Thursday 20 August 2015

James Ressel with Jeremy Corbyn quote

James Ressel, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Northampton, shares his views on justice in politics…

In an interview with Helen Blaby of BBC Radio Northampton on 12 August, I  discussed the alleged move to the left by Labour in the context of the Jeremy Corbyn leadership bid.[1]

It is clear that Corbyn has democratised and galvanised political debate to a degree not seen since the Scottish referendum and exposed the possibility of freedom.  His success lies in engaging with the silenced and excluded citizens, people not steeped in the self-serving culture of the Westminster political careerist focused largely on the mechanics of staying in power irrespective of the colour of their political allegiance: the despotism of all governments (rulers) since 1997.

Jeremy Corbyn rejects despotism and seeks to reconstitute the Labour Party and by implication our general body politic, in accord with ‘strict principles of justice’. If we agree with Aristotle, a state (or as commonly understood a country) is a community of free-persons and thus it follows that a government must have regard to the common interest. To remain faithful to the Aristotelian notion of ‘the true form’ and not become ‘perverted’, a government must follow strict interest of justice and forgo the interest of the rulers.

Aristotle said that”…governments, which have a regard to the common interest, are constituted in accordance with strict principles of justice, and are therefore true forms; but those which regard only the interest of the rulers are all defective and perverted forms, for they are despotic, whereas a state is a community of freemen.”(Politics)

We are all too familiar with stories recounting the many examples of our ruler’s insatiable addiction to the promotion of their self-interest, as warned against by Aristotle. For instance, on 25 July 2015 The Telegraph reported the generous 10 per cent pay rise for MPs in face of public sector wage cuts and wrote: “MPs’ 10 per cent pay rise undermines trust in politics… Lord Bew, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, warns decision to pay MPs £74,000 will not have helped restore faith in politics as he calls for a new debate about party funding.”[2]

That Jeremy Corbyn has introduced justice to politics is shown by his successful unification of the other three leadership candidates in their opposition to Corbyn’s leadership bid: with one voice they all say: vote for anyone but Jeremy Corbyn!

The visceral nature of the challenge feared by our Westminster clique was (literally) laid bare by Tony Blair. In a recent Huffington Post article Waugh and Bennett reported that Tony Blair with inexplicable violence, called for Corbyn’s supporters to “Get a [heart] transplant”[3]. In his remark, Blair unconsciously acknowledges the fear of the threat posed by the ‘common heart’ – the raw justice – that Corbyn seeks to re-introduce into politics, and seeks to drive a metaphorical stake through the hearts of those denying Blair. On another level, Tony Blair fears that Corby​n will excise the ‘heart’ of self-interest in case the false heart shall ‘corrupt’ the perverted government, in the Aristotelian sense.

This why Jeremy Corbyn matters – in his campaign he has raised the possibility and hope of justice being reinserted at the heart of our politics.

[1]     Helen Blaby BBC Radio Northampton 12 August 2015 at 1:54 mins

[2]     Tim Ross, The Telegraph ‘MPs’ 10% pay rise undermines trust in politics, watchdog says ‘ 25 July 2015

​[3]       Paul Waugh and Owen Bennett, The Huffington Post UK, ‘Tony Blair: Jeremy Corbyn Supporters Need A ‘Heart Transplant’ Posted: 22/07/2015

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