Jeremy Corbyn's straight talking honest politics: I'm honestly not going to give you a straight answer

Tom Peck
Jeremy Corbyn addresses a rally ahead of the Labour Party Conference in Brighton: Reuters

It’s been two full years since a chap called Jeremy Corbyn stole the Labour show with a promise of straight talking honest politics, and finally he is starting to deliver.

Straight talking, honest politicians have always talked very straight when they honestly won’t give you an answer to a straightforward question, and Jezza’s unexpected recent surge in popularity can only be because he has finally got with the programme.

In the old days, if Corbyn 1.0 didn’t want to see gun wielding terrorist shot down on the street, or didn’t want to fire a Trident missile, or didn’t want to sing the national anthem he would tell you as much. Mercifully, those days are gone.

At some point over the coming days, his devoted trade union backer Len McCluskey may decide to join public sector workers on the picket line, even if their strike action is not backed by sufficient numbers of their members to be declared legal.

Unsurprisingly, the BBC’s Andrew Marr was keen to know whether Mr Corbyn, the Labour leader and very much Prime Minister in waiting, would support this action, even if it were illegal.

It might all seem very beltway, very cat and mouse, an unenlightening and largely pointless attempt to leave the Labour leader pinned and wriggling on the wall, but these things do matter.

In 33 of the 34 years of his parliamentary career prior to this one, Mr Corbyn would have given a straightforward honest answer: “Yes.”

But he has eyes on the bigger prize now, the smart suit to show for it, the recent generous comments about the Royal family too, and the (albeit half-hearted) campaign to stay in the European Union.

“I’ll be with those workers demanding a decent pay-rise,” he said, when asked if he would support illegal strikes.

He was asked it three times and three times the same non-answer came.

That Mr Corbyn’s journey from “Mr Say-What-I-Think-Regardless” to a “Michael-Howard-Lite” has coincided entirely with a rapid upsurge in his political fortunes could, at some point, start to pose a problem for those who got on board with Corbyn 1.0.

A moment later, by the way, he was telling Andrew Marr that he “wasn’t completely sure” if he’d ever taken an uber, the exact same answer given by John McDonnell to Robert Peston over on ITV twenty minutes later. You can take that as a yes, on both counts. And who can blame them? Interesting though, that uber had “broken the law” and “behaved disgracefully.”

Striking workers on the other hand? That’s a far more nuanced matter. You can expect a lot more straight talking honest politics in the days ahead.

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