Aiken PR

The Briefing

Our View – March 2017

by Claire Aiken

28/03/2017

‘More mush from the Wimp’. From a different era and a very different world, this was the damning headline stamped upon Jimmy Carter’s US Presidency by the Boston Globe following another banal and vapid economic speech in 1980.

‘More mush from the Wimp’.  From a different era and a very different world, this was the damning headline stamped upon Jimmy Carter’s US Presidency by the Boston Globe following another banal and vapid economic speech in 1980.

The Editor Kirk Scharfenberg only intended the headline as an internal joke but having been inadvertently published it was as if it became etched on the White House facade, lingering over Carter’s Presidency like a predator casually feeding off its prey every time a crisis arose.  Death by a thousand cuts.

Jimmy Carter went on to achieve success and gained due recognition post Presidency, notably receiving a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his unstinting efforts to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts.  A man of honour and integrity, Carter failed to respond to the considerable challenges of his era.

The media commentary of Carter over 40 years ago, bears resemblance to Jeremy Corbyn’s today.  Weak, ineffectual and in the case of the Labour leader presiding over chaos with an inability to make political gain no matter what opportunities are presented to him.

The one fundamental difference between Corbyn and Carter is, of course, that the Labour leader is in opposition.  Irrespective of the unprecedented need, it also happens to be a great time to be in opposition.  Afterall, it’s not as if May is running a well primed fully functional machine, as the approach to Brexit and the flawed National Insurance Contribution (NIC) policy for the self– employed has shown.  At times it is flying by the seat of its pants. 

Philip Hammond a bit of a wounded field marshal himself is not solely responsible for the NIC fiasco. Theresa May signed it off and either gambled that Hammond could breach long standing policy commitments and bring the Tory backbenchers on a merry dance or she wasn’t fully over her brief.   Either way it was a fundamental error of judgement.

When Corbyn was at the dispatch box during PMQs, with the dramatic U turn presenting the opportunity to significantly dent the Government’s reputation for economic competence, he abjectly failed. He couldn’t improvise or adapt from the questions he had prepared on education.  In referring to the Government being in chaos, Jeremy Corbyn provided a ready–made retort for May with Labour’s shambolic and disjointed approach in opposition.  It was left to the SNP’s Angus Robertson to leave any sort of a mark on the proceedings.

Commenting on the exchange, Robert Peston outlined the palpable unease there was on the Labour benches with a leading MP likening it to a baby seal being clubbed, ‘at some point you have to turn away’. A little more acrid than ‘more mush from the wimp’ but the sentiment applies.

And potentially much more concerning is his ‘free run’ for Theresa’s hard Brexit, come what ‘May’. In Corbyn’s attempts to maintain the party line on article 50 the three–line whip was invoked, the strictest form of instruction to attend and vote, duly turning into a whip revolt with a fifth of Labour MP’s voting against.  A group of 29 Labour MPs continue to criticise their leader for failing to take a stronger line on Brexit and demand that he back the continued full membership of the single market to protect against ‘higher business costs, fewer jobs and inflated prices’.