I’m one of an endangered species apparently: a pensioner without a huge stash in savings. But George Monbiot’s excellent article (If ever there was a time to vote Labour, it is now, 26 April), brutally honest though it was, while determined to find reasons to be cheerful among the predicted carnage, has prompted me to put a £100 bet on a Labour victory in the general election.
I never normally gamble, but was partly nudged in that direction as an act of faith by the funereal, fatalist tone of Polly Toynbee’s opinion piece (A blue tidal wave is heading towards us in June. Reach for the sandbags, 26 April). Polly has done a brilliant job in your paper of holding our dreadful Tory rulers to account during the past two governments, but she has recently reverted to her old SDP role of staunch underminer of anything Labour which deviates from centrist convention. Neither she nor many of your colleagues, nor the majority of Labour MPs, have been prepared to give Corbyn’s opposition any credibility since his election. Worse, the MPs have publicly broadcast this energetically, despite knowing how this plays into the hands of gleeful Tories.
There is always hope. Otherwise there is nothing. I would urge Polly to read George’s article immediately.
Market Drayton, Shropshire
• I despair at George Monbiot and others who commit not only to an unconditional vote for Labour on 8 June but also a vote for the “gentle inefficiency” of Jeremy Corbyn. Tony – whose first name is routinely dropped in waves of hatred – Blair won two landslides that eclipsed both Clement Attlee’s 1945 victory and Margaret Thatcher’s majority in 1983. The loathing of the Thatcher/Blair legacy distilled into a surge in the number of seats to be gained by Jeremy Corbyn – 94 for a majority of one, the sort of feat last witnessed in, er, 1997 – shows just how detached from reality the shuttered left is. Regrettably the only solution is for Labour to be dispatched more ruthlessly than the Tories in 1997, so a successor to Corbyn’s party can be ready to win by 2037, rather than rerunning the 1935 and 1983 general elections with just a little more “gentle” socialism.
Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire
• George Monbiot’s perceptive article cut through the current “beauty contest” between Corbyn and May and considerably raised my morale by concentrating on the fundamental issues. Monbiot referred to advice given to prospective Labour voters to use nose pegs – as advocated by Polly Toynbee, who spent years grumbling about the timidity of New Labour policies and the need for greater boldness, only to change her mind when such boldness appeared and scramble to reboard the good ship “moderation”. In the same edition Toynbee regales us with yet another “we’re doomed” lament. Could she tell us just what sort of Labour party she wants and if, for instance, the party was now led by Liz Kendall or Andy Burnham, how different the prospects would be for 8 June. Given that Margaret Thatcher claimed New Labour was her greatest achievement, I suspect they would be much the same, or worse.
• Your consistent scornful attacks on Corbyn ignore the fact that the Labour party is the only possible opposition there is. Of course there are criticisms that can be made – and should be later – but this is not the time. When you actually hear him speak you can understand his support base. You’ve consistently underestimated him and predicted his downfall while Labour party membership has grown – unlike any other party.
Grow up – if you actually oppose the Tories, get behind Labour and let’s have no more of Polly Toynbee and John Crace’s pettiness.
• Why this emphasis on the importance of strong leadership (What does leadership look like? Maybe you and me, 24 April)? Surely good rather than strong leadership is the ideal. Good leadership means the ability to carry your supporters along with you. It happens when you communicate your message clearly and build a consensus on how to achieve your goals, using inspirational skills. Does our present prime minister have these qualities? Or does she simply project an iron determination to have her own way?
• Hopefully Theresa May is “doing a Dave” – in other words, she has called a snap election as she feels super-confident that she’ll win. Cameron did the same: he asked for a referendum, over-confident that the electorate would vote to stay in Europe. May shares the same arrogance. In fact, her campaigning for public support in managing a good Brexit is a smokescreen and a chance for her to attack Corbyn and all those in the Labour party.
I hope British voters will see sense. Instead of thinking about Brexit, think of all the harm the Tories have done in the last few years: starving the NHS of adequate funding, reducing help for the poor, attacking those on benefits and proposing new grammar schools. Does she really think that the Tories are making Britain an equal society?
Wake up everyone. Instead of Brexit, think destruction of a decent way of life.
Hove, East Sussex
• For months I have been hoping that Jeremy Corbyn had the policies to back up his rhetoric. But if he did, we would have heard about them by now. Examples would be support for the NHS reinstatement bill, regulation of private landlords, revaluation of properties for fairer council tax, abolition of tax havens, action to mitigate climate change. Tinkering around the edges won’t achieve anything. Boldly going for effective policies of real help to the majority of people might get shot down by the rightwing forces feared by New Labour, but this time that might not work. The difference between now and 1997 is that people can see where neoliberal policies lead – and it’s not to a successful economy with jobs and homes for all. Money is hoarded and investment is low.
Brexit or not, neoliberal policies will continue to make life more difficult for most, and impossible for the least fortunate. We need a big change, away from austerity. Real improvement in people’s lives can only happen with a genuine change of direction, enthusiastically and competently pursued. I have attended at least one multi-party meeting where there was virtual unanimity about this being as important as Brexit, because remaining in Europe did not and will not stop austerity; only a change of government will do that. When is there a better time to fight for good government, including higher but fairer taxes to pay for it, than now? Why wait? But I fear that Labour just doesn’t get it.
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