Jeremy Corbyn is a homeopathic politician plying snake oil remedies

by Ian Moss

The Labour leadership campaign has seen some pretty unedifying accusations about the commitment of members and candidates to the core purpose of Labour.

The hard left, gathering behind Jeremy Corbyn, are whipping up anger against those that have a different view of the best policy solutions to further Labour’s principles, to their pure form of socialism.

But policies such as public service reform are not important because they might be popular with voters, they are important because they help the very people that Labour is there to represent.

The policies the Corbynites are aggressively wedded to tend to be about structures – public ownership or democratic control. That is because Corbyn is a homeopathic politician in a world that is medically complex, happily doling out homespun remedies passed down from history instead of engaging with evidence and trying to find modern solutions.

A principle is ‘improve education outcomes for those from disadvantaged backgrounds” or ‘improve health outcomes whilst ensuring free healthcare at the point of access’. It is not a principle to ‘defend a certain organisational form of institutional delivery decided at a specific point in history’. Whilst the Corbyinte left may share the principles of the reformist right, he and his supporters appear to have no curiosity about what evidence exists on how those principles would best be implemented.

Corbyn stood up on television last week and said that the 50p tax rate would raise £5bn, a figure plainly picked out of the air and not close to the sceptical position on positive revenues suggested by the IFS, the recognised independent authority on this issue.

When pressed on this, his response that his source was “some research” “by “clever people”, made it clear that this is not a man with an inquisitive mind. (His ‘research’, of course, is arithmetically impossible, given the aggregate income of people earning over £150,000 in the UK, even in the unlikely event that they all paid it).

On all of the fundamental questions of how to improve outcomes for people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, Corbyn offers the usual measurements of the hard left of how much money can be spent and how much the state can control.

On welfare, NHS and Education there is no vision of reform, indeed reform is in itself a bad thing – something only “Tories” would contemplate. Unless reforms means to revert to structures where the users of public services were allowed to exercise no choice or control over the services they depend upon.

Tony Blair in 2006 bought competition into the National Health Service, offering patients the choice between providers. The evidence shows this saves lives. The hard left treat such reform as a fundamental betrayal of Labour’s principles.

Just consider that for a moment – a reform that has been shown to cause fewer deaths in the NHS is an anathema to the Corbynites that view public service reform as an ideologically Tory obsession.  If Jeremy Corbyn is going to leave all attempts to improve public services to the Tories, those that rely upon them will not be looking to Labour to help them any time soon.

Of course we all have inherited views and prejudices – like I believe there is only one right way to roast a chicken and Heston coming along with his test tubes and thermometers is New Labour cooking gone mad. Only in the end I would hope that we can all agree when we have a serious problem that needs to be fixed there should be a bit of expertise on hand to help do it.

The internet enables those that believe in absurd propositions to find a whole community of people that will back them up with some great pseudo-science to arm them in debate. Anyone with a social media account can see the result of this community of misinformation every day in the hyper-concerned postings of the disappointingly credulous. This same echo chamber of inaccuracy is what currently allows the hard left to believe a great electoral future is available for their policies based on wild counter-factuals on how voters might behave when faced with a regressive, leftist policy programme.

Of course one of the most obviously absurd positions Jeremy Corbyn takes is that he supports actual homeopathy and he signed an Early Day Motion to that effect. I have no doubt that he is a very firm believer in the placebo effect; that is what he offers in politics- simplistic views on tax, on public services and on welfare that will not work, and offer no credible analysis of how to improve the lot of the people Labour is there to represent.

The rhetorical history of grievance Corbyn is peddling in this contest – that Labour isn’t left wing enough; that it hasn’t offered an alternative to the Tories; that the way to resolve all problems is more spending and more state control – may be tested again. But on this, the evidence of voters faced with a fiscally irresponsible left wing Labour party has a repeated experiment in history that returns the same result. From that evidence there is no doubt that the public, in a clear majority, know that the homeopathic remedies don’t work.

Ian Moss has worked across government and is now in public affairs

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13 Responses to “Jeremy Corbyn is a homeopathic politician plying snake oil remedies”

  1. swatantra says:

    If JC lurches like a drunken SWP/Militant entryist to the left as some commentators are suggesting, then he’ll soon be out on his ear. That is why we need a balanced leadership at the top with Caroline Flint as DL and the other 3 losing contestants in the Shad Cab, to keep him on the straight and narrow. Its very unlikely that even with the UNITE 5th Columnists and the UKIPPERS and SUN readership that have taken up membership just to influence the outcome, will get their wicked ways.
    JC is astute enough a politician to know that he has to work within the framework of the Party and listen to the CLPs that put him there not the fellow travellers from Unite UKIP and SUN.

  2. David Walker says:

    Corbyn will have a much lower figure in his head than 150k, with regard to the 50p tax rate (around 50k, I would guess). He also will have other higher rates that he will want to introduce. I would imagine that earnings over 100k will be taxed at something closer to 70-80%. If he has got any sense, he won’t include actual figures in a manifesto and will just plan to go ahead and drop the bombshell when he is in power.

    People read to much into what politicians say, rather than what they do. The left keeps complaining that Osborne promised to stick with Labour spending plans, yet it is Labour that gets the blame for overspending. The difference is that the Tories promised it and Labour actually did it.

    Personally, I doubt Osborne had any plans to stick with Labour’s spending agenda. The cuts would have come by stealth.

    Labour promised to stick with Tory plans, regarding tax, in the run up to the 1997 election. They kept their word, while finding clever new ways to tax individuals and businesses. Their promise ended up being completely meaningless and I’m sure it would have been the same with Osborne if there had been no crash.

    Labour want to spend more money – always. The Tories want to spend less money – always. Both parties will always find a way to do what they want. They both use promises made, when out of power, to trick the voters. The electorate is foolish to listen to them, rather than to rationally assess what the parties really want to do.

    Rich people who stay in the UK and keep their income and assets here will pay plenty of tax under a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government. Don’t you worry about that.

  3. “The Labour leadership campaign has seen some pretty unedifying accusations about the commitment of members and candidates to the core purpose of Labour.”

    And yet you are continuing with the abuse of Labour leadership candidates. Check your headline. Practice what you preach.

  4. Tafia says:

    And he eats babies.

    And he is a satanist.

    And he wears womens clothes.

    And he is cruel to animals.

    And he’s secretly left handed.

    And really he has ginger hair.

    Can anyone think of anything else?

  5. David Walker says:

    One other thing… I guess it’s likely that Corbyn will have even less to say to small business owners than Ed Miliband. This would be a mistake and an avoidable one.

    Corbyn is promising to close virtually all tax loopholes. He needs to get across to entrepreneurs that this will help them.

    For example, if you run a coffee shop and there is a Starbucks over the road then your business is in a hopeless position as things stand. Starbucks pay virtually no tax, as they are big enough to exploit the loopholes. You, as a typical small-business owner pay a massively higher percentage of profits in tax.

    This means that Starbucks can use this advantage to hire better staff than you, undercut you on menu prices, spend more on marketing, or whatever. If Corbyn can keep banging this message home, he will be offering small business owners considerably more than Ed Miliband did (which was basically nothing).

    My concern is that the issue won’t even cross Corbyn’s mind, though. I’m not sure he can even discuss small businesses, without feeling a little dirty and in need of a shower.

  6. tim says:

    @David Walker. Great post, and explains just one of the ways that major corporations have a huge advantage over small business owners. They can employ people on the minimum wage, kill local businesses ensuring that hardly anyone in the community can ever own their own business, and then sucks the profits offshore. So communities are blighted as these businesses take over, and we as a country gain no benefit. This is what global corparatism is all about.
    When you see a new building go up, and you see Starbucks, Nandos and all the usual suspects move in, please realise that they are bleeding the country dry whilst denying normal people the chance to own competing small businesses. Law making bodies have been captured by big business, hence why they have rules that benefit them everywhere. State control won’t help either-all that is required is a level playing field for everyone. And it’s not going to happen…

  7. Frederick Thrapston says:

    Corbyn’s manifesto specifically mentions that the sort of tax avoidance that Starbucks etc engage in is unfair on independent coffee shops who pay their fair share of tax.

  8. Nostromo Conrad says:

    Given that one of your confederates is sure that Corbyn will come fourth and that his apparent surge is all social media froth and dodgy opinion polling, it’s difficult to see why you and Labour Uncut are getting so hot under the collar.

    No doubt Bairite common sense will prevail in the end – the outlook for the poor and needy may be less rosy, however.

  9. John P Reid says:

    This article, based due to genuine fear,that’s he’d lead us to -5% in th epolls in 202 and it of power for 30 years,
    Is only giving JC sympathy, I know acupressure of people who voted David M for leader, a braking councillor and someone who had sympathy to the SDP in the 80’s backing JC ,it’s not just those too young to recall the 80’s who don’t know the damage we did to ourselves, and I know a couple of Poeple who voted for Any in 201 ,who at the time was also a Blairites candidate,and they’re backing him as the feel Liz is too weak/unknown or Burnham Cooper are continuity Brown/Ed Miliband

    And despite whatever is takes they made,know that you have to fought on the middle ground it was just in Eds case he wrongly thought the middle ground had swung to the left

    But Swatantras point, about those who are paying the £3′ to get Ed leader, because they won’t vote labour unless,and won’t rejoin but wan their say, or are secret Tories, to call, them doing it sun readers’or Ukippers, as a smear,as those two sort of people are nasty enough to pay the £3 to de story lapbur, well a lot of sun reader vote Labour,a lot of ex Labour,vote Ukip,and Ukip probably have more in common with Corbyn than, the centre ground of labour,, Ukip were gains tIraq, the more authoritarian views of John Reid ,Blunketts time at the home office, supported by Blair, and of course there’s JC, anti the EU view due to cheap labour, running down blue collar indigenous workers wages,
    Comparing Unite to the Sun made me laugh though,
    As For flint,she articulate, and knows how to give a view depending how th ewe anther is blowing a the time,but compared to Eagle, who knows the Ukip ex Labpur problem up Nprth, Bradshaw,by far the most talented, who would have a general knowledge of all th epolitical needs if we had a Labour PM who was off,and had to handle things, plus he understands the Tory voting south, or Watson who brought labour into the modern age with changes to the party structure, 22 years ago, and could bring. The party into the 21 st century now, my problem with him discussed at the Fabians Parliament hustings on the 20,was as a lot of party activists are burnt out after the election and they’re volunteers, his demands for change would be seen as bullying for people who we ask for help

    Plus Creasy although young is keen and despite her only claim being that she stopped page 3′ her work on stopping Wonga, was clever, in fact Flints only claim is she is the any one but Watson candidate

    David walker,good for Corbyn if he does stop tax loopholes, although Kendall is saying the same,recal Tony Benn who avoided paying inheritance tax

  10. paul barker says:

    I feel a bit like someone watching a marriage break up. More people are coming to see that a Labour split is inevitable so why make it so nasty ? Why not just agree to disagree & go your various seperate ways ?

  11. Jake says:

    Dear Ian,

    Thank you for making me think again about voting for Jeremy Corbyn.

    You haven’t changed my mind, yet. Because the heart of what you seem to be saying (and sorry if I’ve got this wrong), is that the Labour party today is as good as it gets. That would be a shame.

    I’m not ‘hard left’, which is something I suspect I share that with a lot of other fresh Corbynites. I remember the eighties from a child’s perspective: primary schools running on substitute teachers, waiting for hours at empty North London stations with no way of checking when the trains would come, or militant Trotsky postman turning up at Christmas to demand their bonus with menaces. So I like having choice and control over public services.

    But I’m deeply suspicious of the reality that has been created – I don’t understand it. How can it be right that private utilities pay bonuses and make profits, while people freeze to death in winter? I hear first-hand reports about terrible things that happen routinely to people in our immigration detention centres. I help close friends cope as their lives are near-ruined by the weird, Foulcaudian oubliettes of the Tax Credit system.

    I know governing is complicated. And I know hard cases are created by the compromises required to govern. But that is not a good enough answer: this ain’t as good as it gets.

    You are the first person (for or against Corbyn) to accurately reflect my reason for liking him: I don’t believe the other candidates are sufficiently committed to the core that should define Labour. Either their rhetoric runs from tepid to empty, or they make tactical concessions that betray ignorance of when compromise goes too far. I do not agree they have any real strategy. I think they would set out blindly, and row backwards from today’s compromise to some future, elusive electoral success.

    You probably want a harder reason than that, so I’ll give you my top three: Immigration. Immigration. Immigration.

    Labour betrayed immigrants in the last general election. They conceded a principle they know dam well to be false, in order to earn the confidence of the electorate. And when that happened, it convinced people like me that the party’s moral compass is now so broken, it’s time to start again. I mean reboot, completely.

    Start over with real, unworkable principles, like ‘equal life opportunities for every child’, and thresh them to the point of deliverability. Work through the party’s electable position from scratch. Check those principles with economic rigour, and find a better deal.

    I suspect a lot of the party’s brainiacs think this sounds tiresome, because they have done all this before. And I have sympathy for them folks. But, that sympathy expressed, I have to say: ‘well folks, that’s democracy and that’s tough. Because this ain’t as good as it gets.’

    What I see in Jeremy Corbyn’s style, is a healthy opportunity to create a fresh Labour compromise that could one day put it back in power. I see the simplicity in that ambition, and I think it’s a good thing. I see someone who can take the fight to the Tories on immigration, on welfare, on austerity, on the Human Rights Act.

    I see the politician Liz Kendall could have been, if she hadn’t hamstrung herself by pandering to bigotry.

    I don’t think JC will ever be PM. But I also don’t believe the Labour party that could currently weasel its way back into Number 10 is worth voting for.
    It’s simply not good enough.


    P.S. I liked finding out that JC believes in homeopathy. I didn’t know that before, and I’m not impressed: there’s no evidence that homeopathy works, beyond the placebo effect. Liz Kendall apparently believes that European migrants come to the UK to milk the benefit system. There’s no evidence for that, either. But picking who to vote for, just on this basis, is easy.

  12. Jake Hodges says:

    The contest for Labour leader would have been as dull as ditchwater without Corbyn. Liz Kendall has pretty much destroyed her own political career with her atrocious performance. Burnham and Cooper have performed better but only just.
    In order to have any chance of forming a future Government,the Labour Party need to firstly work out how to perform as an effective opposition. Their performance in opposition so far has been so pathetic that the Shadow cabinet should donate their wages to charity. They seem to learning nothing from Corbyn’s surge in popularity. Simply trying to be “Tory lite” isn’ t going to work. The only candidate who looks like the message is staring to get through is Burnham. At least he’s advocating rent control. This Tory government have completely disenfranchised a whole generation with thier policies and any future Labour leader needs to recognise and address that.
    The trouble is that all the candidates other than Corbyn come across as careerist,arrogant and happy simply to maintain a status quo that isn’t working for many. If Burnham or Cooper came forward with some radical policies on housing,stopping the influx of corrupt foreign money into the property market and radical help for start up small business they might have a chance. However, they seem happy to sit there spout the same old corporate speak drivel and think that we’re all stupid enough to listen.
    The Labour party have treated their core support and members with contempt for decades and it’s no surprise that their now fighting back

  13. Skiamakhos says:

    The homeopathy thing is something of a red herring anyway, based on a 5 year old tweet saying that essentially there’s no harm in adding something that may give an added placebo effect in addition to taking proper prescribed treatments. To go from that to him being some kind of woo-woo supporting hippy is a bit of a leap, and it’s not like science has had any big part in deciding government policy over the past 50 years or so: we still jail people for long terms despite rates of recidivism showing prison not working. We still imprison people for possessing drugs which have been proven less harmful than aspirin. We have nobel prize-winning economists telling us austerity doesn’t work yet both the Tories & 3 of the 4 Labour leadership candidates believe austerity will somehow work. If a 5 year old tweet about the placebo effect is all you can come up with to attack him, either you’ve not done your homework or he’s a pretty solid guy who deserves some support.

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