Yesterday I caught a bit of Shaun Ley’s interview with Labour Party leadership candidate Liz Kendall on Radio 4’s World at One programme. One of her comments that caught my ear was that “… we want to win in 2020 so we can change the country”. Surely that isn’t the apogee of ambition? It doesn’t win me round to the Kendall camp but I think it epitomises a common fallacy among British politicians, that election victory is all that matters.
Ruling parties don’t hold all the cards. Surely that is one of the strengths of our political system, that multiple parties have a place in the decision making process even though one enjoys a spell in the driving seat. The ideal would be that the things Parliament does are those which are carried because, after debate and adjustment, even those who start from quite different sets of political beliefs and assumptions can agree that they are worthwhile steps forward. Otherwise it becomes mere rabble rousing, a popularity contest rather than a process to give an intelligent and compassionate shape to the way we progress.
That is why I am much more inclined to trust those who appear to be people of honest and deeply held convictions than those who might say what they think most people want to hear in order to grasp corrupting power. On what I’ve seen so far, I think Jeremy Corbyn stands out. If he gets elected as Labour leader, it is nonsensical to blather that he would be unelectable in a wider vote; furthermore, I think he would make a difference in changing the country – and the world – right away than only if Labour win in 2020.