Jeremy Corbyn used the words decent or decency six times in his victory speech for leader of the Labour Party. I suppose for him decency means not imposing your views on others. I think this is a pretty British thing. It goes along with always being polite, giving your seat up on the tube to someone who needs it more and other, well, decent things. I imagine a decent person would never seek to impose themselves or their views on someone else.
That just wouldn’t be…decent. Would it?
If someone comes from another country, a different culture, brings along their own world view, their own religious practices I think Jeremy would find it incredibly patronising to start lecturing them on the way they should live now they’re in the UK. If anyone else did I imagine he would be filled with righteous indignation. Memories of colonial Britain would come to crashing to mind.
So it’s no wonder that Mr Corbyn spends plenty of time hanging out at the Finsbury Park Mosque. I imagine he wants to send out a message loud and clear that all are welcome in his constituency and his Labour Party. It’s simply the decent thing to do. When he hears cries of Islamophobia I am sure it gets his blood boiling! How could any decent man not be upset by racial hatred. And he has said as much many times. He has said it over and over again in fact.
He has had to.
And herein lies the problem. Can you really be decent to people who aren’t? Can you really meet the challenge of continuing to be decent even to Hezbollah and Hamas fanatics? To those who want to and actually do murder others for their political beliefs, their sexual orientation and/or their religion. Can he really just sweep their views under the carpet with the decent idea that it’s simply not his place to tell other people what to think?
Yes of course he can. He can and he does it all the time. It doesn’t matter how awful someone’s views are because they have the right to have awful views and he doesn’t seem to think he has the right to hold anyone to task for them. So if a member of the Labour Party is antisemitic well…I suppose the decent thing to do would be to acknowledge their views are despicable and that they have the democratic right to hold them and to move on.
I have a problem with this. A leader needs to lead. Jeremy Corbyn consistently tells us all he has no interest in leading anything. He wants a “more democratic party”. He wants a party which absolves him from the burden of making decisions. He wants to be able to remain decent and aloof. He doesn’t want to tell people what to think. He wants them to tell him what to think. And if the people democratically decide they don’t like Jews…well the only decent, democratic thing to do would be to go along with them. Wouldn’t it?