The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, this week set out what he thinks the future of Great Britain should be in a series of media appearances, collectively dubbed his ‘relaunch’.
After a number of disappointing polling results for the party, Mr Corbyn now hopes to project a new, populist image of himself to the public.
So, ahead of a speech in Peteborough on Tuesday outlining his views on Brexit, Mr Corbyn was given a platform on BBC Radio 4, ITV’s Good Morning Britain, and Sky News to be more loose with his ideas and not so media-managed, as some may argue has been the problem with previous leaders.
Unfortunately, any voters wavering between which party to support were not going to find much clarity in what the Labour Party will be offering them in the lead up to the next general election.
Indeed, at times it appeared the Labour leader was coming up with policy ideas off the top of his head. Which, in fairness, may have been the strategy, but the immediate reaction was not wholly positive.
The notion that Corbyn’s Labour is anti-business and anti-aspiration was given further credence as the Labour leader advocated a cap on high earnings.
Asked by John Humphrys on the Today programme if he would like a limit on how much leading executives can earn, Mr Corbyn firmly said: “I would like there to be some kind of high earnings cap, quite honestly”.
In his interview with Sky, Mr Corbyn admitted that it was not Labour policy at the moment but something they are “looking at”.
He did not give a figure on what the salary cap would be, but said it would probably be above his own salary, reported to be around £140,000.
Freedom of Movement
In his speech on Brexit, Mr Corbyn said that Labour should not be wedded to the idea of free movement following Brexit, however in his interview with GMB he said Britain would have to retain free movement of people if the EU said it was the only way to keep access to the single market.
In fact, in his speech Mr Corbyn said: “Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle, but I don’t want that to be misinterpreted, nor do we rule it out.”
Labour’s party policy has traditionally been in favour of freedom of movement. But after Mr Corbyn’s speech, it now looks more neutral. Neither one thing nor the other. A common theme unfortunately with Mr Corbyn’s ‘new kind of politics’.
Mr Corbyn was heavily criticised for his lack of enthusiasm during the EU referendum campaign, with many Labour party members genuinely unsure of what the party’s stance on EU membership was.
It seems that in 2017, many other roads of party policy are just as muddy.
If Team Corbyn want to project their man as a populist figure to galvanise those who have felt left behind by successive governments, such strategies usually do well by having someone with powerful, punchy and emotional rhetoric.
Unfortunately, though Mr Corbyn’s ethics may be in the right place, he is not the most emphatic at communicating their value, let alone in an inspiring way or illuminating why his personality would be a better fit for the country than the current Conservative government.
If, however, Labour wanted to go down the route of putting policy first and personality second, they would need to commit to that and reach out beyond their members to find what are the most pressing issues at local level.
They would need to engage more with focus groups, think tanks, and survey the public to then set out a documented plan of proposals.
A mid-term manifesto, if you will.
At the moment, it seems as if they are somewhere in the middle of two approaches, committing to neither.
With the NHS crisis ongoing, Mr Corbyn even had a number of free opportunities to criticise the government’s handling of the situation and use his platform to defend Labour’s record on the NHS – one of the most important issues of the day among the general public.
However, he did not take the opportunities. It is not the first time many have felt that Mr Corbyn has allowed the government a free pass.
Instead, Mr Corbyn’s suggestion of a wage cap will take up column inches, in mocking tones in many parts of the printed press.
The Labour leader even sought to backtrack on his wage cap plan on Tuesday evening, saying it was just a possible option he floated in the morning interview on the Today programme.
Another ‘clear’ message for the electorate.