politics, but it should sit uncomfortably with pro-EU Corbynites, who were not given the vocal support they expected. Over 70% of young people voted Remain. They deserve to have at least one potential PM who will sincerely fight for their beliefs against the hard-Brexiteer Tories threatening to tear their globalised world apart.
It's not just Brexit. I believe Corbyn will fail to deliver on any of his promises to the young. His problems are three-fold: (1) He is unelectable, rendering any policies he proposes moot. (2) His only avenue to election is to sacrifice policies which are particularly important to the young. (3) Even if an unprecedented snafu meant he was elected on his current policy platform, I think his policies are economically illiterate and will therefore fail to deliver the promised results.
The verity of point one should be self-evident to anyone who has glanced at recent polls. Labour is currently polling 18 points below the Conservatives, who are on a majority-clinching 47%. To put that another way, Labour are on their lowest share of the votes since 2009, and the Tories are on their highest share of the votes since 1959. Chuck Corbyn out, however, and voting intentions for Labour would jump to 48%. Or, in other words: Corbyn is currently guaranteeing a Tory victory should the election be called tomorrow. This is bad news for non-Conservatives, and particularly bad news for young people, whose apathy to voting and antipathy towards Tories may go some way to explain why they have been by far the biggest losers under a Conservative government.
Corbyn, presumably, would prefer to reverse his losing streak among voters. As any savvy strategist would suggest, the best way to do this is to shift his political stance to align with more voters. Good targets would be the older, traditionally-Labour working-class voters who currently hold him in high distain. Luckily for Corbyn, these same voters are amenable to many of his policies, such as investment in manufacturing, an end to NHS privatisation, building council houses and a "guarantee [of] a decent job for all". What they don't like is unfettered immigration or globalisation. Considering Corbyn's own protectionist impulses, it's not inconceivable that this might be a bargain he could stomach. (Anyone who still believes Corbyn is morally above such politicking would do well to recall Traingate). Pro-immigrantion and pro-globalisation, it is the young who would have their values sacrificed.
Of course, polls can be wildly incorrect. Elections are wildly unpredictable. It not completely impossible that Corbyn could convert the masses to an extent that would give him a mandate to fully implement his socialist policies without bending on a single principal. But, just like Venezuela, Britain would go bust.
I believe Corbynomics are economically unsound. His profligate plans are funded by revenue that doesn't exist. The introduction of "People's QE" would lay the groundwork for hyper-inflation. Super-taxes on the rich may sound like the fairest way to fill government coffers, but a quick chat with French President Francois Hollande would illuminate the unintended consequences. The economy would tank and the young would again be left with no money, no houses, and no jobs.
At least Venezuela is sunny.
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