Would you support Labour if George Clooney was leading it instead of Jeremy Corbyn?


If Clooney was leading the Labour Party, the media would think up a hundred reasons why he was wrong for the job.

Source: Michael Rosen

There are varied approaches in the attempted destruction of Jeremy Corbyn. The reason for the attempted destruction is that in an extremely mild way, he and those who support him are in favour of higher pay, better conditions of work, no cuts to public services, no Trident, no punitive sanctions system for benefits, no Trump-led drift to war, plus pro- nationalisation of the railways and an assault on the tax haven/dodging going on.

Even this limited defence (it’s hardly an attack) on austerity and what the ruling order wants (ie low wages, cuts in public services, privatisation of everything) has inflamed and enraged the ruling order and all those who speak for it.

It therefore became immediately essential for them to vilify and caricature Corbyn across the whole of the media – along these lines:

1. Corbyn is a tatty old hippy whose jumpers need darning.
2. Corbyn doesn’t love Britain. That’s why he doesn’t sing the national anthem.
3. Corbyn is a sinister terrorist.
4. Corbyn is incompetent.
5. Corbyn is middle class.
6. Corbyn lives in Islington
7. Corbyn is extremely wealthy.
8. Corbyn is wrong.

(There are many variations of these and many others.)

The drift is the same: on no account can the electorate be allowed think that the ruling order can be opposed or defied through the ballot box.

I hear some people who are essentially pro-Corbyn imagining some other person in Corbyn’s position and somehow getting more support from the press – a Tony Benn figure, perhaps? People who think that should look back at the press coverage Tony got at the time of his leadership challenge. Here was a youngish, good-looking chap with impeccable background in government with a long pedigree of politicians in his family. A fluent, witty, speaker with lots of anecdotes and concrete ways of describing what’s wrong etc etc. He was vilified variously as being too posh to be a socialist (yawn, yes, always that one), cynical, a secret Communist, surrounded with dangerous revolutionaries and marxists and ‘loony lefts’ and so on.

Ed Miliband had hardly a left policy in his baggage. He mildly proposed a ‘growth’ alternative to austerity. Look back at what they did to him: the man who looks odd – so he’s not electable. What?! Seriously?! Yes. In fact, he was the man who couldn’t even defend the fact that Labour was not responsible for the problems that global finance got itself into.

Another ‘left’ voice I see expressed on my timeline yearns for a great leader. I’m going to suggest that the more we yearn for a great leader, the less well we do in opposing low pay, worse conditions and cuts in services. I’ll caricature it as a throwback to longing for a Jesus-Lenin figure to save us. It’s tough but there really is no alternative to campaigns, and struggles on the ground. Whatever strengths and weaknesses Corbyn and the Labour leadership have, they can’t do it on their own, they won’t do it on their own. If a person broadly supports the Corbyn policies, there really is no point in moaning about the Corbyn leadership – particularly if you’re not involved in some kind of activism, no matter how limited, how small, how local. It’s armchair sniping and vilification.

This morning I’ve read reams of insults and criticism of Corbyn (from supporters of the Labour party) without them posing immediate, practical, viable alternatives. What’s the point? He’s said he’s not standing down. If such people broadly support the Corbyn opposition (mild) to austerity and, let’s say, the Trump drift to war, why not ‘accentuate the positive’ – do all you can to support these policies, do something, no matter how tiny, how limited to campaign on pay, conditions and cuts, which will draw in people to fight the Tories anyway. And avoid joining in the volley of abuse being directed towards him and the Labour leadership mostly coming from people who don’t want that kind of government no matter who was leading it.

I call it the George Clooney test. Would you support Labour if Clooney was leading it? No? Then your criticism of Corbyn is just disguised left-hating, isn’t it? Let’s discuss politics instead of personalities. If Clooney was leading the Labour Party, the media would think up a hundred reasons why he was wrong for the job – too handsome, not married for decades, gave up his job in medicine, etc…

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