Question for Labour – who exactly is in ‘the many’?3
November 11, 2019 by Paul Goldsmith
Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign launch asked the question of whose side everyone is on – the many or the few. Yet his definition of who is allowed to be in ‘the many’ is not clear.
Yet the question is, how does one categorise who is in ‘the many’? How does one know who the ‘few’ are?
The answer to this is not as easy as Corbyn tries to make it. He highlights the likes of Mike Ashley and Rupert Murdoch, who make easy targets, but it’s not quite as simple as that.
What about the working class kid who aspires to make more of themselves? What about the small business owner thinking about investing so that they might become a larger business order? What about the pensioner who has worked all their lives and retired with a pension that includes shares and other investments?
Will they be seen as the many or the few by a Labour government? Will they be a friend or enemy? Whose side will they be seen as being on? Who will be on their side? I wonder if the answer to that might be, to those people, NOT the Labour Party.
In the end, Jeremy Corbyn talks a lot of ‘coming together’, yet a lot of what he then says is actually divisive. It either specifically excludes people, or tells people they would be excluded from the Corbynite revolution should they deign to work hard, invest to create jobs or save for their future.
If Labour aren’t clear how inclusive they are, or intend to be, they may find that the number of ‘many’ they get votes from are just not enough.
I see a different definition of ‘the many’ and ‘the few’. It’s not a purely financial/income distinction. For those of us who want to live in a fair society where obscene wealth inequality is addressed, we are the many. Those who are driven by self-interest at the expense (or on the backs) of others are the few. What your distinction ignores is that there are many, myself included, who would be financially worse off in terms of personal finances under Labour, but for whom this is absolutely a price worth paying for a more equitable society, where exploitation of workers and our environment is outlawed rather than promoted as a viable business case. We are all enriched by more than just the money in our bank accounts.
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All true, and I realise that it isn’t a simple distinction. Isn’t it interesting how those on low incomes are ridiculed for voting Brexit ‘against their economic interests’ but people like you aren’t ridiculed for doing the same.
I have 2 answers to the question , and a comment.
1. As the rallying cry is an adaptation of ‘we are many, they are few’ from Corbyn’s favourite poem, Shelley’s Masque of Anarchy’, my first point would be that the phrase is emotional and metaphysical rather than literal. As the poem was a response to one of the best documented examples of peaceful protest at Peterloo, it perfectly encapsulates Corbyn’s rebellious soul and in that sense is a highly personal message, unlike the ugly and almost wilfully dumbed down ‘get Brexit done’
2. Once again , I am no expert, but judging by the 2017 manifesto, I suspect that the few are the 5-8% of people in the UK earning more than 70k pa. they might also be the 1,200 aristocratic families who own one third of the UK, and the small number of companies, trusts and estates that own most of the rest. The many would be the people who rent or who own most of the little houses in the UK but just 5% of the land. I hope these figures are correct – I have done my best to cross check them.
And my comment would be: I suspect that this phrase won’t get off the blocks with whole swathes of the population of the UK who would never admit they were one of the many and would always hope to be one of the few.