Ed West

Corbynmania has shaken my faith in my own loony right-wing opinions

Corbynmania has shaken my faith in my own loony right-wing opinions
Text settings

I used to consider myself to be in tune with the general public on politics, by which I meant – on the loony wing of the Tory party. After all, I told myself, we have widespread public support on crime, immigration, Europe and most issues involving morality. Things had only gone wrong because a modernising clique based in Notting Hill wanted to reject true conservatism and embrace social liberalism, a liberalism that is neither popular nor especially rational or workable.

But I have to say that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership bid has rather shaken my confidence in the whole 'authentic right' thing. Seeing all the arguments being made by the Corbynites is like witnessing a middle-aged drunk ranting on about his favourite subject, seeing how obviously stupid this small little man’s idiotic opinions are, before realising ‘hey, he sounds just like me’. To those on the more populist wing of conservatism, Corbynmania is like a visit to Rugged Island from Father Ted; everything looks different, but there’s somehow a similar air of drunken idiocy.

The actual political comparisons between Corbynmania and right-wing populism are superficial, although enough to notice; both are built on a certain nostalgia for the 1970s, both appeal to those who have lost out from globalisation, both are hostile to what London has become.

But while Ukip’s support is disproportionately male, old, provincial, non-university educated and concerned by shrinking social solidarity, the Corbynites seem to be drawn from a similar demographic to the Greens – public sector workers and political radicals from London.

And while a poujadist political programme is at least coherent, Corbynism, like the Green party’s platform, is filled with contradictions, being an alliance of different identity groups who often have wildly variant aims.

This was exemplified by Corbyn’s recent announcement that he’d like to re-open coal mines in Wales. People lament the end of the mines because their closure led to the end of well-paid working-class jobs and the collapse of local communities. But much of Corbyn’s support comes from reddish-greens - he’s a vegetarian teetotal cyclist, the dark triad of evil – who were confused by the idea of reintroducing a fossil fuel. (And were we to re-open mines in Britain, they’d certainly be filled by Romanians and Poles anyway).

What disturbs me, though, is the Labour left’s wilful embrace of political destruction, and their totally deluded belief that large swathes of the public are willing to join them in this crusade to oblivion. That’s too much like staring into the mirror for my liking.

Their argument is that the public generally supports renationalisation of the railways and the utilities, as well as forcing the rich to go through a Cersei-style walk of shame; the same argument we on the right have been making on a number of issues, chiefly immigration.

In this sense they certainly do mirror the Tory right/Ukip in their hope for authentic conservatism, when the evidence suggests that many people are apathetic about politics and the others are generally pragmatic, and mostly concerned that the government runs the economy properly. Maybe deep down most members of the public think that, however awful the liberal elite are, they probably just understand these issues better than most people; in the same way that people who work in publishing know more about literature than any random person plucked off the street and asked who should win the Booker prize.

At the time of New Labour, many people seemed obsessed with the idea that the party was made up of a bunch of control freaks and that all decisions were made by a small clique in Islington. After the last few weeks, having listened to many in the Labour party, all I can say is – thank heavens for that. Come back Blair, Campbell and Mandelson, all is forgiven!