Anyone acquainted with me in any way whatsoever will be well aware I am not exactly Jeremy Corbyn’s greatest fan. However, there is one thing he gets absolutely right that Northern Ireland’s smaller parties get wrong – he does not just criticise, he offers something.
I or anyone else may choose to disagree vehemently with what Mr Corbyn offers and to cast it as irresponsible or outright dangerous, but at least it is something.
Have a look at the smaller parties in Northern Ireland, most obviously the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP. Just glance down their recent releases or watch anything their Leader has said. What you will see and hear is criticism of what others (the larger communal rival, the other side, the UK Government or even Jessie Jackson) are doing or saying or indeed not doing – but what you will not hear is an offer of anything. What exactly would be different if I voted for them?
Earlier this month Jeremy Corbyn got incredibly lucky, because his gains were down primarily to the pathetic campaign of Theresa May. However, he did offer something – and many genuinely responded to his call for hope and politics for the many. What are Robin Swann and Colum Eastwood offering that is even remotely comparable?
It is simply not good enough to critique the larger parties or the national governments and then hope people turn to you. You need to make an offer of something discernibly different. Agree or disagree, like or loathe, that is what Jeremy Corbyn did. It is to be learned from.