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Bernie looking Presidential

Much has been made since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party in Great Britain, of the similarities between him and Bernie Sanders the Presidential hopeful. In that both are left of centre, and are older men with white hair, both with a tendency to be a bit scruffy this is certainly true – beyond that, less so.

Regarding dress sense, Jeremy trumps Bernie here, as “Jezza” (as we affinados are encouraged to call him) has all the sartorial appeal of a geography teacher who does Morris dancing in his spare time.

Basically, Bernie is the fully realised progressive democrat, the real deal, and Corbyn presents more as a washed up old lefty from the old school still banging on about all the old issues we left behind years ago.

Bernie Sanders is a true son of the working class born in 1941, and at 73, both the older and by far the younger looking of the two. Perhaps because you get to see Bernie smile. Bernie went to his local school where he did well enough to be both Captain of his track events team and get entry into the State Championship Basketball team. Jeremy was born to nice middle class parents and lived at Yew Tree Manor, and was independently educated. He does not seem to have taken well to school, and avoided team events.

Bernie graduated from Chicago University with a BA in Political Science and almost immediately became involved in helping with organising the Civil Rights movement. Bernie choses his fights with care and has been on the right side of history all his life.

Jeremy left school with only two “A” levels both at “E” grade. He did not go to University immediately. Indeed when finally given the opportunity by the Trades Unions a few years later Jeremy bailed before the end of the first year, apparently because he would not agree on the prescribed course.

Jeremy Corbyn unveils his alternative to Trident

Now one can do a lot in politics without the benefits of tertiary education, but it seems that Jeremy does not have an inclination toward academics and by removing himself from University so soon, also has not benefited from the broader experience of University. It gives the impression of someone prone to leave the difficult things in life undone. To take the easy softer route. Not a good background for a leader of a party hoping to deal with people from all walks of life and education in all its broader reaches.

And it means he has no “professional” background, either of the time served tradesman, the engineer, a chemist or an industrialist.  And even more concerning it also means that almost every single person in his office, from the junior doing the photocopying up, is better qualified than him. Almost certainly every single person over sixteen he will ever meet is better qualified than him.

Think about that one. Take your time. Take all the time you need.

Following his Civil Rights stint Bernie tried out for politics, and after a couple of missed shots became Mayor of Burlington in Vermont. He held this position through three elections from 1981 through 1989. As Mayor of the most populous city in the state Bernie gained huge executive experience in running a major administration. He was cited as one of the top twenty mayors of his day.

Jeremy was a councillor for Haringey, a small borough in London, from 1974 where he ascended the ranks until he finally peaked when he assisted with a planning committee. As far as anyone can see his executive experience is somewhat lacking. He became an MP in 1983 where he was promptly recognised for his talents and  instantly marginalised, spending his time languishing quietly on the back benches. Not being promoted further up in the party structure really means that Jeremy has never had the chance to develop those skills of massaging egos and herding cats that are so essential to any leader. Worse he has never had to learn how to compromise, that most central skill of the successful politician. Thus he appears on camera as stiff, brittle, quick to take offence. He does not seem to have decided on any direction and he is losing ground the longer he takes. Will he bow to the Queen? Will he wear a poppy to Remembrance Services? Will he stay in NATO or the EU? Will he just bloody make up his mind? Private sources describe him wandering the corridors of Westminster, a prisoner of indecision, “like a fart in a trance”.

Bernie has since his mayoral days taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Hamilton College, and has beyond this written books, documentaries and research. He has worked extensively with the American People’s History Society. He therefore has gained all that necessary experience with the publishing and media world.

Jeremy, bless, has never taught anywhere and has not written much either. And when he does a set speech as at this year’s Party Conference he tends to address the choir. He is yet to learn how to deliver well to those who are not supporters. Also he should write his own stuff- it is not at all helpful that he cobbles together important speeches like those to conference, from someone else’s second hand blog posts.

Indeed Jeremy has never even used an autocue, which was depressingly clear in a rambling speech he gave to the TUC last week. He has no sense of humour either, no quick fire repartee, no laconic raconteur he. There will never be a tome entitled “The table talk of Corbyn”

Bernie’s next step was to stand for the Senate. Whilst there he has steered a major Housing bill through both houses. His was one of the few pieces legislation to squeeze through this “do nothing” congress which is achievement in itself.

Jeremy has sat on a few committees too.

Bernie is used to media and big scale events. He manages to appear on TV all smiles and teeth. Jeremy though has a rather hang-dog put-upon appearance and can appear shifty. His delivery is hopeless as we all saw last week at a TUC Conference where he rambled away without much direction. His minders were in a desperate struggle to teach Jeremy the basics of an auto cue before his set piece speeches this week at the Labour Party Conference. (Smile ya bugger smile).

Jeremy struggles when the questioning goes off-piste. His refusal to answer questions so far can be spun as all part of the new, fresh, honest politics, but will certainly degenerate into being seen as shifty, uncommunicative, policy free and not-being-on-top-of-his-subject. Needless to say Bernie had all this sort of “business” off pat years ago. Bernie would never let himself be duped into sitting on a silly TV show holding a giant marrow as Jeremy has done (albeit to the endless delight of a nation).

Comparing Jeremy to Bernie is not really very fair – to Jeremy.

Copyright David Macadam 2015