In the last few days, tweets by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and by a ‘great centrist hope’ have encapsulated the gulf between the approach of a genuine people’s politician and the old, ‘they’re all the same’ politics.
The people’s politician
Last weekend, on World Refugee Day, a group of cross-party remain-obsessives chanted “Where’s Jeremy” during the “People’s Vote’ march in London – feeding whatever political agendas drive them.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn didn’t hear them. He was in Jordan among Syrian and Palestinian refugees at the Za’atari and Baqa’a camps:.
Some of those remain-obsessives even took to social media to claim that he should have cancelled the visit to accommodate their obsession.
Corbyn was busy on the ground in Jordan, meeting those whose lives have been blighted by wars and political decisions, finding out what their lives are like and understanding the impact of choices driven by elites.
He released a short video of each visit on Twitter afterwards:
This weekend I visited Za'atari Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.
To live in a world of peace we have to do everything we can to remove the causes of war. pic.twitter.com/LDAF4WkdMq
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 24, 2018
In Jordan, I went to Baqa'a, one of the largest Palestinian refugee camps.
We must work for a real two state settlement to the Israel-Palestine conflict, which ends the occupation and siege of Gaza and makes the Palestinian right to return a reality. pic.twitter.com/WVQrLVU7a8
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 25, 2018
Corbyn spoke of our obligation to help meet the refugees’ medical and educational needs, but also their political aspirations. He called for us to recognise and support the efforts they’re making to help themselves – he had seen them in person – and spoke to the ‘outside world’ of its duty to not only help those affected by wars but also to remove the causes of war itself.
Corbyn’s direct, compassionate approach is not limited to refugees, nor staged for the cameras. He was captured recently in an entirely unscripted moment with a young Grenfell survivor that inspired many but enraged his enemies:
The Miliband approach
There is a huge overlap between those who have wanted rid of Corbyn from the moment he first looked like winning the Labour leadership in 2015 and those who are at the forefront of the ‘stop Brexit’ campaign.
Those figures – let’s call them ‘centrists’ for convenience – either ignore or don’t care that Corbyn is the only UK political leader fighting for those who want to remain and those who want to leave – and that any move by Labour to abandon one group to favour the other would condemn Britain to both Tory government and the ‘hard Brexit’ they say they want to avoid at all costs.
Many of those centrists consider their ideal leader and best hope to be David Miliband, the right-winger defeated by his brother Ed for the Labour leadership in 2010.
Today, Miliband put out a tweet about his own efforts on the issue of refugees. The contrast could hardly have been more striking:
Miliband is at the ‘Aspen Ideas Festival’, which styles itself the United States’:
premier, public gathering place for leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to engage in deep and inquisitive discussion of the ideas and issues that shape our lives and challenge our times.
Perhaps gatherings of self-styled ‘leaders from around the globe’ to ‘engage in deep inquisitive discussion’ have their place.
Perhaps you can even argue that there are reasons they need to meet in a world-famous mountain resort to do it – though a tweet that seems to rub the faces of refugees and the struggling in the splendour of a privileged life in a picture-postcard setting is harder to justify.
But if you’re looking for reasons why the vast majority of Labour members – and over thirteen million people at last year’s general election – are inspired and energised to support the Labour Party because of its leader, you might well do worse than to look at the different approaches of the current leader and the model of ‘business as usual’ politics for a clue.
And the fact that a small group of Brexit-obsessives don’t get that says more about them and their own politics than about the leadership this country needs.
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