I’m fed up with people criticising Jeremy Corbyn. There, I said it, cue uproar from left, right and centre (quite literally).
The moment the election was announced the barrage began. Writers on opposite sides of the political spectrum have weighed in. Piers Morgan has called Corbyn a “terrible and deluded leader” who is “toe-curlingly ineffectual” and “uninspiring”. Stephen Glover has labelled him “dim” and Labour “extremist” under his leadership.
I would be disappointed, but I didn’t expect any different from these men in the first place.
What has been disappointing (though not unpredictable) has been the reaction from those who would consider themselves left-wing.
As I scroll through Twitter, I can’t get away from people attacking the Labour leader.
In her Guardian column on Corbyn, Polly Toynbee opens: “Wrong, wrong and wrong again. Was ever there a more crassly inept politician than Jeremy Corbyn, whose every impulse is to make the wrong call on everything?”
But does Corbyn really make the wrong call on everything?
He has a track record of voting against war and standing up for public industry. He was arrested for protesting against apartheid. In 1988 he was the only Labour MP who supported a Lib Dem amendment to outlaw discrimination based on a person’s sexuality. Ten years later, he went against his leadership to oppose Labour’s introduction of university tuition fees. He was a supporter of the miner’s strike, he’s a champion of the NHS and he’s committed to all-women shortlists.
So what exactly are we criticising? It certainly can’t be his voting record or his moral standpoint.
We on the left are (rightly) quick to criticise MPs for being elitist, caught up in their own bubble, emotionally detached when voting on policies, factory-trained since birth into being politicians and completely oblivious to the day to day experiences of most members of society.
But when a politician comes along who is none of the above, we slam him.
On the left, just as on the right, we expected our politicians to be perfect: charming and charismatic, bold and able to keep a straight face, miraculously juggling every task and attending every event under the sun. We are hypocrites.
He might not fare well in PMQs compared to Theresa May, but that’s because he speaks emotionally, rather than reading a pre-prepared script. He is not the greatest public speaker ever – but I like to believe that he genuinely cares about the policies he stands for.
Would we rather he be replaced by a good talker who thrives in the debating sphere, but doesn’t actually give a damn about the words that are coming out of their mouth?
It seems that we on the left are expending too much energy criticising our own. You may not want to vote for Corbyn, but you don’t have to bad mouth him and create a discourse which would render him unelectable in the eyes of some voters who are undecided. Remember who the real enemy is: Theresa May.