Matthew Parris

What Jeremy Corbyn, like David Cameron, understands about the cold, dark heart of the British public

Leave compassion to journalists and Lib Dems. Voters want a dash of acid

3 October 2015

9:00 AM

3 October 2015

9:00 AM

There’s a hard, hard mood out there among the public and I don’t think our newspapers get it at all. Could it be that the general populace are now more cynical than their journalists?

At Tim Farron’s closing speech to his Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth last week, I sat through nearly an hour of one of the biggest cartloads of sanctimonious tosh it’s been my fate to endure in decades. And who do you suppose was lapping this up as avidly as any misty-eyed Lib Dem conference-goer? The hardened hacks, the sketchwriters, analysts and reporters. The press are old-fashioned: they love this emotional stuff. But the 21st-century public have been immunised against it.

‘No,’ I inwardly groaned, ‘not Tim’s single mother upbringing again’ — but on we ground through a string of decidedly first-world problems caused by his parents’ decision to separate.

‘No,’ I sighed, ‘not — please not — Cathy Come Home’ (Ken Loach’s half-century-old film about a very different Britain) — but on he squelched, all but wiping away a tear as he confessed how that film had moved him as a boy. J.D. Salinger’s character Holden Caulfield, in Catcher in the Rye, has delivered the last word on people who weep in the cinema: ‘You take somebody who cries their goddamn eyes out over phony stuff in the movies, and nine times out of ten they’re mean bastards at heart.’

In a winking, sniggering, handkerchief-to-the-eye speech he contrived to insinuate that he and his party’s welfare policies arise from the fact that Lib Dems like him care, whereas politicians in other parties don’t. It’s all a matter of how much you care. That two citizens might disagree in good faith about how best to help the poor was not admitted. All you need is love. I wasn’t buying that, and I know that millions of my perfectly nice fellow Britons don’t buy it. But about a thousand Lib Dem enthusiasts were buying it — and almost all reports in the next morning’s papers concurred: not only had the speech moved the hall, it had moved journalists present too.

Come on, guys — don’t you remember Tony Blair peddling this sort of nonsense (though more deftly) at Labour conferences all through the 1990s? It won’t work any more. People today know that welfare policy is a difficult area. Farron’s was a truly 20th-century performance: a sort of Ken Loach tribute band.

I have come to the conclusion that the press are a softer touch than our readers. In one corner of a hall-full of Liberal Democrats last week you had a handful of journalists, all dabbing their eyes; and beyond them virtually the whole of the rest of Britain, who have heard all this before, weren’t listening, and (had they listened) would have grunted, ‘But how’s he going to pay for this?’ and switched channels. The voters can now stand a dash more vinegar than politics or the media dare to give them.

Which brings me to Brighton, where I now write. I’m not sure that the media have noticed, but Jeremy Corbyn — for all that his policies are obviously crazy — is much more sparing with the schmaltz than ‘new’ Labour ever were. Blairism was all touchy-feely. Corbyn isn’t. Not only could he not do touchy-feely well, but he really doesn’t want to.

Proper Marxism (before Christian socialism wrecked its logical basis with a suffering-and-compassion agenda) is not about compassion, but about justice. Proper Marxism would see measures to mitigate the woes of the poorest as a capitalist distraction: an aspirin to dull the pain. Proper Marxism believes that only by restructuring the whole economic structure of our society can fairness be achieved — and all the rest is sops and sentimentality. Whatever they may protest, Mr Corbyn and his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell MP, are proper Marxists. They have a theory of politics: it’s intellectually coherent, straightforward, and taken on its own terms makes sense. But it’s all pretty dry stuff.

For all his steam-age dress and demeanour, I suspect that Jeremy Corbyn has ‘got’ the internet age better than we journos have. He knows how fast public sentiment can slosh this way — and then slosh that. David Cameron knows it too. These two, I’m afraid, have seen deeper into the dark heart of the British voters than the compassion-mongers in politics ever have.

We of the media have tended to laugh at the new young Britain that has flocked to join Labour as supporters or members, and that thrills to his message of injustice and his warnings about the Establishment. We speak of them as all heart and no head, an emotional flurry among a generation that in some ways has lost out in this century. They haven’t thought it through, we sneer.

No, maybe they haven’t. But what they will not be fobbed off with is soft-focus politics and speeches that go heavy on the sympathy for society’s victims, but light on the remedies. They like the dash of acid in Corbyn’s words. They like the impression that he has an analysis. They understand the meteorology of the social media — the storms, the laughter and the floods of tears — and crave a politics that cuts through it. If Corbyn can do this, then, though he will never win a general election, he will win a phalanx of support among voters that is solid, may endure, and may protect him from the attacks of Labour MPs. This he will do not by asking the public to weep with him, but by convincing a minority that he has a hard-edged plan. He does have a plan. He doesn’t waste tears. I like that about him.

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Show comments
  • Mynydd

    Next week will it be, oh no not David Cameron’s son again.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Aging population, larger font.
    At least you got something right, Spec.

    • Labour Mole Catcher

      No, it is to help certain Oriental readers with special horizontal eyes!

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        So good news for you, China boy.

        • Labour Mole Catcher

          Talking about yourself again?!

  • boiledcabbage

    The British people apparently vote against the party / leader that is not desired. It would be very easy for Cameron to be that person. Corbyn works on being rousing, but essentially nice and pleasant. If they get power, the middle classes, the rich and the favoured will get both barrels in sharp order. As McDonnell will have imposed capital controls on day one, it will be a turkey shoot.

  • Mathew Parris is one of the better eggs of the world of hackery, so I must say that it depresses me to see him smearing Jeremy Corbyn as a Marxist. That is much more consistent as an approach with the Gilbert & Sullivan- like performance of the Telegraph and others to the phenomenon and bears no relation whatever to what the man has had to say since he became leader of the Labour party. A humanist – perhaps – a socialist – possibly – the first honest party leader for a generation – certainly.

    • plainsdrifter

      How old are you?

      • Old enough to detect a prig. Oh God, an anonymous one too……

        • plainsdrifter

          But not old enough to detect adult casuistry. And as a writer for the Spectator, that is disappointing, oh God.

          Regarding nom de plume, my dear fellow, I am in good company looking at the comments here and elsewhere. Well, quite good company.

          • I have a nom de plume, you are an anonymous git. My dear fellow.

          • plainsdrifter

            Prickly little man, aren’t you. Adieu …

    • Terry Field

      I doubt it is a smear; I suspect it is spot-on accurate.

      • Might it not be better to find out for yourself? Especially if you’re going to join the chorus line….

        • Terry Field

          Short of talking to the man, I rely on the river of media and televisual reporting. That will do, Mr Wynne Evans.

          • It may do for you Mr Field, but for those of us who have the privilege to read your comments it would be good at least to know that you have made the effort to watch Mr Corbyn’s speech rather than rely on others for your opinion.

          • Terry Field

            I WATCHED HIS SPEECH; Il listen to his media responses, I have researched his and his Shadow Chancellor’s reported utterances. Of course I have tried to acquaint myself with the utterances of the man. That seems a pretty unremarkable thing to do.
            And where do you gain your insights?

          • You said you relied on the reporting – thank you for elucidating.

  • Dogsnob

    For ‘cold, dark’, read ‘post-gullible’.

  • Alexandros HoMegas

    Christianity, Islam, Marxism, Banksterism, Hollywoodism, Freudianism, Neoconservatism are all jewish created religions to ruin and control the non-jews.

    • justejudexultionis

      Insane, much?

    • anonuk


    • RonnieTimewarp

      Alex Jones has been unblocked by Disqus again.

    • smoke me a kipper

      That’s ok then we in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster can sleep soundly in our beds

  • douglas redmayne

    The public do not care about people starving on benefits which is why they are happy to vote Tory and go along with the victimisation of the most vulnerable. The deficit will be conquered at a human cost but now I have given up on the Labour party I may as well accept this. I hope the dark dispassionate of the public then turns on unskilled migrants who cost jobs and Islamic ts who seek to kill us.

  • Mark Myword

    I think Mr Parris is on to something. When the little boy refugee was found drowned on a beach in Greece, the media tugged hearstrings for the plight of all refugees. But I found a much colder attitude amonst people I knew. There was universal sadness that such a small child should suffer such a tragic fate, but that sadness did not translate to a willingness to be open armed to every refugee. Rather, the sadness was offset by questions about why the family left a safe location in Turkey, the responsibility of that family, and the responsibilitry of the people smugglers. I do not think this is new – the British have always been a less emotional, more pragmatic, more realistic, people than, say, some continentals. Whether Jeremy Corbyn, champion of the underdog, will connect to this realism is another matter – I doubt it.

    • Michael Worcester

      The back story that the father of the child (who might have been moved to make a better photo) was a deserter and people trafficker who forced his reluctant family, who couldn’t swim, into the boat when they had a safe flat in Turkey plus the father used the only lifevest for himself didn’t help. Looking forward to the press covering the trashing of Cooper’s second homes by ‘refugees’.

    • Lawrence

      Rubbish. No one I know (in Denmark) has reacted different than your friends. Normal people dont need to signal their PC credentials as hard as politicians and media people. The elite of old flaunted the faith of their time – christianity – more than the common man, but probably cared less inwardly than the common folk. Its the same thing going om today, just their faith is leading to civil war..

    • Sue Smith

      I absolutely agree. I was pilloried on another news site for suggesting the father of the drowned boy should be locked up for not providing his family with life-jackets. Turns out he was probably a people smuggler too.

      All this hand-wringing only goes to show why the vast majority of the people don’t get to run businesses, enjoy the trappings of affluence and power – they’re just too stupid and easily gulled. Trouble is, they’ve been responsible for the invasion of Europe very largely.

      And when it goes pear-shaped (as it will) they’ll point and yell, “oooh, look over there to your right”!!

      Little Red Riding Hoods all.

    • WarriorPrincess111111

      The cynical general public also proved that the photograph of the drowned toddler was completely false!
      There are no reports issued by either the Government or the media now that are not pulled apart and inspected word for word to discern if they are genuine or not – by the general public. Some people may believe everything they are told publicly – but the greater majority doubt everything!

  • greencoat

    ‘Proper Marxism…is not about compassion, but about justice.’
    Of course, comrade, of course. Now bring on the secret police, the labour camps and the informers.

    • Suleiman

      Both of you are literally correct. Proper Marxism is about justice : justice for Comrade Stalin. In order to guarantee justice for Comrade Stalin, there is a need in secret police, labour camps, informers, and you forgot to mention : plenty of firing squads (this means plenty of justice for the Sun of the Nations).

      Marx and Engels themselves did not rule over any nation, luckily to all nations. But they had their way of showing their love of justice. For example, by giving false delegate credentials for the 1872 Hague Congress of the First International to fictitious ‘delegates’ of non-existent branches of the First International in the USA. A few individual supporters of Marx and Engels in USA fraudulently set themselves as a branch, them being the only member of the alleged branch, and in breach of the rules and regulations of the organization, Marx and Engels admitted them as delegates. Then Marx and Engels used, in the Congress, their tiny majority obtained by this fraud, to expel from the organization Bakunin and one of his followers. More than that, when they realize that the anarchists are going to have the true majority in the future, they promptly used their fraudulent majority in the Hague Congress to pass a resolution that the First International is disbanded. Similar to this gangster, Lenin, disbanding the Constituent Assembly elected by national popular vote after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 because his party was in a minority in it.

      By their political or any other justice, the Marxists could have easily been Liberal-Democrats.

      • anonuk

        Monarchies can have secret police, informers, execution squads etc., if they are not constitutional monarchies with limited or rubber-stamping powers. The Tsars, Queen Elizabeth I and that modern-day Socialist Monarchy the Kims, all rely or relied on them to put the fear of God (and Divine Right) into the people. Lenin was a Communist and had all these things as well- as did Hitler, Franco and all the Fascists. Stalin just wanted absolute power with the veneer of Lenin’s deathbed approval (which, in fact, he never had). Stalin may have been a Marxist agitator before 1917, but once in power, his main principle was himself. Trotsky knew this and remained Communist while in opposition. Had he ever gained power, doubtless Trotsky would have ditched Communism and international socialism for a more pragmatic, some would say monarchical, approach.

        • Suleiman

          I agree with you.
          “Had he ever gained power, doubtless Trotsky would have ditched Communism
          and international socialism for a more pragmatic, some would say
          monarchical, approach.” – he would have ditched these, or almost completely ditched these, only in substance, not formally. The phraseology would have remained, just as with Mao, North Korea, Albania in the 1960s.

      • goodsoldier

        Marx was a parasite, couldn’t take care of his family, raped his long-suffering servant and ignored their child. And the Left gets glassy eyed, lips parted with love when they hear his hate-filled exhortations. Socialism is a mental disorder,

        • Suleiman

          “couldn’t take care of his family” – easily could, had he wanted, but he felt that it was beneath him.
          “raped his long-suffering servant” – I have not heard that he actually raped her, but theoretically possible (I am not an expert on Marx or Marxism).
          Not all socialism is Marxism, though the Marxists would like you to believe that the two are synonymous. But anyone with a good sense of humour should read the book “Redemption” by Tariq Ali.

    • right1_left1

      Did Marx ever advocate secret police etc. ?
      What he did do was try to make a dispassionate analysis of the causes of extreme poverty in mid 19th century Europe and what was necessary to improve the situation.

      Similarly with Keynes what Marx advocated was twisted and abused by authoritarian apparatchiks.
      Whether you like it or not in Mrax’s case many were Jews.

      Marx was an intellectual giant.
      Pygmies are not referenced 100 + years after their death.

      Religion is the opiate of the people.
      I forsee the withering away of the state and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

      Remember at the time those ruling having been chosen were God were killing enthusiastically and continued to do so until 1945.
      Were it not for atomic weapons I have no doubty the would still enjoy their sport.

      • jmshigham

        You really believe Marx cared, don’t you? Moses Mordecai Levy’s flawed analysis, leaving out key required actions and conveniently forgetting that society never gets to the Stage 5 nirvana, actually knew that fullwell, as he was backed by people wanting society irreversibly caught in Stage 4, while the same ruling elite hoarded the shekels as per usual.

        • RonnieTimewarp

          Why would he need to ‘care’ exactly? You can’t say he didn’t care about his anaylses, they are anything but brief, I don’t see in what other context you could mean. The comment is correct in that Marxism and Historical Communism are two entirely different things. Maybe Marxism is impossible to implement, for this reason it’s quite different to the things that sprung up in its name.

          • goodsoldier

            It requires compliance, and if people don’t comply, then what? At minimum, the same that would happen to us if we didn’t pay our taxes, penalties and jail time.

          • RonnieTimewarp

            All systems require compliance, otherwise there’s no point even suggesting a framework of rules. You explain this yourself in your second sentence, about to today’s Britain and, to be honest, fair enough. People should pay tax if they are able to. I don’t see what your point is.

      • goodsoldier

        Dispassionate? Frenzied and frothing at the mouth with the rage only a loser can muster.

        • right1_left1

          You clearly know nothing whatsoever about Marx.

          He applied a principle (presented in turgid textbooks) developed by Hegel to economic matters and thought he had science on his side when he forsaw how advanced societies would develop.
          What he predicted certainly didnt happen

          What did happen was that vicious authoritarians used the state to control the masses using his general political writings as a justification.
          see Stalin and Mao.

          If you think in 19th century social conditions for the masses were satisfactory then you dont know much about the economic history of the UK either!

          I make no claim to having read Marx.
          I have read precis of his philosophy.

          • goodsoldier

            Hegel works creative wonders with Marx’s writings but it is not a science. I am basing my opinions on reading Das Capital, Theses on Feurbach and the Communist Manifesto, and much of Engels. It seemed to me that the only way to fulfill Marx’s aims would be through coercion and ultimately violence. People aren’t compliant when it is against their interests. Even in the UK, the only reason we pay our taxes when we don’t agree on its expenditure is the threat of penalty and ultimately violence. So in any pure Marxist society it would be much worse. We are being adapted for it now with hate crime laws for example. This is how the government forces compliant behavior upon the public. It’s disgraceful. Helping the poor and the minorities does not justify this. I know plenty about 19th century social condition in the UK–does despising Marx make me automatically ignorant?

          • right1_left1

            Frenzied and frothing at the mouth with the rage only a loser can muster.

            Can you notice a slight change in your tone ?

          • goodsoldier

            Yours was not accurate criticism. I simply felt sorry for you because it is clear that instead of Jesus Christ you have Karl Marx, a very inferior spirit to worship.

          • right1_left1

            Your ‘frenzied’ etc comment was plain stupid.
            I can see rationality and you are total strangers.

            Why have you assumed I am a Marxist simply because I admire Karl’s intellectual prowess ?
            If I were a Marxist I would say so !

            I admire the bravery of the Taliban fighters but dont support their cause.
            I criticise the point of view that the Battle of Britain was a turning point in WW2 but recognise the bravery of the pilots, on both sides, who were involved.

            It’s known as having an open mind.
            Quite rare; amongst the general public anyway.

          • michael buckler

            I recall that Marx predicted (feared really) that if the revolution occurred in Russia that the result would be “Asiatic despotism” Does this count as a correct prediction?

          • right1_left1

            Asiatic despotism ?
            Where ?

            I understand that Marx thought that Russia was not advanced enough for his predictions to start coming true

            Now Gemany: that was another kettle of fish

            Read about what happened in Bavaria if you dont know.
            A world wide kerfuffle eventually resulted.

    • Fenman

      Thatis what it has in Common with Islam. Both ruthless systems of “justice”.

    • smoke me a kipper

      No need, they are already with us

  • Suleiman

    Here is a factual example of Liberal-Democrat ‘honest’ behaviour. Look at our Employment Tribunals, in which on paper Claimants have a right to an unbiased Tribunal, which have no vested interests in win for the Respondents (=Employers). How about this :

    An elected Liberal-Democrat active local politician sitting as a lay trade-union representative on an Employment Tribunal in a claim against his own Council, a Council of which he is also an employee (separately from being politically an elected member), and in which he is also the trade union representative of his union in all negotiations with this particular Council and its HR Dept (decisions about the members of this union and their conditions of employment are being made on a local basis, not on a national basis, so are made by his own Council, while this Liberal-Democrat sits as a lay Tribunal Member in a Claim against his own Council). So this chap of course finds in favour of his Council, against the evidence, saving millions to his Council by going against the Claimant.

    More than that. This “respresentative of the trade unions” is from a trade union which is committed to never ever having any strike, whatever (did you know that there is such a trade union ? It has been established, so they say, to break a strike of a proper trade union). Its Constitution says that just everything can be solved by talking to the Employers, and that its members will never ever, whatever, go on strike.
    Can any of you think of the CBI, the Employers Federation, agreeing to a lay member representing the Employers side on Employment Tribunals who would believe that ‘under no circumstances can an employer sack a worker ; everything can be solved by talking to the trade union’ ?

    There is a separate question : Which Regional Employment Judge appoints such a Liberal-Democrat ‘trade unionist’ to be a lay member of Employment Tribunals, and specifically to such cases involving his own Council ? I bet you guessed it : one which has already been declared ‘biased’ by a higher court, and against whom there are plenty of complaints.

    Of course, neither the Regional Employment Judge nor the ‘honest and caring’ Liberal-Democrat politician will disclose any of those facts to the Claimant. Takes years to discover those facts, and even this by chance : well after the 42 days allowed for an appeal are over.

    Matthew Paris cleverly quotes : ‘You take somebody who cries their goddamn eyes out over phony stuff in the movies, and nine times out of ten they’re mean bastards at heart.’

  • dustybloke

    There is a great taste in the young for telling people what to do, people who are too stupid to work out how to live their lives properly.

    These people have elected JC as leader for a reason and that reason will only go away if Corbyn backtracks too much, as he has done at the conference.

    Obviously, the people who voted such are a tiny minority nationwide but some policies resonate, such as a £130 billion tax gap that is caused by nondoms and the like of Starbucks etc.

    If he survives until 2020 (and Tom Watson will have a big hand in that) he may stand a chance…

  • Allyup

    There’s a spectrum of belief in politics in the UK. There is a tendency for those at the ends of the spectrum to have passionate belief in their own beliefs. There is less belief the closer you get to the middle. After all only 10% believe politicians are doing their best for the country, 30% for think they work for their party and 48% think they work for themselves

    The floating voter’s “they’re all the same” attitude makes him less amenable to all the BS hurled at him from all sides as he easily detects the smell at long range. This is what is referred to as the ‘cold dark heart’ of the British public.
    The further the offerings are from the irksome reality he knows, the stronger the smell. The further the offerings proximite to Fairyland the more his BS detector goes into overdrive.

  • Clive

    Underneath Jeremy Corbyn’s beliefs there is a driver – that the state knows best.

    It is a Bad Thing. It is not true.

    The unions like it because it means Jeremy Corbyn’s policies mean the state employs more people directly. The public sector is about 55% unionised, the private sector less than 15%. The unions rake up a lot more subs with high public sector employment. The unions are corporate entities like companies and their profits come from subs.

    ‘The state knows best’ is not Marxism.

    Matthew Parris is wrong to say:

    Whatever they may protest, Mr Corbyn and his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell MP, are proper Marxists. They have a theory of politics: it’s intellectually coherent, straightforward, and taken on its own terms makes sense.

    Jeremy Corbyn, at least, is not a Marxist. He is a 1970s-ist. Many people have said it and it is true. He wants to go back to the way Labour was in the 1970s.

    He does not want state ownership of the means of production. He wants state ownership of what the state owned in the 1970s. If that’s not possible due to industrial death, like the coal industry, then it will be exhumed and nationalised. He is the Rambo of the coal war. He will make it so that the unions won, really.

    So he does not have a coherent economic policy. Not least because it is implicit in what he says that there will be a huge amount of spending. John McDonnell and the hopelessly confused Labour spin people (I would love to have been a fly on the wall in those meetings) have cut off the means of getting these huge mounts of money.

    He cannot be a ‘deficit denier’ (spin horror) – which means he cannot make promises which cause the deficit to rise. According to Peston – and I believe it – the council of economic advisers McDonnell has announced have also felled the magic money tree of ‘People’s QE’.

    So he has to raise taxes but taxation on the wealthy is close to saturation – which seems to be 50% – and even that does not bring in much. Enter ‘tax and spend’ – another label the spin people will recoil at.

    To make all this policy, it has to go through the Labour policy-making process. The Joint Policy Committee – it will probably make it through there. Then there is the National Policy Forum when the question ‘how will we pay for this’ will come up. Because they know the Tories will ask it.

    And through all this, Jeremy Corbyn will keep saying – as he has started to – this is what I was elected on. Everyone knows my views. That is the unemotional statement of ‘reality’ that Matthew Parris relishes.

    But Jeremy Corbyn is not Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov.

    He is Peter 1970s Pan. It’s not surprising that his fans look like The Lost Boys. They cannot identify with politics-as-usual. They will be lost to political opinion when Jeremy Corbyn exits the stage.

    ..and John McDonnell is not Tinker Bell.

    • pobjoy

      that the state knows best.

      It is a Bad Thing. It is not true.

      So should there be no taxation?

      • Lawrence


        • pobjoy


          • Lawrence

            In a way…

          • pobjoy

            Take more water with it.

      • Clive

        How is taxation a manifestation of ‘the state knows best’ ?

        ‘the state knows best’ represents a competition of ideas and that the state’s view is imposed whatever the outcome of the competition

        • pobjoy

          How is taxation a manifestation of ‘the state knows best’ ?

          It is the state that taxes. ‘Things as certain as Death and Taxes’ — Defoe, 1726, many governments ago; and since when, taxation has never ceased! The perennial view is that, while nobody likes to be taxed, it’s a lesser evil than not being taxed.

          ‘the state knows best’ represents a competition of ideas and that the state’s view is imposed whatever the outcome of the competition

          Is the state necessarily totalitarian? In Western democracies, the competition of ideas finds full expression in election campaigns, and adults of supposedly sound mind weigh the options and find for the ideas they like best. So the state represents the people (within the boundaries of possibility, of course). So to say that it is incorrect that the state knows best is to say that electorates never know what is good for them. Which may, of course, be true! But surely, one needs to have a compelling reason for saying so.

          Apparently, seven out of ten (including a majority of Conservatives) think that the railway should be re-nationalised. It may well be that energy supply is viewed similarly. So Corbyn cannot be entirely out of synch with popular feeling, that in part rejoiced at the death of Thatcher, and may think that Britain in 1979 was a happier, more successful and better place than it is now.

          • dumbledoraexplorer

            About 36% of people voted Conservative at the last election and they have a majority in parliament. Even if, as you suggest, the government of the day – which makes the decisions of the state – represented precisely the views of people that elect them, it is still true that it would represent the views of only a minority. This minority elected state would then know what is best for the majority of people in all cases? That seems a strange thing to suggest.
            The railway nationalisation point is interesting. Of course people would prefer to own the railways and the energy companies. If you then ask people if they would be willing to cut 185 billion pounds (Guardian reports of the cost of renationalising energy) from other areas of the budget to pay for it they might have a different answer. That is more money than is collected in income tax in an entire year.

          • pobjoy

            About 36% of people voted Conservative at the last election

            Even the Conservatives did not promise to abolish taxation. Neither did any other party. Even the sole independent saw that taxation is necessary. So, unless one has extraordinary reason to say otherwise, the state knows best, as far as taxation goes. It is certainly perfect nonsense to say that Jeremy Corbyn’s belief that the state knows best is ‘a Bad Thing’ unless everyone else is included with him. Except a few obscure anarchists, maybe.

            Of course people would prefer to own the railways and the energy companies.

            So ‘of course’ people think that the state knows best!

            Thank you for your support.

          • Lawrence

            As I said: dummy. You must be considered a lost case. And how is it possible to have posted more than 7000 comments and only gotten 5000 upvotes? Because your arguments are disjointed.

            Aw, how sweet:
            “In Western democracies, the competition of ideas finds full expression in election campaigns, and adults of supposedly sound mind weigh the options and find for the ideas they like best. So the state represents the people”

            Heres a compelling and amusing rebuttal of that touchingly naive view of democracy:


            Although I dont know why I bother..

          • RonnieTimewarp

            I don’t see how upvotes are relevant with Disqus. Most discussion threads are in broad support of the article they’re under, and people posting contrary views – effectively or otherwise – aren’t likely to get many. Anyone can shout into an echo chamber and hear it agree with them.

          • pobjoy

            Most discussion threads are in broad support of the article they’re under

            They are on The Spectator, but not everywhere. Upvotes are of three sorts. Best, the sincere ones, supporting a valid and truthful fact or argument, unfortunately in a minority, in some threads. Then there are the ‘consolation prizes’, for losers who can’t ‘come back’, but who need to be made to seem to have won their argument. Lastly, there are the ‘Gadarenes’ who pile in to try to justify what is plainly untruthful, but popular. It’s not that difficult to distinguish between them, once you know this.

          • RonnieTimewarp

            So most upvotes, by your reckoning, are worthless for judging the actual merits of a post? That was basically my point, yes.

          • pobjoy

            So most upvotes, by your reckoning, are worthless for judging the actual merits of a post?

            That wasn’t your point, though it seems a rather obvious one, anyway. One does not use upvotes as indicators of truth. One uses one’s own judgement for that. Upvotes are indicators of honesty, of education, and intelligence, of readers. A very good, clear, informative post may get no response whatever, because readers do not even understand it! A very truthful post may get no direct response, because readers are afraid of it; another poster may make an abusive, mendacious reply, and that may get an abundance of upvotes. So a very bad person may get votes simply because he or she has opposed a good person. One has to know how to ‘read’ the voting. As I say, it’s really not very difficult. Bad people are usually stupid people, and give themselves away.

            There’s no way of knowing, without combing their entire history, where someone got all their likes, and what they said to do it.

            Why would one even bother to count ‘likes’? People post anonymously, and if many of the worst people in society post (which seems very probable, to this observer) then a lot of ‘likes’ is as likely to be indictment as much as praise.

          • RonnieTimewarp

            I beg your pardon, I thought your last reply was the guy who’d written the first comment.

          • pobjoy

            No problem. I’ve done that myself.

          • Coopercap

            Ah the 1970s, when the brain drain and the sick man of europe were in the news every month.

          • pobjoy

            Ah the 1970s, when the brain drain

            I remember, that was quite nerve-racking. Now we’re safe, because there’s nothing left to drain!

            and the sick man of europe

            True, true. Now we’re on the rise, with psychiatric wards full, more male suicides, a third of 11-year-olds obese, diabetes rising. The future’s bright!

          • Coopercap

            Ah the 1970s, when the brain drain and the sick man of europe were in the news every month.

          • Clive

            I did not say that the state is necessarily totalitarian. I said that Jeremy Corbyn believes ‘the state knows best’. Thta is not the same as totalitarianism. For totalitarianism, the state would have to control everything, as in the USSR. Jeremy Corbyn does not want the state to control everything, just what it controlled in the 1970s.

            The debate over the railways being renationalised has not happened yet. It would involve pointing out that the state already owns the strategic rail authority, network rail – and subsidises it heavily. It would also involve the impact of political decision making on an economically important service. That has not gone well in the past. It might also involve some argument with the EU because of the First Railway Directive – now the Fourth Railway Package. That insists competition to supply rail services (the ITOCs) must be open to all EU countries.

            The IEA – a free market think tank – argues that energy is already centrally controlled and the appearance of private supply is merely superficial. Government interferes in energy supply management. It is hard to see nationalisation making much difference to that except to make higher subsidy even more likely.

          • pobjoy

            I did not say that the state is necessarily totalitarian.

            But ‘the state’s view is imposed whatever the outcome of the competition’ could be interpreted as meaning just that. In the context of

            ‘Underneath Jeremy Corbyn’s beliefs there is a driver – that the state knows best.’

            there seem to be few alternative interpretations.

            Jeremy Corbyn does not want the state to control everything, just what it controlled in the 1970s.

            Which was what many senior, traditional Conservatives wanted in 1979; but the ‘East Midlands’ Thatcherites rebuffed them; and there was little love lost between them. One side called the other ‘stuffy’; the ‘stuffy’ side thought that the other side was a bit paranoid, driven by doctrinaire ‘ideology’ that did not seem to have much to do with politics or economics.

            And the traditional, noblesse oblige Tories were right. Corbyn is not, afaik, interested in coal mines. The Wilson and Callaghan administrations were quietly running down the coal industry in the 70s, without those appalling scenes of violence with mounted police, and without union stridency fomented by right wing entryist union leaders like Scargill.

            Whether or not some re-nationalisation can go ahead is a matter for the future (though if it turns out to be much too expensive, it will show only that the Thatcher/Major governments committed grand theft of the people of the UK). Perhaps some sort of compromise can be worked out, if so. Whatever happens, it will be distinctly unhelpful and perhaps hypocritical to label those in favour of the re-nationalisation principle as driven by some doctrinaire ideology.

          • Clive

            Corbyn is not, afaik, interested in coal mines.

            Mr Corbyn suggested that he wanted to “keep fossil fuels in the ground” as he unveiled his energy policy. However, he kept open the possibility of reopening coal mines in South Wales with “clean burn technology”.

            He said: “The last deep coal mines in South Wales have gone but it’s quite possible that in future years coal prices will start to go up again around the world. And maybe there will be a case for what is actually very high quality coal, particularly in South Wales, being mined again.

            “But if there’s to be substantial coal fire generation it’s got to be clean burn technology, it’s got to have carbon filters on it, it’s got to be carbon neutral. I’ve looked at it, I’ve discussed it. It’s complicated. At one level it looks very expensive. But the advantages also look quite attractive.”

            It is Matthew Parris that is suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn is driven by ‘some doctrinaire ideology’. I am saying that he wants things the way they were in the 1970s. They were his politically formative years. He would have been aged 21-31.

            I believe Jeremy Corbyn wants to go back and unpick everything that Margaret Thatcher did, regardless of its political, economic or social worth. He wants to win where before he lost.

            Totalitarianism is horrifying. It involves control of every aspect of life in its thrall. Jeremy Corbyn does not want that. He is a Statist. He wants the state to control certain industries and he believes that where the state is an actor, it acts well.

            I believe that the state is intrinsically inefficient and prone to major strategic errors – whether through political/economic stupidity or the mere fact that the state controls large resources, therefore makes large mistakes.

          • pobjoy

            However, he kept open the possibility of reopening coal mines in South Wales with “clean burn technology”.

            What does that have to do with state ownership?

            Jeremy Corbyn does not want that. He is a Statist. He wants the state to control certain industries and he believes that where the state is an
            actor, it acts well.

            So Edward Heath was a ‘Statist’, as were Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Macmillan and Churchill, all Conservative PMs and Chancellors, post-war until Thatcher.

            Maybe you need to get your definitions sorted out.

  • pobjoy

    Should there be no taxation?

  • addickted2hcharlton

    Yeah but the orange bookers n their ilk let the people dahn n thass why theirn aint goin to go up in the polls for a very long time on ere.

  • Nick

    Mr.Parris your analysis is only partly correct.It’s correct in it’s comments regarding Mr.Faron but wrong regarding Mr.Corbyn.

    That’s because we recognize that Corbyn speaks the same c–p as Faron and none of us will be taken in by his rubbish.That’s because that’s all he speaks.Rubbish.

  • trace9

    As much use as a note in a bottle – Farron’s whine. (Talisker, in memoriam – what was his name? – that Scots bloke.)

  • Terry Field

    Corbyn is a marxist; he uses the spare language of methodism to give the impression of workmanlike irritation at injustice, and leaves his potential audience to auto-imagine the solutions they would like to see, and that is easy to do, since he does not outline the real framework his beliefs would require him to execute.
    The gullible and the acutely aware with support him for different expected outcomes.]That is his strength.
    Vast numbers of the British are dirt poor.
    They always were, but the key difference now is that those dirt poor-sub-proletarians now have no faith that the socio-economic dispensation gives them any hope.
    The arithmetic therefore depends upon the numbers of these enraged and alienated dirty poor sub-proles as compared to those with assets and / or an acceptance of the efficacy of the system.
    I expect there are more of the latter than the former.
    That is little comfort, since it is clear that global economic pressures are all in the direction of reducing the size of the even slightly comfortable lower middle classes in the old countries of the West.
    That could make Corbyn tomorrow’s man.
    As for the commentariat???
    Just a bunch of self-satisifled, live-in-the-past inadequates. Just look at Crumbly, the dreadful trouble of Snows, the Chanel 4 bunch, etc etc etc.
    Britian is continuing to replicate the Titanic.
    Corbyn is the man to remove sufficient rivets from the remaining bulkhead to guarantee the old tub sinks permanently beneath the waves.
    I bu**ered off on my version of the Carpathia and will be fine.

    • RonnieTimewarp

      He has “[outlined] the real framework his beliefs would require him to execute”, you just don’t like it, they’re different things. Jeremy Corbyn is not shy about his beliefs, which has been his greatest strength with people, and probably the reason many of the press attacks have done more damage to their perpetrator than their target.

      • Terry Field

        Any belief will do? Any crackpot dysfunctional economically illiterate idiocy will do? You plainly are not discrimination. Intellectual difficulty? Bog-standard comp background maybe?

        • kitten

          “You plainly are not discrimination”?

          And you have the audacity to criticise the educational standards of the poster you’re replying to.

          You’re obviously not from a middle/ upper class background; they’re caught not to be overtly rude about people without wealth.

          • Terry Field

            They are not interested with people with or without wealth. They are not even, in the main, resident. You pick up on a typo; fool.
            Your silly attempt at fashionable social togetherness is tedious. Go away.

          • kitten

            If you want to understand tedious reread your post.

        • RonnieTimewarp

          No, I’m not discrimination, someone’s already chosen to embody that concept but he’s probably busy drinking and smoking for the camera somewhere.

          Yep, I went to a comp. Bog standard one. I’m now a successful electronic and software engineer living in Central London, up a tax bracket…and I still support Corbyn. Even though he’d probably cost me money. Brain melted yet?

          • Terry Field

            A nerd. Thought so. The cold dark heart!

          • RonnieTimewarp

            So you sneer at the ‘intellectual difficulty’ of some people, but those who don’t have it are ‘nerds’. I bet you’re top of everyone’s party invite list.

    • Sten vs Bren

      “enraged and alienated dirty poor sub-proles”

      Or ‘people’, as we used to call them.

      “I bu**ered off ”

      Good man. Best for you, best for us.

      • Terry Field

        No, people is an inadequate description; we are all people, except for you.
        And yes, it was excellent for me; as for you. Who the hell cares.

        • RonnieTimewarp

          Civility’s loss is Benidorm’s gain

  • Mickey Kovars

    It isn’t just the UK; this explains Donald Trump in the US.

  • Bodkinn

    I do not subscribe to this attitude of having all-inclusive sympathy for refugees/migrants. I suspect that as in normal in human affairs all of them have their own stories to tell. Some of which will have been concocted and some genuine. Some of them will really be people forced to leave their homes because of war and are entitled to our pecuniary sympathy but the majority will have seized an opportunity the desire for which they have inherited from their parents to move to Europe with all its wealth and financial benefits when you don’t work, which are unknown in their home countries. Don’t let’s kid ourselves, if discovered to be economic migrants these young, fit, savvy men will use every means not to be repatriated and I mean EVERY MEANS. Twenty years ago when in Morocco I remarked to a young native friend that he should move to England. He looked at me as though I was mad and said, ‘It is impossible for me to get in’. How times change. His children are probably here or on the way.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “the cold, dark heart of the British public”
    Tell me more.

  • WarriorPrincess111111

    Way back in the past, the British were genuinely compassionate and caring. That was when Britain was British and the Governments acted for the people and the country. When politicians were serious about their careers and councillor’s positions were voluntary.
    The changes came in the fifties, along with a huge influx of migrants to fill positions where there were said to be shortages of manpower after the War. There was criminal behaviour on a scale not seen in Britain before, criminal organised gangs, burglaries, rapes, robbery etc., The protests from the public were practically ignored as the authorities struggled to deal with the problems. The public’s feelings grew harder and more cynical. The sixties allowed people more freedom and money was easily come by, legally or otherwise. In a sense life was tougher for people had to take responsibility for themselves. Criminals who got caught were treated harshly, as the authorities began to catch up on retribution for the criminal elements of society. Into the seventies, where restrictions were first being introduced due to a poor economy, resulting in many labour strikes and unrest in the country. Then into the eighties of the Thatcher period where austerity first reared its head, bringing with it high taxation that left many people in poverty and with high unemployment. This resulted in race riots against the immigrants who had been brought over in the 50/60’s, who were living in ghettos in Britain, several of whom were killed during the riots. It was at this time that politicians gave up being interested in the country or its people, they became more concerned with personal gain and the ease by which this was come by. Into the nineties, when the UK unwisely joined the EU – more greed, more austerity, more immigrants creating even more unrest, greater poverty, people control, nanny state etc..!
    Any wonder that the British people are totally against politicians and why the British are so cynical?

  • It isn’t about compassion, or the lack of it, it is about the desperate desire for vision and grown up leadership. I was struck while watching Preeti Patel, Tim Farren and some instantly forgettable bint from the Labour party discussing Syria and Putin on QT last week, that this was like a 4th form tryout at a 6th form debating society. These people are children in the way that domestic dogs apparently remain at the mental level of pups all their lives and never develop into wolves. Expecting this sad bunch of inadequate juveniles to deal with ISIS and Putin is like expecting Chamberlain to deal with Hitler, or Cameron to negotiate with Alex Salmond or the EU. We are weak, lazy and complacent and if someone doesn’t emerge from within our culture to blow away the froth, then someone will come from without and drink our beer. We are fubar at the moment