BBC Question Time.
TV spots for the Labour leadership thing. Smith always assumed he would boss Corbyn during them and his better leadership gloss would trump Corbyn’s dour greater knowledge and capability. Smith thought he’d be a cool tanned JFK to Corbyn’s pasty and perspiring Nixon but it hasn’t really turned out like that. Substance has won through in every one of their hustings so far and Smith’s timeshare salesman act may have been de rigueur when he was learning his trade in PR but the rolled up sleeves and earnest thrusting of hands was put to bed by David Cameron in his ‘man of the people’ shtick and George Osborne’s flirtation with dropping his ‘aitches and going all ‘estuary’. Smith thought he’d look the part as leader, obviously seems himself in that way, but no one else does. I’m sure someone on the internets will compile a video of Smith’s tantrums, his faux indignation, those moments when he thinks the cameras have switched from him and his face is a picture of empty calculation.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Smith is probably a nice enough person, as are most people. He’s doing ‘leadership’ in the best way that he knows how, he’s just not cut out for it. Some people are born leaders, some have leadership thrust upon them, and some desire to lead but don’t actually know what it means. Smith is leading by example but I’m not sure that his petty attacking style is leading his campaign as much as it is a reflection of his campaign and he is leading by someone else’s example.
I’m reminded of a comment made on the Twitters where Corbyn’s concern about Labour members being spuriously denied their right to vote in the leadership election was used as an example of Corbyn being led by his supporters, rather than leading them. It was a very odd comment. Nonsensical really. It strikes me now that it was in line with a narrative that we have seen during the campaign against Corbyn.
Those acting against Corbyn have accused him and his supporters of the actions that they themselves have committed; it’s one way to divert attention I guess. Discredit your victim’s accusation against you by first accusing your victim of the same offence. Victim blaming is a sadly very common occurrence, for a reason. Corbyn’s leadership have been accused of being anti-Semitic and misogynistic, yet it is Corbyn’s opponents who tried to stop a Jewish woman with a history of fighting anti-Semitism from vying for a role on Labour’s NEC because she was a Corbyn supporter. Corbyn’s leadership has been accused of being racist, yet it is his opponents who attempted to smear Shami Chakrabarti in, ironically, a continued attempt to smear Corbyn over anti-Semitism accusations because the human rights lawyer had chaired the investigation into anti-Semitism within the Labour party; an investigation which Corbyn set up.
It is consistent then that Corbyn would be accused of behavior that is actually the behavior of Smith; possibly not even knowingly by the person who made the comment about Corbyn because they may have just been taken in by the campaign against him. Smith’s various outbursts may simply be a reflection of the culture of his campaign. The petty spitefulness that comes through his press releases and that appear in his on stage utterances could well be a reflection of him being swept along by the language of those formulating the anti Corbyn campaign. Smith has been told to attack Corbyn, to try and unsettle him, to try and provoke a reaction. If Smith had leadership potential, he would know that that is not the behavior of a senior statesperson. There is often a palpable bitterness to Smith’s jibes during his public appearances, an impatience that the public are just not receiving the clever attacks that sounded so good in the pre hustings briefing, will we see it all again during this evening’s Question Time outing? The attacks don’t work, they just make you worse, because they are fabricated, that’s why they’re not knocking Corbyn back on his heels.