Brexit and the UK elections
Sir, – Paul Watson, writing from Leicestershire (Letters, December 11th) claims “Boris Johnson’s previously declared commitment to spending an extra £33.9 million on the NHS demonstrates that he cares greatly about improving healthcare in Britain”. So, in the haystack of lies, is Mr Watson telling us he has identified the needle of truth? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It is surprising to see the author of one of the most acclaimed and psychologically astute books on the Brexit fiasco take on board so completely the negative narrative of the right-wing press on Jeremy Corbyn (Fintan O’Toole, Weekend Review, December 7th).
As an activist ‘on the ground’ in crucial marginal seats in the North of England I have spoken to hundreds of voters over the last five weeks and can confidently say that “traditional Labour voters” are, in the main, not “bitterly dismissive of Jeremy Corbyn”.
In a daily canvas of 60 to 70 people speaking directly to about 20 to 25 individuals, two or three might say that they couldn’t vote Labour because “of Corbyn”. When asked specifically what they did not like about him most find it difficult to answer; “I just don’t like him” is the most common response.
However, the great majority of long-term Labour voters, no matter how unhappy they feel, when asked whether they would like a Conservative or Labour government after the election are quite clear what they want and the most common response to Boris Johnson is that he is a “complete buffoon”. This does not mean that the Labour Party will win an overall majority in the election – that seems unlikely – but neither does it mean that it will suffer “catastrophic losses” as O’Toole suggests might be possible.
What is most unconvincing in O’Toole’s analysis is the idea that Corbyn is a failure because he is unambitious and does not have the “slightest appetite for power”. Although he mentions the relentless vilification of Corbyn by the right-wing press, which has continued unabated since his election as Labour leader in 2015, O’Toole then lists a series of ways that, in his view, Corbyn has supposedly been indecisive, incompetent and inadequate.
This begs the question, “If Corbyn is so useless why do so many commentators want to attack him?”.
The answer is, of course, straight forward: Corbyn is not interested in power for its own sake (and so lacks ambition, as O’Toole would say) but is far more interested in being in a position to implement the radical social and economic policies he has supported all his life.
The political elite knows that a Corbyn government would spell a complete break with the neoliberalism of the past 30 years and that this must be stopped by any means possible.
Newcastle upon Tyne,
Sir, – Fintan O’Toole says: “They don’t believe it but they choose to believe in it!” (Opinion, December 10th). In The Quiet Art – A Doctor’s Anthology compiled by Dr Robert Coope there is a quotation by Fr George Tyrrell: “There is something worse than deliberate lying, and that is the habit of gratuitous assertion; of saying, not what we know to be untrue, but what we do not know to be true. Nine- tenths of our untruthfulness is of this sort; and it is fostered by the credulity or the indifference of our hearers.”
Might this be applied to Boris and his American “friend” Donald? – Yours, etc,
Midleton, Co Cork.
Sir, – In response to the “important questions” posed by your UL correspondent Dr Geraldine Mooney Simmie (December 10th), I would respectfully suggest a successful power hungry grab by a Marxist would be the worst possible outcome with bleak prospects for security and prosperity for both Britain and Ireland.
I hope those of the Irish diaspora with a vote in the UK election today will take this warning to heart and help return a Conservative government with a working majority. Any perceived ongoing problems with Brexit can surely be resolved by sensible and sensitive negotiations? The alternative is frightening, no one benefits. – Yours, etc,