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If Jeremy Corbyn is 'out of touch' why are his views so popular with the UK public?

(58 Posts)
blacksunday Sat 01-Aug-15 11:53:28

If anyone is out of touch with public opinion, says Ian Sinclair, it is not Jeremy Corbyn but the three other Labour leadership contenders.

“I don’t bother writing about Fox News. It is too easy”, American dissident Noam Chomsky explained in 2010.

“What I talk about are the liberal intellectuals, the ones who portray themselves and perceive themselves as challenging power, as courageous, as standing up for truth and justice. They are basically the guardians of the faith. They set the limits. They tell us how far we can go. They say, ‘Look how courageous I am.’ But do not go one millimeter beyond that.”

The recent column about the Labour leadership contest from the Guardian’s highly influential Labour-supporting commentator Polly Toynbee provides a perfect example of Chomsky’s truism.

According to Toynbee, of the four hopefuls the Labour left candidate Jeremy Corbyn “is the free spirit, the outsider not playing by the usual political rules.” And that, apparently, is precisely the problem with the Member of Parliament for Islington North: “Unfettered by what a majority of voters beyond Islington might support in a real election, he’s a romantic, saying what no doubt many Labour members believe”.

Smearing by association, Toynbee dismisses Corbyn as “a 1983 man” and “a relic”. Voting for Corbyn “is ignoring the electorate”, according to Toynbee.

Having finished her demolition, Toynbee then literally erases Corbyn from the race, arrogantly debating the prospects of “the three main contenders” before settling on the shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper as the most promising candidate.

Toynbee’s argument echoes the feelings of a large section of the so-called progressive, liberal intelligentsia. “I could probably live with any of the other candidates”, noted Labour MP and BBC commentator Alan Johnson about Corbyn, likening his politics to electoral “suicide”.

Ditto the Guardian’s Martin Kettle (“Corbyn offers a programme of prelapsarian socialist purity”), the Telegraph’s Dan Hodges, (Corbyn is proof “crazy Labour is alive and well”) and Blairite foot soldier David Aaronovitch.

As Chomsky said: do not go “one millimetre beyond” the limits of acceptable debate.

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Corbyn's positions and the public

But how valid is Toynbee’s central criticism – that Corbyn is out of touch with public opinion? Let’s look at the polling data on some of Corbyn’s key political stances:

He supports a publicly run NHS, a position supported by 84 per cent of the public, according to a November 2013 YouGov poll.

He supports the nationalisation of the railways, a position backed by 66 percent of the public, including a majority of Conservative voters, according to the same poll.

He supports the nationalisation of the energy companies, a position supported by 68 percent of the public, including a majority of Conservative voters, according to the same poll.

He believes the Royal Mail should be publicly owned, a position supported by 67 percent of the public, according to the same poll.
He supports rent controls, a position supported by 60% of the public, including 42% of Conservatives, according to an April 2015 YouGov poll.

He opposes the retention of Trident nuclear weapons, a position John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, notes is supported by a "smallish plurality" in "the majority of polls".

He strongly opposed the 2003 Iraq War, which was also opposed by the more than one million people who marched through London on 15 February 2003.

He has long pushed for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, a position favoured by 82 per cent of the public, according to a May 2014 YouGov poll.

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Who's out of touch?

So, contrary to Toynbee’s assertions, Corbyn’s key political positions are in actual fact supported by a majority of the British public. (And arguably the issues that Corbyn is out of step with public opinion on, such as immigration and welfare, are those that have been engulfed in huge amounts of media-driven ignorance).

In short, if anyone is out of touch with public opinion, it is not Corbyn but Toynbee, most of the liberal intelligentsia and the three other Labour leadership contenders.

www.stopwar.org.uk/news/is-jeremy-corbyn-the-unacceptable-romantic-face-of-british-politics

claig Sat 01-Aug-15 12:41:21

Correct. Corbyn is not out of touch which is why they are "worried sick" about Corbyn, his real prospects and how he will change the system.

blacksunday Sat 01-Aug-15 13:11:12

Oh be quiet, Claig. Neither Corbyn nor the public need support from fascist supporters.

antimatter Sat 01-Aug-15 13:37:24

Is is called the Ivory Tower where the likes of such comentators live?
I am looking forward to the last weeks leading to the Labour election.

Each side has supporters but it all boils to the numbers of vites casted on the day.
Also polls are in Corbyn's favour as if few days ago.

claig Sat 01-Aug-15 14:14:43

blacksunday, you are correct for the first time on here, Corbyn is not out of touch

HowDdo2You Sat 01-Aug-15 14:21:15

The more they mock him the more worried they must be.

RC1234 Sat 01-Aug-15 15:31:53

Let's face it none of the candidates are general election winners. It is all very well to quote survey figures but it depends on how the questions were framed. I want the NHS to stay in public hands and some kind of mechanism to make rental accommodation affordable would be good, but only because things have got out of hand. The other things just are not priorities for anyone that I know in real life - they are priorities for the unions who hold too much sway in the labour party. Not that they are a bad thing but lets face it they specialise in rights at work not running the country, so their focus is too narrow - renationalisation of the utility companies will solve very little for most people. Conservatives publicly appear to support the NHS as it is just with more weekend working, which the average person in the street actually thinks would be quite convenient (actually the critical services are there and it works really well - the problem is that people think that their personal GP should be there 24-7). The Conservatives are not going to support rent controls - that could be a vote winner if carefully designed to be fair to both parties but what might be more important is to remove the issues with the stigma about housing benefit. Maybe Jeremy is smart - he is just playing for the union vote and maybe Labour need a complete opposite to Cameron. They need to get the press onside first though!

claig Sat 01-Aug-15 15:56:30

'They need to get the press onside first though'

The press will never be on Corbyn's side. Blair went to war and the press backed him. They won't back Corbyn.

fancyanotherfez Sat 01-Aug-15 16:03:30

I really don't know. Reading this site before the election, you would have thought that there was going to be some left wing revolution, but instead, the Tories won an even larger majority and in the process sent the two main opposition parties into free fall. I think people say one thing, but when push comes to shove, do another. Jeremy Corbyn can say what he likes, but if he has no chance of getting into power, they are the new Lib Dems. Promising the earth, knowing they will never have to deliver.

kirinm Sat 01-Aug-15 16:08:03

I'm not in a union (although could do with one) but I support Corbyn's policies. I understand that people are concerned that labour will be unelectable if he becomes leader however what's the point of a labour government if they don't actually oppose any of the Tory policies? I'd rather have a principled opposition.

The smear campaign going on within the Labour Party is pretty shocking (maybe I'm naive) but if he isn't elected, I won't be voting for any of the other candidates (in a future ejection) because they've really shown themselves to be nasty atypical politicians who treat the electorate like morons during this contest. Urgh.

NoTechnologicalBreakdown Sat 01-Aug-15 16:25:41

I don't believe he's out of touch at all, I think the lack of these ideas is exactly why public trust for politicians is at an all-time low.

And the amount of smearing going on - what is wrong, in a healthy democracy, with hearing alternative viewpoints raised? Why must every idea not immediately liked by the centre-right be 'idealistic', 'outdated' and 'fruitcake'? Why is socialism an insult?

The only reason I can see is that we don't have a healthy democracy. I'm cheering Corbyn on from the sidelines, I normally go with the greens myself. Britain needs him. All of Britain, not just the braying millionaire donkeys in Westminster.

BishopBrennansArse Sat 01-Aug-15 16:32:00

I want Corbyn to win. The country needs a proper opposition not just a bunch of parties all being shades of blue.

I mean just look at Harman - falling over herself to agree with Tory policy as she wants to win votes. Absolutely no concept of opposition.

GoblinLittleOwl Sat 01-Aug-15 16:34:49

Corbyn is out of touch, but he appeals to the vast number of people, not necessarily true Labour supporters, who hark back to the time when the unions ruled the world.

blacksunday Sat 01-Aug-15 19:19:23

> I really don't know. Reading this site before the election, you would have thought that there was going to be some left wing revolution, but instead, the Tories won an even larger majority and in the process sent the two main opposition parties into free fall.

The country didn't all of a sudden become conservative or Tory scum supporters. Labour lost a lot of MPs to the SNP, many former Lib-Dem supporters in marginals didn't vote for them, and so the Tories got in.

Furthermore, the scare tactics about the SNP seemed to have worked with some people avoiding voting Labour for that reason.

Finally, our electoral system is also insane:

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Why the UK Election Results are the Worst in History:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9rGX91rq5I&feature=youtu.be&utm_content=buffer003ef&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

silkoversatin Sun 02-Aug-15 11:03:09

blacksunday I agree with a lot of what you say. I think you make a lot of very good points that I, and I'm sure many others have a lot of sympathy with. But please refrain from using the word 'scum' when referring to Tory voters.

Using words like that reinforces this Daily Mail stereotype that anyone with left or even centre left views is an intolerant, snarling, overall~wearing, foul mouthed Maoist. It does us all, no service ~ please?

silkoversatin Sun 02-Aug-15 11:37:29

Goblin That's the Murdoch / Liberal 'intelligentsia' assessment certainly and one you seem to have swallowed. Though, let's look closer at just how out of touch Corbyn is, on say - his plans for - the re-nationalisation of the railways. Some 67% of the public, including a majority of Conservative voters agree with him on that!.

- The nationalisation of the energy companies, 69% agree with Corbyn there, (including a majority of Conservative voters in fact), according to the same poll.

- Publicly owned Royal Mail, Corbyn's position is supported by 68% of the public.

- Rent controls, 60% of the public, including 42% of Conservatives, according to an April 2015 YouGov poll are with him on that too.

- Scrapping pointless, expensive Trident, and spending the money on infrastructure and job creation here. Now forget your political loyalty for a second, who in their right mind could not agree with him on that?

Corbyn's opposition to the Iraq War and the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, a position favoured by 82% of the public, according to a May 2014 YouGov poll. His views on the NHS are also supported by an overwhelming majority.

I think you'll find that Corbyn's key political positions are in actual fact supported by a majority of the British public. Despite the ignorance the press and the Blairite members of the Labour party attempt to put out about him. I think you'll also find that it's they who are the ones who are struggling to maintain an illusion of fear and conjecture about Corbyn.

I don't know how you vote, but I and the majority of labour voters want a Labour Party that is going to stand up and fight against Tory barbarity against the poorest and most vulnerable people in society, the best hope for us now is to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. However if you want a Labour Party that is going to merge with the Tories? You best vote for one of the 3 Blairites on offer.

blacksunday Sun 02-Aug-15 11:53:02

Silk-

You don't want me to use the words 'Tory Scum' but you agree that the Tory policies are barbarous.

Is there any other word to describe a man such as Ian Duncan Smith as a scum and psychopath?

Is it simply that you want me to be pragmatic when debating the public?

NoTechnologicalBreakdown Sun 02-Aug-15 14:13:06

Silk was more complaining about your use of the word in relation to ordinary voters I think.

Some people genuinely believe that right-wing policies benefit the economy as a whole and thereby benefit everyone on the whole. We cannot all be expected to take individual responsibility for every single person who has bad luck, shit happens and it's shit, but you have to look at the greatest good for the greatest number.

I disagree with their thinking and wish they'd educate themselves, especially where it's clear they've had a charmed life and/ or think everyone who's had lesser fortunes has necessarily deserved it. But name-calling isn't very productive, it just gets peoples' backs up and they're more likely to entrench in defense.

Remind me of that when I need it. smile

blacksunday Sun 02-Aug-15 14:19:26

OK, but I didn't actually call Tory supporters 'scum' or 'psychopaths'. I use the phrase 'Tory scum' to mean the Tory party - which should be pretty clear from my post.

ElBurroSinNombre Sun 02-Aug-15 16:39:33

Loving the back tracking from blacksunday :->
Why don't you just stop abusing people whose views you don't agree with and address the issues that you disagree with? Then you wouldn't have to issue all these qualifications about who is a psychopath and who you did or didn't call scum.
Anyway, I tend to agree with the sentiment of the O/P. The thing about Corbyn is that he connects with some of the people who wouldn't normally be interested in politics - and that is about 75% of the population. Young people see the likes of Burnham, Cooper and the other one as boring careerists who have their own interests at heart. It would be a refreshing change if Corbyn won this election - but he doesn't have the pull or charisma to win a general election. At least it's interesting.

Bonsoir Sun 02-Aug-15 16:44:01

Corbyn may well be in touch with a segment of the population. Economic ignoramuses all...

antimatter Sun 02-Aug-15 16:48:32

... unless of course that disinterested 75% will vote for him...

ElBurroSinNombre Sun 02-Aug-15 16:51:01

They may not be ignoramuses - they may just have nothing to loose.
Working zero hours for the minimum wage with no prospect of anything better, no prospect of owning your own home, limited employment rights - why would you give a fig about the economic prosperity of others. And that is the reality for many young people.

Bubblesinthesummer Sun 02-Aug-15 16:58:02

Young people see the likes of Burnham, Cooper and the other one as boring careerists who have their own interests at heart

However Aby who started Millifandom and has been instrumental in getting young people involved in politics, has come out in support of Burnham wink

ElBurroSinNombre Sun 02-Aug-15 17:05:51

Well Millibore certainly got the disinterested youth voting didn't he that's why he did so well in the general election

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