It’s not the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last.
A celebrity, seemingly floating somewhere in the centre-ground of British politics, lambasting the fact that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are apparently ‘too left-wing’.
This time, it was Gary Lineker. Lineker has become no stranger to British politics on social media over the last few months, and this time was echoing calls in the Westminster media bubble for a new party of the centre-ground to emerge. While we can’t blame Lineker and others for forgetting the Liberal Democrats existed in the last election (we did too), his accusation that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is “way left” and that “something sensibly centrist might appeal” has no basis in reality.
Anyone else feel politically homeless? Everything seems far right or way left. Something sensibly centrist might appeal?
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 29, 2017
Well, the reality of ordinary people in Britain. Perhaps like most super-rich celebrities castigating Jeremy Corbyn, Lineker will not benefit from a £10 minimum wage, high-quality public services and free university tuition fees. What he neglects is that to families up and down this country – these are fully-costed policies that are not extravagant, but at the same time will greatly benefit their lives. Lineker also claims that Labour’s policy committing to taking Britain out of the single market is “far-left”, when in reality, it’s just respecting the result of the Brexit referendum in 2016.
The phrase “far-left” has been used by many over the last two years when describing Corbyn’s leadership, not only by the right-wing press but hostile elements of his own party. To these people, I ask:
What is “far-left” about wanting a real living wage?
What is “far-left” about wanting to end homelessness?
What is “far-left” about not wanting to wait six months on a waiting list for mental health care?
What is “far-left” about not wanting to be saddled with £40,000 worth of tuition-fee debt?
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) June 30, 2017
No matter what they tweet with horror or plaster on newspaper front pages, there is nothing “far-left” about wanting to end the failed austerity programme of the last seven years, and an economic doctrine that for decades – has only benefited one tiny section of our society. To say otherwise is a distortion of the truth and an attempt to hold Britain back. As the snap-election last month illustrated, there are either 12.8 million Leninists in Britain, or people are simply beginning to realise that we don’t have to carry on down the path that we have been on for years. Instead, we can be the architects of a new and better way. What Lineker and others neglect is that Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s policy platform is slowly but surely becoming the new centre-ground. Don’t be fooled, their attempts to either ignore or halt this shift in British politics emphasises their regressive streak as opposed to the progressive personalities they are trying to market themselves as.
The desperate attempts to resuscitate a Blairite style of politics with a ‘charismatic’ leader such as Emmanuel Macron are missing one vital ingredient: actual solutions to the problems that we face as a country. The cheerleaders of a ‘new centrist party’ arrogantly claim their new second referendum/Tony Blair/En Marche hybrid will suddenly save Britain from itself. The belief that unchanged institutions and policies that have failed us all for decades will suddenly stop the polarisation of British politics should make it clear that they haven’t learned their lesson in the slightest.
By clinging onto the past, Lineker and the “sensible centrists” have shown their true colours. While they are looking back in anger, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are looking forward with hope and optimism. I know which side I’m on.
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