A 'Farage moment' when Corbyn spoke

ON Wednesday, August 12, I was listening to BBC Radio Two in my car. Jeremy Vine was interviewing Manchester MP Graham Stringer about the current crazy Labour leadership election.

Jeremy announced that those who wanted a vote should register by 3pm.

I rushed home, paid my three pounds and registered as supporting the Labour Party's "aims and values".

Having voted Labour for most of my life, except for a brief period when I was actively involved in the SDP, I paid my 3 registration fee with a clear conscience.

I hope I am not the only one of us three-pounders to do so.

The polls are scaring the nation into thinking Jeremy Corbyn will win. But the polls went badly wrong at the last General Election, as they did in 1992.

How does anyone know how many of us three-pounders enrolled to save the Labour Party from extremism rather than to promote it, or as a Machiavellian Conservative plot to extend their electoral supremacy?

Yet whatever the outcome, Corbyn's popularity is certainly scary. I became aware of the guy when I channel-flicked onto the first televised Labour leadership hustings.

Like most people a couple of months back, I had no idea who this late entrant to the race was.

But what he was saying about how austerity was hurting those least able to bear it, made sense.

It was a Nigel Farage moment. I had watched a documentary on Farage's views on Europe and the scary thing was that a lot of what he was saying about the lack of European accountability and democracy made sense.

One can see the attraction of these dangerous men for fickle voters, tired of the gods they voted into office last time around.

The problem with democracy is that secular societies, which have largely rejected the concept of divine salvation, are seeking it in the political leaders they elect into office.

It never works and can often go catastrophically wrong as when the Germans, frustrated at their humiliation after the First World War, voted Hitler into office.

Chancellors, presidents and prime ministers are mere human beings who are usually placed by their electorates in no-win situations in which the odds are regularly stacked against them.

At best they muddle through. At worst they can wreak infinite disaster.

Electorates never seem to learn that their leader cannot promise salvation. America's first black president, Barack Obama, was hailed as a messiah.

For better or worse he muddled through as an imperfect human being, unable to fully implement his intended social policies on health care and gun control and possibly disastrously nave on foreign policy as only the outcome of the Iran deal will show.

Now Donald Trump is the new American messiah with as much possibility of saving the world as Donald Duck.

The Greeks thought Alexis Tsipras was the messiah who could save their country from austerity. He lasted less than seven months after bringing in the very austerity measures he had fought his election campaign against.

So if I am so disillusioned with the whole democratic process, why am I bothering to vote in the leadership election?

Exercising one's democratic right to vote is largely a matter of damage limitation.

We are told by our sages not to rely on miracles, but to exercise whatever power we have to make this world a better place.

Using one's vote is a clear opportunity to do that.

I tend to opt for Labour over Conservatives in this country because I believe that basically their policies are more concerned with chessed (welfare) than their political opponents.

But the Labour Party and its adherents are far from perfect. In the 1980s I left Labour for SDP over Labour extremism.

For a couple of years, I toed the SDP party line until I joined the Jewish Telegraph.

Funnily enough, becoming a journalist at a Jewish newspaper made me distance myself from active political engagement.

Interviewing people with differing views gave me an objectivity which members of a particular political party cannot have.

But when elections came, having removed my rose-tinted political party glasses, I still had to vote for someone.

I solved the problem by not looking at national leadership as the ultimate issue - as I know all political leaders will come a cropper sooner or later - but at the local level.

The question is easy. One only has to decide which of the local candidates is the most likely to be a good constituency MP and support Israel and Jewish issues as best as he or she can.

My late decision to vote in the Labour leadership election was my last-ditch attempt to save this country's main opposition party from electing a pie-in-sky Tsipras character, who has friends in all the wrong places.

I desperately hope it works.


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