So does Jeremy Corbyn actually model his values? Well, yes but, no but. In some ways I guess he does (although it’s a bit difficult as I don’t really know explicitly what they are), in some ways he doesn’t. He is true to his Socialist roots and has been throughout his life. His politics have not changed with his accession to the leadership. He has modelled a kinder, more courteous way of behaving at Prime Minister’s questions. And he says he believes in a new form of politics, and has brought a lot of people who were hitherto disengaged from mainstream politics into the Labour Party.
On the other hand…..He says he believes in socialism but undermines his own team who are trying to deliver on those values (at least if you believe this speech by Lilian Greenwood). He says he wants a kinder, gentler politics but is slow off the mark in condemning harassment and bullying of those who don’t support his views, and allows his two greatest supporters in the party, John MacDonald and Diane Abbott, to continually brief against his detractors in the PLP. He says he believes in equality but when he appoints his first cabinet it’s far from gender balanced. He appeals to authenticity and democracy, yet anecdotally a number of those joining the party to support him are members of other parties, which he has done little to discourage, and he would have been quick to go to court to challenge the decision regarding his position on the ballot by the elected NEC if it had gone against him.
It’s true that some of these things have been corrected later, but it’s as though he’s not really capable of seeing how what he does conflicts with his stated values until other people point it out, which suggests that he is not very self-aware. That may not be a problem in itself but in leaders, especially those who are in a position where they’re highly visible, it’s quite good to have someone in the role who’s got some idea of how they’re going to come across, not necessarily because otherwise they’re at a disadvantage in dealing with the media but because party leaders, and even more so Prime Ministers, have to deal with a lot of people and organisations and it helps to have an idea of how other people are going to view your actions.
The other area in which Jeremy Corbyn’s values don’t seem, to me at least, to quite match up with his actions is in the area of communication. Of which more tomorrow.