Last night I had an interesting chat with a friend who is a cynical Marxist Athiest. We were discussing Jeremy Corbyn. He made a telling observation. He said "If you go around preaching tolerance and social justice, try and help the sick, feed the masses and threaten the powers that be, the one thing the bible tells you that is true is that sooner or later you get crucified". He probably isnt wrong.
Last night I was unfortunate enough to watch a gruesome spectacle of a TV show called young genius of the year. It appeared to me that it would have been better entitled pushy parent of the year. Perhaps the worst thing was that none of the kids seemed much more than bright with good memories.To me a genius innovates and solves seemingly impossible problems. Just memorising a stream of facts means nothing. The likes of Einstien and Mozart were genuises. In our generation Steve Jobs is a genius. The title should go to kids who innovate and invent. Just learning a bunch of facts in your bedroom is unhealthy behaviour for a young person. I know a few proper geniuses. They have many strings to their bow but the main is an ability to think about problems without the prejudice of what they've learned. Lets see some of these on the show and lets see a format that promotes thought, not parrot like repetition
As it starts to look increasingly likely that Jeremy Corbyn will win the Labour Party leadership contest, we seem to hear ever more wild suggestions from those at the right of the party. MP John Mann has suggested that the party suspend the contest. He seems to be saying that the contest has attracted "the wrong sort of Labour supporters" to use the old British Rail phrase. It seems that the Blairites are claiming that the the £3 offer to have a say as a registered supporter has attracted "Tories and Militant Tendency" to join and sway the vote towards Corbyn.
Whilst it is true that some Tory commentators suggested that Tories do such a thing, there is no evidence that this has happened in any sort of numbers to actually affect the campaign. In general it is the one or two jokers in every party, who do it in the vain hope that they will impress their friends. I suspect that the last thing the Tories actually want in reality is Corbyn, so it is only the very stupid who will do this. As to the claim that it is militant tendency, this is complete cobblers. The way militant worked was that it would join associations and over a long period of time engineer changes to constitutions and committees to exclude normal members. As the last poll I saw said that 47% were backing Corbyn, this clearly was not the case. This is not a long campaign of cunning Trotskyite entryists. It is clearly a popular movement. It is also clear that the "entryists" are largely students and formerly loyal Labour members who were sickened by the lack of compassion in the Blair/Brown years.
Another thing which intrigues me is just how silent Gordon Brown is. From what I understand, he is not one to hide his light under a bush. Has he realised that his words, like Blairs are likely to simply inflame matters. Blair claimed that anyone voting for Corbyn should have a heart traansplant. To me this was a staggeringly vain and obnoxious statement. Back during the Blairite pomp from 1997-2002 (pre Iraq), it seemed to all, me included, that Blair had seen off the left for good. Whilst I never was a Blairite, it was easy to be seduced by the landslide victories and the obliteration of the Tories. But Blair squandered his victories. He was always to cosy to big business to care about his own party. Thingshe should have done, such as renationalising railways and regulating banking were simply ignored, to keep rich donors happy. By the time we got to 2010, the grassroots had been alienated.
I don't believe that the Blairite mantra is dead. But I do believe that there are simply no Blairites capable of articulating a coherent manifesto. In fact the only person who has is Corbyn. It is not good enough for Blairites to simply stick their fingers in their ears and shout "La La La". They have to have a clear, concise program and a leader who can articulate it. They cannot simply say "We are better than the Tories". They have to have a program that demonstrates that and a Leader who can make the case. The same is true of Corbyn. If the Blairites cannot put a program together which has the support of the majority of the Labour Party and a Leadership contender who can articluate it, then they can't expect to win. And if the likes of John Mann cannot stomach that, then he clearly doesn't believe in democracy.
Following the general election defeat, Labour clearly needed fresh ideas and a break from the past. Jeremy Corbyn is the only candidate who has remotely offered that. If the great and the good of the Labour party don't like that, then they simply don't like democracy.
Some time back in the late 1970's, when I was still at school a life changing event happened in my life. I didn't realise it at the time. In fact it is only recently that I've really understood it. We all think that life changing moments are big, monumental events. In my experience, often they are not. Often such lessons take decades for the truth of them to filter through.
Anyway let me tell you what happened. I was going to see a punk rock band (who I have long since forgotten) with a mate of mine. We were getting ready to go and as is my want, I made a pot of tea. As it was just being poured, my Dad walked in. I asked if he wanted one and he said "I am dying for one, it's freezing out there". As we sat around chatting, he said "What are you two up to?" I replied that we were going to see a band. He then said "I did a little cash job just before I left work. The guy gave me a tenner". He then gave us a fiver each. He said "You two go out and enjoy yourself. You'll enjoy it far more than I will". My friend was gobsmacked. His father was a stern figure who thoroughly disapproved of him enjoying himself. Whilst my Dad was no punk rock fan, he loved enjoying himself and loved nothing more than seeing his kids do the same. As we left, he said "you know money is worth nothing if you don't enjoy having it. I've seen many a miserable millionaire buried".
The next day, he said "Did you have a good time?". We had and I said "Yes great, thanks" I also passed on my mates thanks. He said "You know his Dad is a miserable sod. I feel sorry for him. It must be hard growing up in a home where people don't know how to enjoy themselves".
Like many of the things I learned from my Dad, it took years for the message to really filter through, but filter through it did. He viewed money as there to help us live and recognised the power of sharing. So if you have a spae fiver, just consider whether if you have any miserable friends who need cheering up. Mabe not a fiver, maybe just a bit of time