Hype vs hope: a view from the left

There is a thought-provoking article in The Guardian, a generally left wing journal, by Martin Lukacs, a Canadian journalist who is also on the political left, that, in some Jeremy-Corbyn__3406649brespects, I could have written had I been a more talented polemicist. He says that British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who he describes as “the rumpled, charmless leader of UK’s Labour party whose supporters are fringe lunatics and his stances out-of-date utopianism … [and, who] … If he dared run an election with his political program, he would just as assuredly be rejected by the electorate … pulled off the biggest political upset in modern British history. The Labour party, rather than undergoing a widely-advertised demise, is within striking distance of forming government.

trudeau3_0Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, is Mr Lukacs says “the feminist prime minister of Canada who hugs refugees, pandas, and his yoga-mat. He looks like he canoed straight from the lake to the stage of the nearest TED Talk – an inclusive, nature-loving do-gooder who must assuredly be loved by his people.” It is a very tongue in cheek compliment because, the author says, “Now that Corbyn has upended the rules that govern electoral life in the west, it will help us see Trudeau in proper perspective: as a smooth-talking centrist who has put the most coiffed gloss yet on the bankrupt and besieged neoliberalism of the age … [since] … Trudeau’s coronation as a champion of everything fair and decent, after all, has much to do with shrewd and calculated public relations. I call it the Trudeau two-step … [because] … First, he makes a sweeping proclamation pitched abroad – a bold pledge to tackle austerity or climate change, or to ensure the rights of refugees or Indigenous peoples. The fawning international coverage bolsters his domestic credibility .. [and, then] … What follows next are not policies to ambitiously fulfill these pledges: it is ploys to quietly evacuate them of any meaning. The success of sell-sizzle-not-the-steakthis maneuver – as well as its sheer cynicism – has been astonishing.” It’s what I’ve been saying since 2015: a wonderful, skilled but ultimately deeply cynical campaign team sold us the “sizzle,” even though they knew there was no “steak” to be had: just a vacuous young man with a lovely smile. We, 40% of those who voted, anyway, being tired of an austere, introverted Prime Minister Stephen Harper, decided that a sunny smile and great hair was enough to govern a G7 country. As Mr Lukacs says, “the gap between Justin and Jeremy … [is] … between symbolism and substance.

Now, I do not share most of Mr Lukacs’ views: I think the NDP’s Leap Manifesto is unadulterated rubbish, but rubbish that will be very, very attractive to a couple of million mostly young, urban voters, most of whom will, I suspect, either stay at home or return to the NDP in 2019. It is cheering, however, to see this attack coming from the political left; as I have said, we, Conservatives, need the NDP to return to some strength so that a fiscally responsible and socially moderate Conservative Party of Canada can return to power and give Canadian the good, solid, responsible government they deserve.

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