Jeremy Corbyn has now done his first Prime Minister’s Questions, made his first leader’s speech to conference and, after one false start, even made his first appearance on the Andrew Marr show.
It’s not been an easy ride but no one thought it would be. During his leadership campaign most of the press took against him, his response seemed to be to engage as little as possible with the main stream media, or what he called the ‘political comentariat’. He will, probably soon, have to try to use them to get his policies and points of view across.
Corbyn wants to begin his fightback in the assembly and Scottish Parliamentary elections next year. A good place to start but he is going to have an uphill struggle in Scotland. Getting his facts wrong on the railways and Cal Mac was not a good start. The truth of the matter is that because of the Railways Act 1993 the railways can not be brought into public hands as much as the Scottish Government might want to. This allows the SNP to claim that of course they would do it but their hands are tied but perhaps crucially, they will never have to prove it.
As for Cal Mac this is down to European Law. Back in the days of the Lib/Lab Scottish Executive then transport minister Nicol Stephen tried to clarify the matter with Brussels and received an ambiguous reply to say the least. They didn’t want to put this lifeline service out to tender but had reason to believe they had to. The rules have not changed so the SNP government have reason to believe it has to go out to tender again. As it has been done once it is extremely difficult to now say it shouldn’t. That said I am far from impressed at Transport Scotland and transport minister Derek McKay’s handling of the situation.
Corbyn had wanted to see a full and frank debate on the renewal of trident at his first Labour conference but seemed to be outvoted on this. It raises an interesting question of the Labour leader having a different view from many, if not the majority, of his parliamentary party and I think this will be far from the only issue this crops up in. It was really disappointing it didn’t happen because it would have been great to see the debate and if the party would see that trident can never be used and is a huge waste of money therefore should be scrapped. Criticism has quickly been made that on this and other big issues he has been quick to forget his principles but this and his anti-austerity stance are ones he can’t afford to lose or he will alienate many of his supporters.
All in all I think it’s been a pretty decent start from Corbyn and certainly a lot better than many in the media would have you believe. Like all new leaders it’ll take a bit more time for him and his party to get used to him as leader. Due to the way he won this maybe goes more for him than for most other leaders. He came to the leadership on a wave of optimism which will fade as it always does when reality sets in .
If it came to Jeremy Corbyn or David Cameron I know I would pick the man who was fighting apartheid over the man who was wrecking restaurants and doing particularly unhygienic things with a pig. That sounds like far less of a compliment than it’s supposed to.