Monday, 26 October 2015
Carfree: Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of HM Opposition
There are many extra-ordinary things about Jeremy Corbyn, recently elected leader of Britain’s Labour Party, and hence, Leader of HM Opposition: his support for nuclear disarmament and opposition to renewing Trident, his failure to endorse ‘austerity-lite’, his campaign against the Iraq war, his election to the Labour leadership with 59% of the vote, his ranking as the MP with the lowest expenses claim (although somebody has to be at number 650 on that list), and his choice of attire. Almost as remarkable, and rather less remarked upon, is that he does not own a car (according to Wiki and the Financial Times).
As the FT article notes,
“When not attending rallies, constituency meetings and picket lines, Corbyn likes to tend to his allotment, make jam, eat cheese and read about railways. He seldom drinks and does not own a car, preferring to cycle. He is also a keen photographer of manhole covers.” (apparently, as long as they were installed by public sector bodies).
What we do not know is whether this is because Jeremy Corbyn is a Rational Economic Man. Has Mr Corbyn applied the textbook nostra of the Standard Economic Model, carried out a cost-benefit analysis and decided that the downside of owning a car (cost, hassle, risk) outweighs the upside (convenience, some of the time). Does he just prefer to be on his bike or on foot? Perhaps he has he never learned to drive – it’s a useful life skill, as there are times when it’s hard to find an alternative to using a car. You just don’t have to own one. Is it because, as a man of the people, Mr Corbyn sees car ownership, life in a box on wheels, as insulating him from the rest of humanity? Or maybe it’s a refusal to be part of oil-fuelled corporate capitalism, with its oil dependency, resource wars and implications for foreign policy.
Whatever the answer, it’s hard to believe that there has been any other Leader of the Opposition since the Second World War who hasn’t owned a car. So is the carfree Mr Corbyn hopelessly out of touch? Or ahead of the curve? (picture: Wikipaedia)