New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
27 January 2016updated 21 Jul 2021 12:41pm

Jeremy Corbyn’s Calais trip shows why he’s the right man for Labour

Under Corbyn, Labour is no longer constrained by what is politically possible.

By Liam Young

Tony Benn once explained that politicians fall into one of two categories: weathervanes or signposts. The weathervane type exists so as to wildly swing in whatever direction public opinion blows them, while the signpost type exists to point people toward a direction of principle. Signpost politicians stand firm in the face of digression in an attempt to do what is right rather than what is most popular. I believe that Jeremy Corbyn is such a politician and that his leadership is more about what we can achieve, rather than just accepting what is politically expedient.

Take his visit to the Calais migrant camp this weekend. A YouGov poll found that 73 per cent of British people do not want to take any migrants from the camps in France. Indeed, 61 per cent of people who voted for the Labour party in 2015 felt the same way. This is despite the fact that migrants establish one in seven British businesses and that migrants from both within and outside of the EU have contributed more in taxes to the Treasury than they have taken in benefits. Though the Tories talk about patriotism, there are also people with British passports stuck in Calais, unable to leave the camps because they cannot afford to travel home. Jeremy is right to say that we should be welcoming more refugees from this camp on a human level. But if that human level is not enough to get your heart racing then at least consider the tangible economic and societal benefits. So yes, the Prime Minister is able to lambast refugees and pretend that he is on the side of the people represented in these polls, but at what cost?

The same goes on the issue of Trident. A recent poll by ORB showed that 51 per cent were in favour of renewing Trident but that 49 per cent were not in favour of renewing the nuclear deterrent. As army generals can testify, Trident is neither independent nor an actual deterrent. We would have to consult international partners before ever using it and the actual use of the weapon itself would signal Armageddon. Given the changing nature of warfare it is imperative that we modernise our defence capabilities if we are actually serious about defence. Cameron plays politics with our national security but again, at what cost? If an action of ISIS were to warrant the use of a nuclear weapon, where would we aim it? Surely the £100bn investment currently saved for the renewal of trident would be better spent equipping British soldiers with the latest technology and developing some sort of defence system that would be able to actually prevent the deployment of a rogue nuclear missile.

Jeremy is offering a leadership of a different kind. He is not bending to the will of misinformation or political spin. I do not define patriotism by slogans but rather action that is within the best interest of the country. I do not define leadership as something that comes from simply moving with the direction of the wind. Jeremy Corbyn remains principled and is acting as a signpost of what Britain can be. He is offering directions for a fairer society that works in the interest of all – if anyone can make Britain ‘great’ again, it’s him.  

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
<strong>The future of private credit</strong>
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors
How the apprenticeship levy helps small businesses to transform their workforce