A guide to debating the hard left

At Prime Ministers Questions, the new Labour leader seemed to think he was a character in the popular 90s sitcom Frasier. Gaffe-prone Marxist Jeremy Corbyn read out a few carefully selected emails, a tactic which allowed David Cameron to dominate the debate.

Meanwhile, Question Time came back with a bang last night as shadow chancellor John McDonnell dodged questions about his past support for the “armed struggle” of the IRA by attempting to take credit for the Northern Ireland peace process.

Whatever the occasion, the small online army of angry socialists who swept Corbyn into the leadership have taken to imitating the nodding dog in the Churchill advertisements.

I’ve noticed a few common themes in the Corbynistas arguments. Whether they are speaking in Parliament, addressing sycophants at a rally, or preaching to the lefty twitter bubble, the same tactics keep coming up. Here are eighteen of the best.

1) Make big, sweeping statements about “society”, “the one percent”, “austerity”, “privatisation”. If you talk in clichés no one can contradict you.

2) Blame “the rich”, the “Tories”, or better still “rich Tories”, for everything bad in the world. If it rains it is because the Tories privatised the weather.

3) Backed a terrorist organisation? Called for the murder of political opponents? Never apologise. If pressed to say sorry, acknowledge the “offence” you caused but never admit you were wrong.

4) Have a few thousand twitter followers on hand ready to tell everyone how “decent”, “principled”, “brave” and “honest” you are. Hashtags like #jezwecan or #peopleschancellor are worth a thousand words and show you are ‘down with the kids’.

5) If someone brings up your mistakes, talk about anything else – preferably those evil Tories and their “war” on the poor, disabled, elderly, kittens, etc.

6) Dismiss any criticism, however valid, as a “smear”. It probably came from the “Tory media” anyway. Truth is no defence. It probably votes Tory.

7) Whatever the topic of conversation, always bring it back to what is “really” important – those evil Tories (again).

8) It is always your opponents who are “extremists”. Never you. Marxism-Leninism is the true centre ground of politics and anyone who disagrees is a Tory stooge.

9) Any objections to inflation, debt and class warfare can be safely written off as “Tory economics”.

10) You and your friends are “principled”. Your opponents are always “ideological”.

11) The leader is infallible. If he won’t sing the national anthem, then the anthem must go.

12) Always maintain a smug sense of effortless moral superiority.

13) You are the good guys – the Rebel Alliance, Gryffindor, hobbits, etc. Tories are baby-eating monsters in league with Sauron himself.

14) “Tories” are anyone who disagrees with you. Lifelong Labour members who dissent from the new party line are obviously “Red Tories”. Bourgeoisie class enemies, the lot of them.

15) The “Tories” are so scared of the Dear Leader they are “running for the hills”. Any strongly worded opposition to socialism can be written-off as “fear”. They aren’t laughing at you, honest!

16) However badly your man – and it is usually a man – does in any public forum (like, oh, let’s say Question Time) never stop repeating that he “won” the argument.

17) Whatever you do to stop the “Tories” is always justified. Insults, lies, threats, intimidation, even actual physical violence, are always justified if they further the cause.

18) Justify everything in the name of “the people”. Never bother to actually ask the people what they think. The ‘workers movement’ ARE the people.