General Election 2019: Corbyn, Johnson and co must stop demonising ‘elites’ – leader comment

Politicians should inspire voters with positive visions of the future, not seek to win votes by engaging in borderline conspiracy theory nonsense.

Jeremy Corbyn waves to a cheering crowd of supporters as he launches the Labour election campaign (Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images)

For Boris Johnson, the general election will pit the pro-Brexit “people” against Parliament. For Jeremy Corbyn, it’s about looking after “the many, not the few”.

The Conservative and Labour party leaders are very different politicians and yet there are similarities in their tactics. The same sort of language can also be heard from Nigel Farage as he rails against the “liberal elite” and his ideological soulmate in the White House, Donald Trump, with his pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington.

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So, it seems, there is considerable consensus among our politicians that sinister forces are at work across the UK and beyond – powerful, wealthy people with their own interests at heart who can manipulate events to their own advantage and to the detriment of the general population, regardless of how they vote.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves a folder as he leaves 10 Downing Street (Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

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It’s the sort of talk that used to be confined to conspiracy theorists on the margins of society, who might initially sound plausible but would soon reveal their true nature by talking about the Illuminati, people who are secretly alien lizards, and so on.

Launching Labour’s election campaign, Corbyn told a cheering crowd: “You know what really scares the elite? What they’re actually afraid of is paying their taxes. So in this election they’ll fight harder and dirtier than ever before.”

It might be controversial to stick up for “the few”, but it’s just as wrong to castigate them in such terms as it is to condemn the poorest people in the UK as “scroungers” as some Conservatives occasionally do.

Many wealthy people, and some not-so-wealthy ones too, probably are worried about paying more taxes under Corbyn and it is fair to say that tax evasion is a bigger problem than benefit fraud. It is also perfectly reasonable for Corbyn to make the case for higher public spending, funded by higher taxation.

But most people, rich or poor, are decent, law-abiding citizens and, as such, they are worthy of a basic level of respect until they do something that means they no longer deserve it.

With mainstream politicians – of many, but not all, stripes – demonising vaguely defined “elites” and undermining faith in democracy, the rise in threats and intimidation directed at MPs should come as no surprise.

Is it too much to ask for leaders who inspire us with positive policies, who encourage us all to work together for the greater good, and who shun dangerously divisive rhetoric?

Sad to say, but the answer seems to be “yes”.

Good news about Brexit?

From Millport comes news that may gladden the heart of many a Brexiteer.

Plans to expand Firth View Caravan Park have been approved – because of the UK’s expected departure from the EU (although it’s not impossible the pending general election will change things a bit).

Previously the local council had turned down the idea of adding 18 new berths because of policies that treat Cumbrae as a “special landscape area”.

However, this decision has now been overturned with the view that Brexit and the fall in the value of the pound is helping to turn caravan tourism into “something of a boom sector for the Ayrshire economy” among the factors taken into consideration; the “very fragile nature of the economy of Millport” was also noted.

Any kind of economic boom is something to be welcomed and encouraged. The danger is that, in struggling to cope with the estimated £70 billion hit to its GDP under Johnson’s deal, Brexit Britain will rip up regulations designed to protect the environment and the beautiful scenery of this country.