Jeremy Corbyn detractors have been criticising the Labour leader’s early speeches for not being conciliatory enough, and for rambling. They would do better to focus on his ideas
Remember that great speech Ed Miliband once gave?
The really inspiring one, that time where he not only lifted the spirits of committed Labour Party activists but also reached out to the whole country, convincing millions of British people that a bright and appealing future lay just around the corner, ours for the taking under a Labour government?
You know, that barnstormer of a speech, one of those rare moments when human rhetoric rises to meet a momentous occasion; when hard-nosed political journalists were momentarily awed, and even cynical television pundits choked up. Surely you must remember?
No? Neither can I. Because it never happened. And yet corners of the British press are currently in the process of excoriating Jeremy Corbyn for failing to wow them with a good enough speech, having won the Labour leadership contest only days ago.
Corbyn’s victory speech was high-handed, amateurish, rambling, unstructured and not conciliatory enough, according to the verdict of various pundits. Matthew D’Ancona was particularly unimpressed with the strategic aspect:
By most accounts, the SNP’s Mhairi Black – Britain’s youngest MP in several hundred years – gave a great and powerful maiden speech when she finally spoke during the Budget debate this week. And so it was, if you lower the bar for greatness so far that it encompasses earnest, occasionally witty, wide-eyed socialist babble.
Certainly many Labour MPs were enthusiastic, as the Guardian reported approvingly when the speech went viral:
In the anti-austerity speech where Black called herself “the only 20-year-old in the whole of the UK who the chancellor is prepared to help with housing” after the age limit imposed on housing benefit, she also called for a healing of relations with the Labour party.
“I have never been quiet in my assertion that it is the Labour party that left me, not the other way round,” she said in the speech where she also praised the lateLabour grandee Tony Benn. “I reach out a genuine hand of friendship that I can only hope will be taken. Ultimately people are needing a voice, people are needing help. Let’s give them it.”
Several Labour politicians seemed receptive to her call for cooperation. Praise for Black’s speech was tweeted and retweeted by Labour MPs including Tulip Siddiq, Diane Abbott and Sarah Champion, as well as Labour’s Madeleine Jennings, the parliamentary researcher for MP Stephen Kinnock.
This blog disagrees with almost everything that Mhairi Black believes in, but has no personal animosity toward the twenty-year-old parliamentarian. In many ways it is refreshing and long overdue for someone so young to be included in the makeup of parliament, especially at a time when government policy (and state largesse) so overwhelmingly favours older people, with their selfish attitudes and non-means tested benefits. It is only a pity that Mhairi Black doesn’t represent a serious political party but rather a group of zealous, moralising fantasists who would tear up a three hundred year old union in a fit of pique over ten years of Tory Lite rule. But so be it.