Paul puts down his pint and thinks for a second. He’s been asked to explain why he doesn’t think people will get behind Corbyn. “I don’t know the reason really. I just feel there’s a lot of disillusionment at the moment with the Labour party.”
This Newsnight vox pop, aired on the day Theresa May announced the general election, apparently reflects public opinion. Paul couldn’t put his finger on why he felt people didn’t like Corbyn, but the media clearly plays a role.
The right wing media’s tactics can be very persuasive and most outlets are owned by phenomenally rich, self-serving men not particularly interested in Corbyn’s “for the many, not the few” policies. Tony Blair, in a recent interview with Alastair Campbell for GQ magazine, compared this “right-wing media cartel” to the Mafia. But whatever the reason, it’s worrying that polls suggest the majority of the UK favours a largely privately-educated, painfully out of touch party completely unrepresentative of society for its government over one led by Corbyn.
While Labour has promised to halt the impending privatisation of the NHS, increase council housing and create a low-carbon economy, “Theresa May’s Team” has said it’ll give Tory MPs a free vote to repeal the Hunting Act, increase selective schooling and deliver on that unintelligible earworm, Brexit means Brexit.
As usual the Conservatives look to be focused on benefitting big business and high earners while Labour focus on, well, the rest of us.
Take Labour’s promise to provide a fixed, five-year tax guarantee for those earning less than £80,000 a year, with increased income tax for those who earn more. Michael Gove demonstrated a real affinity with the electorate on breakfast TV when he said that Labour’s tax increase for £80,000-plus earners would hit “those in public services and school teachers”. No doubt those teachers were minded to double-check their pay packets on hearing perhaps the least popular education secretary in memory say they earned at least double, in some cases more than quadruple, their actual salaries.
To take this policy alone, surely we can all agree that earning £80,000 makes you better off than most Brits. In fact, we don’t need to; data from HMRC shows that an income of over £70,000 makes you better off than 95 per cent of UK earners. The money that the top 5 per cent would pay under Labour’s tax restructuring is a relative drop in the ocean and obviously they too stand to benefit from the societal advantages it funds.
Because even the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has admitted that an income tax rise is necessary. We can safely conclude from Gove’s clanger though that the Tory tax rise Hammond has hinted at won’t be for only the very richest 5 per cent in society.
The Conservatives continue to feed austerity gruel to the masses – the “rape clause” in child tax credit reforms being one particularly sickening example – while slashing corporation tax for big businesses.
Still, Joe Bloggs just can’t see Corbyn as a leader. Instead we’re falling for May and her inverse merry men, trotting out “strong and stable” like an automaton selling kitchen towels, while appearing at every Brexit negotiation more along the lines of “reckless and bullish”.
If public opinion doesn’t change, the Tories look set for a landslide on 8 June. Like Paul, I don’t know why really. But I think it’s important that we come to our senses soon, for everyone’s sake.