Dear Uncle James
Thank you for your thought-provoking comments on my last letter (8 July). I accept that personality played a part in my deciding who to vote for. However it also seems to me that your own criticism of the Labour party is centred around personality — i.e. based on Jeremy Corbyn’s personal view of socialism rather than the actual policies put forward by the Labour party, which are not socialist.
I agree that socialism hasn’t worked in the examples you’ve given. However, I don’t think that this is relevant to us today since a Labour government would not turn the UK into a socialist dictatorship.
When it comes to policy, it is those of the Conservative party that caused me concern. Their manifesto was widely acknowledged to be a disaster, with George Osborne calling it the worst manifesto in history. They have made so many U-turns and removed so many manifesto pledges that I find it hard to know what their policies are. Instead our Prime Minister comes out with meaningless slogans such as ‘Brexit means Brexit’.
Theresa May also told a nurse on Question Time last month that the reason she hadn’t received a real terms pay rise in eight years was because there is no magic money tree. However, last week this nonexistent tree bore fruit of £1 billion as a bribe to the DUP so that the PM could keep her job.
I think Jeremy Corbyn was wrong to support Hugo Chávez. However, I don’t think the comparison with Venezuela is valid, because the policies which destroyed that country’s economy (e.g. the price controls and multiple exchange rates) are not those of the Labour party. I’m no expert on Venezuela but spoke to a Venezuelan friend who explained that Chávez used his control of the media to portray himself as a socialist reformer whereas the reality of his actions was very different. It’s difficult to see the UK’s predominantly right-wing print media being coerced into peddling Corbynist propaganda and replicating that situation here. In fact, we currently have the Conservatives trying to influence the narrative with Andrea Leadsom’s call for the media to be more patriotic (i.e. less critical).
So while I don’t necessarily agree with everything Jeremy Corbyn says or does, I do find the Labour party’s social democratic policies to be a far more attractive proposition than the apparently ever-changing policies proposed by the Conservatives.
Respectfully yours, Sebastian.