Centre-ground politics too often misdefined | Letters

Diane Reay says Jeremy Corbyn embodies hope and possibility of change, Lord Rennard and Geoffrey Wheatcroft respond to Andrew Adonis’s article on Roy Jenkins, and Les Summers says the Lib Dems should apologise for entering government with the Tories

Irony apart, I feel I am living in a political environment where media commentators (Just when we needed it, irony has deserted our politics, Journal; With no centrist path our politics will completely lose its bearings; 27 August) are constantly depicting a fabricated “reality” I don’t recognise. Many of us in the Labour party are desperate to see a fairer world, and for a significant number Jeremy Corbyn represents hope and the possibility of a more socially just society.

John Harris’s “centrists” have never really been committed to that. Social justice may be part of their rhetoric, but their actions are essentially about protecting the status quo, and a privileged establishment. We have an elite, homogeneous, political and media bubble, based disproportionately on the reproduction of elite families. Outside it, children are going hungry, homelessness is increasing, and inadequate welfare payments are inexplicably delayed. The suffering of poor people seems to be endless, with 30% of children growing up in poverty. It is hard to see any irony in their circumstances.

The only political will to change this situation comes from Corbyn, and the grassroots movement that has grown up around the hope for the progressive change he provides. Yet it feels as if nearly all those with power to influence opinion are content with the status quo to prevent moves towards a more economically just society at all costs. This is why we are presented with character assassination and misrepresentation as “hard left” of a politician who genuinely seems to share the concerns of those of us on the “soft” left. As someone from a working-class background I may not be sophisticated enough to do irony, but I do recognise Machiavellian manoeuvres.
Professor Diane Reay
University of Cambridge

• Like Andrew Adonis (I remember the bitter lessons of the SDP – we must not let Labour split, theguardian.com, 24 August), I was a great admirer of Roy Jenkins. I am proud to have helped him effectively launch the SDP/Liberal Alliance at the Warrington byelection and to have sat with him on the Lib Dem benches in the Lords. It was a tragedy that his experience and judgment was no longer available to us when the Liberal Democrat party that he helped to create eventually entered government at Westminster.

But Roy made mistakes, and one of them was his judgment about Tony Blair. He believed Blair would deliver on the proposals to introduce a more proportional voting system. If he had done so, the country would not be in the mess it is now and heading for a disastrous Brexit.

If he was still with us, it is unimaginable he would be suggesting that anyone should support the Labour party that is led by Jeremy Corbyn. He would have said that Labour’s role in helping Conservative Eurosceptics to take Britain out of the EU would have justified his departure from it.
Chris Rennard
Liberal Democrat, House of Lords

• Among many dubious assertions in Andrew Adonis’s article, it was not Roy Jenkins who “legalised both homosexuality and abortion”. As home secretary he made parliamentary time available but they were both private members’ bills, introduced by Leo Abse and David Steel.

But worse was to claim the Scottish National party (SNP) “is a regional force in a nation where the Tories have historically always been weak”. At the 1955 general election the Tories were so weak in Scotland that they won a majority not only of parliamentary seats but of the popular vote.

Maybe for Lord Adonis’s next birthday someone could give him the admirable and indispensable Butler’s British Political Facts.
Geoffrey Wheatcroft
Hittisau, Austria

• May I suggest to Vince Cable that before any shake-up of his party’s procedures (Cable to push for Lib Dem shake-up, 27 August), it should apologise for its involvement with the 2010-15 Tory government, which did serious social and economic damage to Britain – the consequence of which is the disaster of Brexit. Its new leaders might then manage to regain the support that was so casually cast aside by this gratuitous act of self-harm.
Les Summers
Tackley, Oxfordshire

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