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When idealists give way to ideology

By Mal Fletcher - posted Friday, 18 September 2015


Disillusioned idealists often project their ideal visions onto ideologues.

This is certainly true of politics, as is evidenced by the unexpected rise to prominence of Jeremy Corbyn, the recently elected leader of Britain's Labour Party.

After a long career spent watching events unfold from Parliament's back benches, Mr Corbyn has found a new seat in the House of Commons, at the centre of the action as Opposition Leader.

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There is, however, good reason to doubt that Mr Corbyn can lead an effective, well-rounded Opposition in the House as distinct from a protest-in-residence.

Prominent members of his own party are wondering whether he can look beyond his pet causes to see the bigger picture, replacing ideology with principled pragmatism.

The ascendancy of Mr Corbyn, an unreconstructed old-school socialist, has not been greeted with universal acclaim within his own party.

Indeed some reports today suggest that he was met with stony silence at his first meeting as leader with members of the parliamentary party.

Only six of his newly appointed shadow cabinet voted for him in the leadership election. So even those with whom he has chosen to work most closely remain unconvinced of his leadership qualifications and unsure of the viability of his stance on key issues.

Nobody knows, for example, how he will vote on any legislation regarding Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent. Until now, he has been a committed unilateralist, calling for the West to abandon all nuclear weapons.

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Nobody knows, either, how he'll vote - or call his party to vote - when it comes to problems surrounding terrorism, as he has long been a vocal supporter of Hamas and the IRA.

Most importantly, perhaps, he remains unpredictable on the economy. In his backbencher days he continually advocated huge increases in income tax on the wealthy and on business.

He has chosen to appoint a Shadow Chancellor who is even more radical than himself. This is already sounding alarm bells in many quarters, even from people who welcomed his rise, including prominent Union leaders.

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This article was first published on 2020Plus.



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About the Author

Mal Fletcher is a media social futurist and commentator, keynote speaker, author, business leadership consultant and broadcaster currently based in London. He holds joint Australian and British citizenship.

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