Tuesday, May 03, 2016

"Labour is standing up, not standing by"

That's what Jeremy Corbyn told the Welsh Labour Conference in February.

And that phrase has since been adopted as the party's slogan for this week's local elections.

But is it any good as a slogan?

Standing up for your principles or your friends is admirable. So is standing up to bullies.

Just standing up, however, is a pretty neutral act. (And it can be irritating to stand up if everyone else was sitting down.)

And then there is standing by.

Standing by while others suffer is a bad thing, but for the most part standing by is something positive. It means you are ready for action or there if you are needed.

If disaster threatened, you would be relieved to hear that the emergency services of the Army were standing by. It is what you would expect them to do. And, in the mean time, you wouldn't care if they were standing up or sitting down.

So "Standing up, not standing by" doesn't really work.

I suspect at the back of it there is an attempt to match Tony Blair's "I will not pass by on the other side."

But that a richness and biblical echoes (it came, after all, from Blair's early Son of God period) that Corbyn's slogan lacks.

Back to the drawing board, Christopher Robin.

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