The Labour leader of City of Lincoln Council has once again emphasised his support for Jeremy Corbyn, while decrying the culture of personality politics and vicious debates on social media.
Councillor Ric Metcalfe told The Lincolnite that he continued to back the under fire leader of the Labour Party because of his values and policies, adding that he was irritated by constant comments about Corbyn’s personality or appearance.
He said: “I tire of the personality stuff about Corbyn being too old, looking scruffy – he doesn’t fit the modern image of what political leaders look like.
“Frequently, some people are led by sections of the media that cause them to make their decisions on anything but policy.
“The reason I supported Jeremy Corbyn was that his views about the role of public services, the importance of intervention to try to mitigate the worst effects of the free market system are things that I think can resonate with people but we’ve got to find a language and a meaning to saying those things to people.”
When it was suggested that Corbyn was incapable of finding that language and that left-wing policies with him as leader would be shunned by the electorate, Councillor Metcalfe was more optimistic.
He said: “Look what happened in 1945. The emphasis that the Labour government between 1945 and 1951 brought to state ownership, the development of new public services. Jeremy Corbyn is not saying anything dramatically different to that.
“The world has changed of course, but those same principles still can ring true with people.
The challenge for any party leader is to demonstrate that they can command popular support, not just support among the already convinced.
“I know that Corbyn has been criticised for simply preaching to the converted but this is a Labour Party election process so in a sense at this juncture, winning hearts and minds on a broader scale wouldn’t have a relevance to the outcome of the party leadership contest.
“Following the leadership election, whoever wins needs to fully focus their efforts on winning back Labour voters who have deserted the party in significant numbers in recent years.
“This needs to involve outlining a convincing set of policies and ideas that show that we can build a better Britain.”
Social media vitriol
Councillor Metcalfe also hit out a “daft and infantile” subculture within sections of social media, characterised by poisonous and malicious discussions or threats online.
A very small minority of Labour supporters at both ends of the party have been particularly guilty of such abuse, especially over antisemitism, Iraq and the use of the term ‘Blairite’.
While not being on either Facebook or Twitter himself through choice (saying that it was “marvellous” that he was not on them), Councillor Metcalfe urged people to think more about what they posted.
He said: “It’s one of the reasons I don’t inhabit that world because it seems a bit like alcohol. There is a disinhibition about the way people behave and speak on social media which is not so apparent in face-to-face transactions.
People seem incapable of engaging in debate without being unpleasant, far more so than they would dare to do face-to-face with people. I think that’s very unfortunate.
“I know there are immense benefits and pleasures to be had in the social media world but if that’s the sort of culture that develops, that’s not very positive.”