‘Why I, a conservative, approve of Corbyn’

On yer bike: new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is known for his love of cycling © PA
by Peter Hitchens

One of Britain’s leading conservative voices, the man who calls himself “Britain’s obituarist” writes for The Mail on Sunday newspaper and is a former foreign correspondent in Moscow.

You can profoundly disagree with the views of Jeremy Corbyn but still be glad that a person who actually says what they believe is about to occupy centre stage in British politics

Do not underestimate Jeremy Corbyn. Labour’s Blairites lie dead and dying all over the place because they made that mistake.

Tory Blairites such as David Cameron might be wise to learn from this, especially given last week’s dismal, shrinking manufacturing and export figures, which were pushed far away from front pages by other stories, but which cast doubt on the vaunted recovery.

If (like me) you have attended any of Mr Corbyn’s overflowing campaign meetings, you will have seen the hunger – among the under-30s and the over-50s especially – for principled, grown-up politics instead of public relations pap.

“The PR men and the backstairs-crawlers of British politics have been wrong-footed by a bearded old bicyclist.”

Mr Corbyn reminds mature people of the days when the big parties really differed. He impresses the young because he doesn’t patronise them, and obviously believes what he says. This desire for real politics isn’t just confined to the Left. Ken Livingstone is right to call Mr Corbyn Labour’s Nigel Farage. UKIP appeals to a similar impulse.

Millions are weary of being smarmed and lied to by people who actually are not that competent or impressive, and who have been picked because they look good on TV rather than because they have ideas or character.

Indeed, ideas or character are a disadvantage. Anything resembling a clear opinion is seized upon by the media’s inquisitors, and turned in to a ‘gaffe’ or an outrage.

Actually, I dislike many of Mr Corbyn’s opinions – his belief in egalitarianism and high taxation, his enthusiasm for comprehensive schools, his readiness to talk to terrorists and his support for the EU. Oddly enough, these are all policies he shares with the Tory Party.

But I like the honest way he states them, compared with the Tories’ slippery pretence of being what they’re not.

My hope, most unlikely to be realised, is that a patriotic, conservative and Christian equivalent of Mr Corbyn will emerge to take him on, and will demonstrate, by his or her strength of conviction, that there is an even greater demand for that cause than there is for old-fashioned leftism.

In any case, I think any thoughtful British person should be at least a little pleased to see the PR men and the special advisers and the backstairs-crawlers of British politics so wonderfully wrong-footed by a bearded old bicyclist.

(© Associated Newspapers. Reprinted by permission of the Mail on Sunday)

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Word Watch

Tory Blairites
Hitchens means Conservative party members who adopt many of the centrist views of Tony Blair in the unprincipled pursuit of votes.
The social policy that attempts to remove all economic inequality between people and therefore spread power more widely

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