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Keep Corbyn!

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There are a lot of people who at some point supported Jeremy Corbyn, but are now saying ‘with a heavy heart’ – always with a heavy heart – that he has to go. I would like to ask them to think one more time about this: to ask themselves why they supported him in the first place, and what has changed.

Most of the Parliamentary Labour Party hate Corbyn. More than that, they hate what he stands for. When they claim to think he’s a nice guy, they may well be telling the truth. What they can’t tolerate is the possibility of a real challenge to the continuation of the Thatcherite and then Blairite politics which blights the lives of the vast majority of people. Until recently – for my generation, FOR OUR ENTIRE LIVES – there has been no hint whatever of a parliamentary alternative or even a meaningful challenge to this politics.

When the challenge finally came, some people who had always claimed to be horrified by the status quo, and had stressed the need to work to challenge it from within the system, found reasons not to support it: people wouldn’t vote for it, or not yet; it would split the party; it would give the Tories yet another term in power. But others, perhaps after much hesitation and soul-searching, decided to back Corbyn. The anti-austerity politics that he stood for was overwhelmingly popular among Labour members and supporters. The Parliamentary Labour Party tried everything to stop him, and to discredit the movement behind him. Slightly more sophisticated critics maintained that they personally would love to see Corbyn succeed, but the nasty PLP and the nasty media would crucify him, and his current mass support would wither away; we needed someone who would be found acceptable by the nasty PLP and the nasty media; hence, we needed someone with nasty politics – but Corbyn’s supporters could hear the screams of the baby being thrown out with the bathwater.

What has happened since then to change people’s minds about Corbyn and make their hearts heavy? Did he sell out, compromise his anti-austerity message, or start pandering to racist anti-immigration sentiment to make himself ‘electable’ (like the Labour Party in May 2015, or the people Corbyn beat in the leadership contest)? Did he give up on the whole integrity thing, and pretend that he’d always loved the European Union and its pro-market, pro-austerity politics more than life itself?

What has happened is a referendum victory for Brexit, not because of Corbyn or Momentum – who, unlike the Leave campaign, did not pretend the EU was responsible for starving the NHS – but because Conservative and New Labour politicians spent decades making people’s lives worse, then insinuating that it was the fault of brown people, Muslims and Eastern Europeans, until David Cameron decided to try to get his frenemies off his back for a bit by giving them what they wanted and making people vote on something almost nobody understands, then trying to persuade them to vote the right way by telling them how well their lives are going as things are and how bright their futures will be if they stick with him. Which didn’t ring very true.

The EU has nothing much to do with immigration, but that didn’t matter. The referendum result had little to do with Corbyn, but that doesn’t matter either. The PLP have seen their chance to move against him.

What else? There may be a general election sooner than we thought. People who want the Tories out are worried they might win again. And some of them seem to think that the way to stop that is to withdraw their support for the leader of the opposition, just before an election, and replace him with … someone. They are confident that whoever this someone is, (s)he will be better at winning votes than Jeremy Corbyn, even though he isn’t at all bad at winning votes, especially just after people have said he can’t win. Their maturity and good sense tells them that enough is enough. ‘New!’ they say. ‘New, new! Out with the old new and in with the new new!’ – never mind that it looks a lot like the same old same old.

This isn’t maturity, or realism, or courage. Realism now means sticking with what we’ve got, at least for more than ten months. It means remembering why we ended up here in the first place, and resisting the temptation to find reasons to wander off, you and your heavy heart. Because, right now, it is Corbyn’s Labour or nothing.

Comments

  1. Alan Benfield says:

    Hear, hear!

    The numpties of the PLP don’t seem to realise that it is precisely their policies (or perhaps, more accurately, their craven attitude that Labour can only get elected if it steals the other side’s clothes that has led them to adopt such policies, and that’s being charitable) that are part of the problem.

    And after all, why elect Tory Lite when you can have the Real Thing?

    Time for a Labour Party which will go back to real Labour policies, like:

    Repealing ‘Right to Buy’ and building rent-controlled social housing.

    Compulsorily purchasing properties where the landlord does not conform to housing standards, renovating them and adding them to the social housing stock.

    Increasing the minimum wage to force low-pay employers to pay for their staff rather than expecting the taxpayer to subsidise them by providing in-work benefits (one of the worst ideas Gordon Brown ever had).

    Increase public spending on HMRC recruitment with a view to aggressively investigating the tax position of large (and particularly multinational) businesses and also (as it is HMRC’s responsibility) to investigate whether businesses are paying the legal minimum wage.

    Invest government money in buying out expensive PFI and other PPP contracts to save public money in the future.

    I could go on, but you get the general picture.

    • Vit Kolar says:

      Having lived for more than 30 years in a socialist country, I think you missed at least two more ‘real’ Labour policies that Jeremy may approve of:
      Central planning and One party state.

      Britain and Labour tried it several times in the past, but it didn’t work and alas no workers paradise has ever been created…

      And I’m afraid this harking back to the old good times allowed the Leavers to win…but then again, Jeremy doesn’t mind to much.

      • Keith Reader says:

        Proofread:-

        It is bullshit, and either stupid or malicious bullshit (very probably both), to claim that Jeremy Corbyn might approve of a one-party state.

      • Dukenwala says:

        “One part state”
        Why bother commenting if all you have to bring to the discussion is facetious misrepresentations. Th Daily Mail site is easily accessed.

        Back to the debate. I find it quite ironic that Angela Eagle took a similar line of attack in claiming Cornbyn wants to bring back policies from the 1983 Labour Manifesto, given that many of those policies have been implemented such as banning fox hunting; minimum wage; banking control etc.

        I gather she didn’t bother to read the document she cites, but that would be the modus operandi of a Blairite; rehtoric over substance or as an old Labourite said “sizzle over sausage”

  2. Mat Snow says:

    I joined the Labour Party on the afternoon Corbyn was elected leader, believing that here at last was someone who would steer it to the people-first socialism that had long been abandoned by Blair and his heirs who believed Labour was only viable as a post-Thatcher provider of a bigger safety net than that offered by the Conservatives but otherwise in broad agreement with their thinking across all areas of the economy, welfare, education, health, defence and so on.

    My only doubt about Corbyn was this: that he may prove to be no leader of his admittedly schizoid party, divided between the PLP, largely parachuted-in professional politicos of the calibre that gives self-serving middle management a bad name, and a grassroots membership whose numbers tend to the young, urban and middle-class rather than its old working-class backbone.

    But everyone can unite behind a winner, and in the one area where Corbyn could demonstrate his skills as a winner — as the Leader of the Opposition — he has surely failed. When he offered a gentler style of political discourse, that was because personally he can offer no other. Slice it how you like but personality really counts, and rhetorical fire is needed as well as forensic skills. The most successful English politician of recent years, Boris Johnson, demonstrates how little the latter matter when you have the former.

    Corbyn is a bookish herbivore utterly out of his depth opposing a government even as calamitous as this one, spurning open goal after open goal. The last thing I want is some mealy-mouthed deadbeat like Liz Kendall leading the Labour Party; is there anyone there who shares Corbyn’s ideology but has teeth?

    • michael bosley says:

      I’m sure there is. But the PLP wouldn’t want them either

      • Alan Benfield says:

        Agreed, Michael: the PLP is so captive to its Blairite history that it would prefer to self-destruct than to genuinely consider ways in which it can reconnect with its working-class base – apart from appealing to racist and anti-immigrant sentiments, of course.

        I am a child of the 50’s (born 1955) who grew up in the 60s and 70s: Labour lost credibility in the late 70s by not dealing with its problems with the union movement (perceived as too powerful and unreasonable), which ultimately ushered in Thatcherism.

        Is it too much to ask of the Labour Party now that it accepts that the problems of the 70s have gone away and that the electorate might be grown-up enough to accept some ideas which are actually in the interests of ordinary working people?

        By this I mean, of course, progressive measures which once again, as in the 70s, distribute money in the economy down rather than up in the social hierarchy.

        Sorry, many may not agree with me, but in my lifetime the 70s are still the time which was the best for working people in the UK.

        • ianbrowne says:

          The 70s have become a tabloid byword for near anarchy and trade union “barons” running amok. But now enough time has passed to take a more considered view and the 70s were actually a pretty good time. The oil price shock caused most of the inflation, and the Barber boom caused the rest. Keynesianism, such as it ever was, had very little to do with it. As you said, income inequality fell, and the rate of growth was OK, about 2.5% in the 70s. I’ve read all sorts of idiotic rubbish about the 70s with people getting the most simple facts wrong. For example, Harold Evans had an article in the Guardian a few months ago in which he claimed Thatcher inherited a recession. This is simply false. The recession was over by 75. Thatcher actually inherited a growing economy and then brought about the Thatcher/Howe recession of 1980.

          You don’t need to apologize for thinking the 70s were a good time. There were problems, of course, but actually the reality bears almost no resemblance to the tabloid picture of endless strikes and recession. It would be nice if a bit less tabloidisation of the 70s occurred and a bit more accuracy. The 70s were OK – not perfect, but life never is. I’d happily return to the 70s.

          • nickye says:

            I was born in 1968 and grew up in a council flat/house in the 70s and 80s. Admittedly I don’t remember a lot of the politics, although have read up since, but i do feel that people have become much more individualistic since then, and the big change to me has been attitude to home/property. We just wanted a place to live – which was secure, clean, safe – and council housing provided this. It wasn’t a perfect time, of course, but now when I see the sky-high rents and mortgages, it is extremely demoralising.

            I think it all became acceptable to call you home a ‘property’, and keep moving upwards, rather than building a safe home in a stable community. I was lucky enough to buy my own flat and then house in the 1990s, but since then have seen prices rocket. Yes, my house is worth a lot more, but this isn’t what I want at all. I want other people to have what I had, and fairness for all. Sadly so many of the houses in my road are just now rented shorter term, and people can’t afford to buy. It’s unstable for children who have to keep moving areas and schools.

            I also dislike this idea that helping working class people means giving people the opportunity for social mobility. Not that I’m against getting a better job etc, but everyone should have respect whatever they do and a decent place to live without having to ‘get out’ of the working class.

        • Joe Morison says:

          The trouble is that in the 70s governments could still restrict capital from flowing out of their countries. Try and redistribute today in the way they did then, and the money would have left your country (if it was even there in the first place) at the touch of a button.

          We have a global economy, and that means we have to have some sort of proper global regulation so that capital cannot simply escape any attempt at state control.

          • frmurphy98 says:

            No doubt about it. The world’s choice seems prettty simple: a new Bretton Woods or inevitable suicide by banker. Problem is, it’s difficult to envisage Wall St puppet Hillary as a new FDR and there’s no JM Keynes about either…

    • FinlayGlen says:

      Completely, whole-heartedly agree with this. The integrity is great and the politics are good but you can’t help watching him and thinking, ‘This is a bit boring.’ You can have integrity and be a great arguer, in fact it can sometimes help, and it’s what we need! Someone to take ’em all on with vigour and intelligence and passion.

    • picklewick says:

      Owen Smith but he’s being sidelined by Angela Eagle, the New Labours candidate

    • Waltraute says:

      Well, it has originality: why can’t Corbyn be more like Boris? To be serious, I fundamentally disagree with you, both about Boris’s success as a politician rather than a clown or, worse, a celebrity, and about Corbyn’s leadership qualities. He’s not charismatic–which makes having a huge personal following something of an achievement–but Jeremy Corbyn has always struck a tone of integrity and moderation among the embarrassing braggarts of the House of Commons. A cheap shot is not a victory. We have not seen follies from him such as the Ed Stone (remember that?) because he actually has some judgement. The hatred and contempt directed towards him in the media testify not to failure, but to the danger that he might succeed if the barrage lifts for a moment. He may yet do so, faced with an opponent, in Angela Eagle, who has behaved more like Gove than Boris.

  3. michael bosley says:

    I talked with quite a few who supported Corbyn last year, but who seemed to become increasingly disillusioned as the Referendum campaign went on. “Where is he?” they wailed.

    Some of the answer lay in the mutual antagonism between Corbyn and the mass media (and in contrast to the evil circus of the “pro-business” Brexiteers). But more fundamentally, all of the recent history of the Labour Party is inimical to the kind of community-based radical politics that are required to challenge the hegemony of neo-liberalism and the UKIP style racism that it spawns. No Labour leader could have done the job with the Party as it stands.

    Sticking with Corbyn now will cause major upheavals – maybe even the liquidation of the Party. Reinstating a leader acceptable to the PLP will mean a return to business as usual.

    Those are scary alternatives.

  4. JWA says:

    Thank you! I’m glad someone at the LRB apart from Tariq Ali seems to get it. Death or glory! Socialism’s last stand – we won’t be able to get anyone else on the ballot it’s Jeremy or bust. The PLP campaign is beginning to look desperate – the way the smears of the last few days have poured out along with all the stage managed resignations will keep a political historian busy for years. I’m not sure what my favourite moment to date has been – The Times podcast calling Corbyn a ‘cockroach’ or the Daily Mail urging its readers to join the Labour Party to vote so that the country has ‘a proper opposition’. Although probably my favourite aspect is how the rebels can’t pick a leader because they haven’t got a single candidate who didn’t vote for the Iraq War or isn’t in some other way spectacularly ethically compromised. What a bunch of charlatans. The bullshit barrage is relentless – but I hoping members won’t have the wool pulled over their eyes again. Of all the insults going around the one that Labour members are somehow of a different of a different species to Labour votes is surely the most noxious. Why would anyone want to be a member of a political party if MPs think them too weird to listen to?

  5. Graucho says:

    Curious to see history repeat itself. In 78/79 the unions did all they could to get Mrs. Thatcher elected as prime minister. She then trashed the economy, became incredibly unpopular and what did Labour do ? Split and then spent more than a decade sitting on its hands on the oppostion benches. Here we are again. Tories split and in disarray and what do labour and the unions do ? It isn’t Corbyn’s anti-austerity views that make him unelectable, it’s his views on defence which may be acceptable to the left of the Labour party, but which won’t go down well in the country and, talking of history repeating itself, will rekindle all the rows that kept the party split and out of office in the 50’s.

    • Stu Bry says:

      There is evidence that the SDLP split was massaged by the CIA.

      What we have here is the desire of the PLP to oust Corbyn being manipulated by Blair and Campbell to attempt to remove Corbyn before the Chilcot report is published.

      The PLP handed Corbyn the leadership when they chose to abstain on the Welfare bill. Now they are trying to remove him without even an alternate leader. Can they really be so politically stupid?

  6. Erin Nash says:

    Spot on Lorna. Thank you for writing this and getting it out there.

    All the best to you,
    Erin.

  7. twistedbyknaves says:

    Nicely put.

    I have been voting for Labour for forty years. It is with a heavy heart that I have to say that they have become irrelevant. They might at least embrace Corbyn and make one last serious attempt at social justice.

    Rather than going down as snivelling “me too”s in a doomed attempt to out pander the Tories and UKIP.

  8. rashdad says:

    Yes, I agree about the “heavy hearts”. My problem is that JC seems a bit short on vision, but he’s by no means alone in that, and I’ll vote for him again (if they let him on to the ballot paper this time!)

    This is all about ownership. Who are the legitimate owners of the Labour Party? JC will hang on for as long as he can, for the sake of his supporters, and I hope he/we will win. But as for connecting with traditional Labour voters – I fear that horse has bolted for at least a generation, whichever side wins.

  9. JonathanDawid says:

    You make the common mistake of assuming that MPs, being politicians, are solely motivated by politics. Of course politics is important to them, but they are also men and women with families to feed. I know a senior Labour politician (one of those who resigned from the shadow cabinet recently). As he explained it to me in the run up to the last election, provided a leader is doing sufficiently well that the existing cohort of opposition MPs don’t have to worry about losing their own seats, they’re not going to dump him just because he doesn’t look like winning enough new seats at the next election to form a government. But when there’s an election on the way and they fear they might lose their seats – then they will happily wield the knife.

    In other words, the attempt to replace Corbyn is nothing to do with his ideology – it’s because there’s a strong chance of an election later this year and Labour MPs think (probably rightly) that with Corbyn in chance many of them will be out of a job.

  10. Joe Morison says:

    “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best.” The question we should be asking is not who we would most like to see as our next Prime Minister, but who can we realistically work towards making our next Prime Minister.

    I voted for Corbyn but it’s clear that if he leads (what’s left of) Labour (if he stays) into the next election, the Tories will win a huge majority. This is no time for a protest vote.

    • Dukenwala says:

      I would be curious to know how “it is clear” that Corbyn’s Labour party would lose to a “huge” tory majority? Furthermore, I find it hard to see how an identikit Blairite alternative would fare any better.

      My view is that Brexit was as much a vote on austerity (with many labour areas hoodwinked by the 350m claim) as it was about immigration. Given that Corbyn is anti-austerity and wants to negotiate the curtailment of free movement, I don’t see why he cannot win those areas in a general election.

      But then again the almost blanket negative coverage of Corbyn would likely continue, so you may not be wrong.

  11. Graucho says:

    As Aneurin Bevan might have said this is no time for emotional spasms.

  12. sol_adelman says:

    Good blog. Nothing has changed, and polls had been suggesting that Corbyn was growing on the public. The motivation for this sad coup attempt is not concern about Labour’s electoral prospects, but pure ideological hatred. The vast majority of the PLP were only selected because they were right-wing ‘centrists’ / ‘moderates’. Lest we forget, they’re people who thought Ed Miliband was way too leftwing.

    • Simon Wood says:

      Do people still say “way”? I say to my daughters, “Do people still say ‘cool’ or ‘awesome’?” if I catch them at it. Oh, but they are deterred.

      I am old Labour. I believe in English. I do not indulge the young.

      The young Labourariat have found their father figure, who will encourage their ardent feelings about freedom and all that, justice, how being poor makes you genuine and authentic, all that.

      A quick look at past performance of Labour significantly winning (1945, 1964 and 1997) points to them winning again in about 2030.

      But that may have to be put back a few notches – until the twelfth of never and that’s a long, long time.

      • sol_adelman says:

        So long as you’re making sense to yourself, that’s the main thing…

        • Simon Wood says:

          It’s a South London thing, bruv. We are that bit nearer le Continong. We like Europe.

          We would fight for it.

  13. Rikkeh says:

    Not since Kamenev has a bogeyman of the left had such huge apparent influence over the upper echelons a party than Blair apparently still has over the Labour party.

  14. HomeruleforYorkshire says:

    I fear that the turmoil in politics right now has very little to do with personalities or leaders.
    It is simply that there is a danger that a socialist leader, challenging the inequality in this country, is actually proving popular enough with the electorate to win an election. Atlee was a complete surprise to a Churchill led elite in 1945 but they soon reversed the situation and the establishment took over yet again. Corbyn likewise threatens the status quo.
    This cannot be allowed to happen. For decades, from the gatherings of Davos and Bilderberg, to the G8 and the British establishment, backed by the Trans National Capitalist Class, there has been resolute action to disrupt and scatter any attempt to disturb the status quo of the global power elite.
    Should Britain challenge this, why not France and the rest of the EU and beyond. That must not happen.
    The rich and powerful will always be able to maintain their position of power and privilege.
    But I’m with Corbyn anyway…………

  15. LaBroo says:

    If at this moment, the main candidates for the Conservative leadership included an ideologue the mirror image of Corbyn, it would all look a bit clearer. Particularly if the Tory party and its membership were split between centrist Tories and a core of vocal and fervent supporters for this ideologue, who saw a rare chance of real conviction politics coming back.

    People would scratch their heads in disbelief: a divisive, inflexible, ideological candidate is not going to work in this divided situation. A lot of very dull, practical and thankless work needs to be put into implementing Brexit and a lot of Mitterand-like, multi-faced posturing will have to go into smoothing over the cracks that opened in British society during the campaign.

  16. martyn94 says:

    I am used to SHOUTY CAPITALS below the line: it’s a novelty to get them in the blog. For better or worse, it is simply not the case that the vast majority of us have been impoverished by Thatcherite and Blairite policies: many of us did, and do, pretty well, thank you.

    Brexit may have been a cry of rage for some, but it was equally a sign that many people of my sort of age felt secure enough just to go a bit bonkers. How Labour (who I have always voted for, but never thought to join) deals with that, I don’t claim to know. But I wouldn’t make a fetish of the “working-class base” (whatever that means in 2016): it hasn’t covered itself in glory over the last week or so.

  17. Graucho says:

    Hopefully some enterprising composer is working on Brexit the opera. You really couldn’t make up the events of the past week.

  18. mpaterson says:

    Corbyn faces three charges which, if true, are very serious. Firstly, that he deliberately sabotaged the remain campaign by cancelling meetings and refusing to share a platform with previous labour leaders. Secondly, that he doesn’t take anti semi risk in the party seriously. And thirdly, that he is a bad leader.

    Of the three, the most clear cut is the second – he is no anti Semite but his use of language is (at best) insensitive and careless, as demonstrated in his remarks at the launch of the recent report into labour’s anti semitism. The other two are rumours and insinuations, reported at second hand in a Corbyn-sceptic media. Lanour voters are left with two choices – believe in Corbyn (& therefore, bizarrely, that the PLP are all Blairite conspiracists) or believe the PLP (& therefore that they are the hard working back.benchers that Corbyn once claimed to be). Something is missing, and the situation is reminscent of Brown’s leadership, when he was clearly hated but no one knew why. It only became clear to those of us not in politics or the media, once Damien McBride’s book came out.

    I vote foe Corbyn because I wanted a new kind of politics- kinder, less celebrity based, more thoughtful. This is not the same as hating all Labour MPs, and I find this trend for the righteous contempt for politicians almost as worrying as Gove’s populist plea towards contempt for experts.

  19. IPFreely says:

    Plus ca change.. anybody remember Patrick Gordon Walker? Wilson wanted him as foreign secretary and the uncle of a friend of mine who was an mp for a London constituency with a huge Labour majority was told “take a peerage, give up your seat and do your party a service.” So he did. Walker stood as candidate and the conservative was returned. Try again, this time I think Nuneaton was chosen and the candidate took the Chiltern Hundreds (or whatever the jargon was) and once again, the voters returned a conservative candidate. I can’t remember where he got his seat from but the moral is that labour voters were loyal, principled and didn’t let themselves be pushed about by the party bosses. Let’s hope they keep on supporting Corbyn.

  20. Tony Graham says:

    Excellent, Lorna! Incidentally, no one can predict how well Jeremy might do in a General Election. No one anticipated the multi-millioned Bernie Sanders movement either. Much depends on building a strong political alliance between left labour and the unions. The key demands are not hard to fathom. Defend NHS. Defend public education. No to privatisation. Unite against racism. Free movement. An end to imperial wars. That’ll do for starters.

  21. Graucho says:

    Leadership is what the word says. If you can’t lead 172 of your own MPs then you can’t lead the country. The electorate will get it even if if Mr. Corbyn does not and Labour will be reduced to a rump if he leads it into an election.

  22. Gibbon says:

    No thanks. He doesn’t believe in parliamentary democracy and, to put it simply, I do. End of story. The ideological debate can continue and I see a convergence between the Tristram Hunt’s and John McDonnell’s of this world which is a surprise to everyone. But parliamentary democracy is non-negotiable. If people of a Momentumish persuasion want to form a popular movement party based on Latin American ideas and tactics then that is fine. But that is not the Labour Party, it is not in the Labour Party’s constitution, it is not compatible with the tone and tenor of British socialism and I think would be spectacularly unappealing, democratically, to our people.

  23. alkatraz says:

    Feeble piece making all the usual Corbyn Cult assumptions. I am surprised to find it here, It is predicated on massive generalizations.

    1. All that came before in Labour (for years and years) was all bad.

    2. Everything, from the referendum result to austerity can be lad a the door of Blair and new Labour.

    3. Coupled with that there is the usual wilful blindness to Corbyn’s zero skills as an orator or a persuader of any kind. If its author had been on the doorstep for Labour during the referendum as I was she’s have found the answer to why Corbyn must go everywhere she looked. He does not connect. It is as simple as that. he baffles, enrages and irritates voters which is not surprising.

    4. His ‘niceness’ is itself now a matter of debate. Weak shy people backed up by bullies and intimidators are in many ways the most dangerous of all

    He must go.

    • Tanvyeboyo says:

      Thank you for reminding us of Blair. We seem to be forgetting Chilcot a bit too fast.
      Either the Blairite PLP is in the wrong party or the grassroots are..
      Time to decide. They were all very quiet when Chilcot laid heavy charges at the door of Blair and of all those who supported him. The PLP’s is the War Criminals’ party. Lest we forget.
      What do they propose to do now? Talk tough on immigration and let the Tories drag out the Brexit process while the Tories make the less well-off pay more and more?

      • alkatraz says:

        As if the whole PLP are identikit Blairites. Do you really believe this? Can you eve name six of them? The party includes many different shades , some identical with Corbyn’s, some more centrist but they are almost all united in thinking he is hopeless. Why? Do you seriously think they would be doing this if they thought this wholly unpersuasive man had a prayer. I was out campaigning for the Euref on the doorsteps for Labour and found Labour voters do not relate to Corbyn in any way. He irritates and baffles them in equal measure, many can’t stand him. If only his Cult would get out and talk to ordinary voters they might begin to see how badly this is going.

        Either way the end will be desperate. But if he does not go now, it will be far worse. We can only hope sanity will prevail and he is defeated amongst the members who are losing hope. If by some amazing miracle he got to fight an election it would be a massacre of a kind we have rarely ever seen and for his sake he should step down before it comes to that.

  24. piratejenny says:

    How I agree with the article. My only concern is that any Labour leader is likely to be rubbished by the majority of the media – think bacon sandwiches. The only one who wasn’t rubbished wasn’t Labour – and took us into a vainglorious and damaging war.

  25. Waltraute says:

    Just wanted to thank the LRB for having the courage to print this.

  26. David Sharp says:

    Good piece, thank you.
    To think that the so-called rebels sank so low as to try to prevent Corbyn from even taking part in the new leadership election. Fortunately, they’ve failed.

    In the past 36 hours I’ve read and watched most of the statements concerning, or published by, Angela Eagle. Not one of them, to date, has contained a single political position or policy proposal. Which confirms that all of this is about style, rather than substance.

    • Tanvyeboyo says:

      14 out of 32 tried effectively to deselect him. Sauce for the goose…. Time NuLabour had their gander cooked for them. Timing of this pathetic putsch is all about Chilcot and little to do with Brexit or other challenges facing Britain. How do these rebels expect to gain ground in Scotland, for example? PLP is no more than an electoral clique, like the Beltway Democrats in US Congress. Something has to give. Either dissolve the PLP or…. dissolve the membership, declare them all Trots and purge them before they deselect all thsoe who, like Eagle, voted for war in Iraq, for bombing Syria, for Tory cuts.

  27. hullister says:

    At the first political meeting I ever went to, in 1950, the Labour candidate was being assailed by the village’s wits for the NHS’s profligacy with its dispensing – free prescriptions, no less, and “everyone” getting free wigs, dentures and surgical gauze that they were all using instead of lace curtains. Three guesses for who was stirring those particular lies that even a 12 year old could see through.
    If JC has “zero skills as an orator or persuader”, can alkatraz tell us how he came to get so many people signing up to membership? People who actually hear him speak, unmediated by an incomprehending media that only knows how to ask for more and more sensational material, can hear a persuasive, committed person with principles who doesn’t do sound bites for tomorrow’s headlines. It was the opposition to him that utterly lacked any suggestion of principle short of warmed-over Blairism that let him be elected.
    Not, alas, that I think he will win a general election – yet: the Labour party has never been led from the left, and the globalized world of uber-finance, with its press pack in grateful pursuit, isn’t going to knuckle under any time soon. Keep struggling, comrades.

  28. Nickel says:

    Corbyn’s big promise to the people who voted him in was that he would strip back soundbites, get rid of the presidential style leadership contest, and make politics in Westminster, and in the Labour party, about policy. He engaged normal people in Westminster debates; he ignored criticisms of his personal appearance; he explained things clearly and passionately, and made his sentences in speeches long enough so that they couldn’t be edited by journalists trying to extract bits of his argument for their news bulletins. It was a new-style of leadership and debate, and although for many it made him unelectable, for large swathes it made politics sincere and intelligent.

    What has changed since the EU referendum is that, although he did not himself make false claims or deliebrately energise an increasingly xenophobic campaign, he did not make an attempt to highlight an alternative view, whether that be pro or against remaining in the EU.

    Additionally, since the calls for his resignation, he has forgotten about the policy and made the news about him and reduced the Labour party to its leader – something at the start he insisted he never wanted to do. While the Conservative party was crumbling and bickering, he stole the headlines for himself; and while 30 per cent of the eligible electorate did not vote during the referendum, and more were disenfranchised, he congratulated himself on getting a few thousand out to campaign for him to remain the leader.

    I joined the Labour party because of Corbyn, and I will now leave the party because of him, with, as you say, a heavy heart.

    • Senexparvus says:

      I joined the party because of Corbyn and his being, against all odds still its leader, is the reason why I am still a member. It is perfectly true that his performance has been, at best, lacklustre but I know that I would have done far worse had I had to do a job as onerous as his whilst under attack by my enemies and getting friendly fire from those whose primary duty is to support me. He is still there because he could see over the heads of the pygmies who beset him to those who in their thousands can see a radical party beyond the Blairite nightmare. And if that is unrealistic, well, it is we who have the power to change reality.

  29. Peter Smith says:

    I am typing this wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with “What would Clem do?”

    I was wearing it at a rally just now in the center of Buffalo, NY – a gathering without speeches but with a great many people who were there to talk with people they did not know – about the seven gun fatalities last week that have unnerved us all. This is the day when Bernie Sanders acknowledged the NEED to endorse Mrs Clinton, and did so without – in my view – losing an ounce of integrity.

    What Clem would do – everything I have ever read about him tells me so – is hold on to his integrity. I believe that Jeremy Corbyn does the same thing more than most politicians. And that, with Bernie Sanders, he will continue to rally people (and young ones especially) who believe that the power of the corporate world must be challenged and can be denied.

    I am 82. The MP for the town I grew up in is Cat Smith. I rely on her to maintain her integrity and fight for (as Bernie said in his long letter today – headed “Forever Forward”) “racial, social, economic and environmental justice” and seek “to create a government that works for all of us.”

    Occupy Wall Street was not a failure; it was a starting point.

  30. Paul Cairns says:

    Let’s be realistic. Labour faces the prospect of becoming little more than a political club without a serious focus on electability. Corbyn’s strength seems to rest on the good showing he made during the original leadership contest. Many, many people are hungry for change – they are certain the new economic order has left them behind. This is true the world over, not just in post-Thatcher/Blair Britain. This same sense of abandonment has underpinned both Sanders and Trump in the US presidential race – though to differing groups. But, to make any useful changes to the defective status quo it is necessary first to gain power. In judging any prospective political leader the key question is “How will he/she fare at the ballot box”. No one can doubt Corbyn’s good intentions – but he seems certain never to be electable.

  31. Evanss10 says:

    But he will never be Prime Minister (does anybody seriously think Labour can win under him?) so the Tories are set to rule for eternity. Please don’t tell me (as Momentum people do) that this doesn’t matter, that parliamentary power is some sort of bourgeois illusion. Prosperous LRB readers may not realise but a Labour party that’s gone AWOL means real hardship for ordinary people and an attack on institutions we all value. The idea that anyone to the right of the Trots around Corbyn is really a Tory is absurd. The Left made the same argument in 2000 when Gore fought Bush and the Left backed Nader – so putting Bush into power. Labour has to win the support of people who might vote Tory or it is lost. I make an argument of pragmatism (he won’t win so get rid of him), but his foreign ‘policy’ is also drivel – it’s OK for Russia to annex Crimea because it was driven to do so by Nato expansionism; solidarity with the Castro junta in Cuba; no problem with Kim Jong-un or the Chinese Communist Party; sharing a platform with Hamas but not a Tory. Pass the sick bag Alice. There will never be a labour government under Corbyn. At the moment, I feel there will never be a Labour government again. Desperate. But, hay, the Trots can feel self-righteous.

    • Senexparvus says:

      I agree with much of the sentiment represented in your post. One thing that has, however, been missing from expressions of the “there will never be another Labour government” view has been a recognition that the primary reason for this has nothing to do with who fills the leadership role but rather the loss of 50 or more Scottish seats. Without those, you can win an awful lot of Tory marginals and still be out of government. It was a Blairite party that lost those and a neo-Blairite leader won’t get them back. I can’t see any way in the medium term of getting them back. Thus, the reason why there may never be another Labour government is the first-past-the-post system. The only way to get a government in which Labour participates is to form an electoral pact for the purpose of bringing in proportional representation and, at last, making Britain a democracy.

      • tony_gee says:

        It wasn’t a party under Blairites that managed to finish third behind the Tories in the last Scottish election though.

        Corbyn may be a nice guy (although some of the activities of his supporters would suggest otherwise if you should be judged by the standards of your friends). But whether he was unfairly maligned from the start or not, he simply cannot win a general election.

        Given the strength of the SNP in Scotland, Labour need to win many more seats in England to have any chance. And that likelihood is receding all the time.

        And, unfortunately as it has been for most of my adult life, the choice will continue to be the least worst option.

  32. David Alderson says:

    I think many of the people contributing to this thread have missed the point. Support for Corbyn is about support for a different direction for the Labour Party. If he goes, the PLP will continue on its rightwards trajectory and will revise the party’s constitution to ensure members are once again kept in their place. (Remember: Ed Miliband was also undermined by the Blairites, who share significant responsibility for his failure at the last election, and all because he was the ‘wrong’ candidate, i.e. not David).

    Corbyn has not been given the opportunity to lead. I for one can’t imagine how he’s managed to continue in the face of the abuse and humiliation heaped on him by his ‘own’ side. What people need to remember, however, is that this is about the direction of the Party. That is surely a clarifying thought. Do the doubters really want to return custodianship of the party to those who voted for the Iraq war and responded to the last election by rejecting Miliband’s timid dalliance with social democratic principles?

    One final point: at her coronation, Theresa May outlined a programme more radical than anything the Labour Party has put forward in over twenty years. Politics is changing; the Blairites are irrelevant. They do not offer comfort, security and a future.

    • michael bosley says:

      Excellent points, David Alderson.

      The current PLP is the legacy of Blair’s capture of the candidate selection process – Angela Eagle for one began her own Parliamentary career after being imposed on the Wallasey consituency in 1992 after its CLP was closed down by the leadership.

      Consequently, many of the current PLP are radically at odds with their own CLPs – as evidenced by the numbers of constituency parties passing resolutions in favour of Corbyn – and with the Trades Unions.

      If they are really interested in unity, democracy and national change, they would be uniting around Corbyn and the radical impulse that put him in office. The current PLP’s alternative to Corbyn is simply more of the same narrow electoralism that dominated the Blair years.

  33. murack@wanadoo.fr says:

    I am fully in agreement with many of the policies proposed by Corbyn, but over the referendum and more generally in his dealings with the PLP he has shown no ability to lead or to manage different views. Not changing your ideas for 25 years may be seen as consistency but it is also indicates a lack of maturity and development. We do need a leader to put forward new policies for the Labour Party and to rethink how to manage the economy, it is clear to me that Corbyn cannot do that.

  34. deadsparrow says:

    “racist anti-immigration sentiment”

    Worried about immigration? Racist. Slightly worried? Still Racist. Concerned about misogyny, intolerance…STOP RIGHT THERE…Islamaphobe! Not to mention Racist

    You people are so predictable it’s not funny any more. Corbyn has yet to respond to John Mann’s questions about his acquiescence in child sex abuse in his constituency. Take him with you.

  35. Oh yes, please do keep Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn as long as you like. He is the best ever friend of the Tory party. Makes Bernie Sanders seem reasonable. If he is the face of modern socialism the conservatives have nothing to fear.

  36. immaculate says:

    Several things puzzle me about Corbyn’s supporters, and here’s just a couple of them:

    1 They seem obsessed with Blair, Blairism, Blairites. Did they not vote Labour when Blair was leader and/or PM? If they did, weren’t they endorsing B-ism? If they didn’t, weren’t they giving passive support to the Other Party? Or did they vote for B-ism “with a heavy heart”?

    And in the last election, did they similarly vote for the now-reviled Blairite MPs? With an equally “heavy heart”?

    2 They insist that Labour under Corbyn can win over the electorate and return a Labour Government. However, when members of their own party, and their own MPs, voice a view that is not the Corbynite line, they’re called Red Tory Scum, and told to F…. Off and join the Tories. So if (life-long) Labour voters, and (life-long) Labour members, and Labour MPs are scum and told to F…. Off, what about Tory and Ukip voters? You know, those Tory and Ukip voters that Labour will have to win over to voting Labour if Labour is to have any chance of regaining marginals in a General Election.

    I’m genuinely puzzled by all this, speaking as a piece of Red Tory Scum who has duly F…ed Off.

    • Dominic Rice says:

      It’s pretty disingenuous to single out Corbyn supporters as name-callers. The right of the Labour party has been throwing every kind of derogatory label and smear at people on the left as long as anybody can remember.

      • immaculate says:

        Well, all I have is the evidence of the comments made below the line on the Guardian and Independent sites. Red Tory Scum comments win there hands down. Granted, there is the occasional swivel-eyed loon comment aimed at the left.

        But you’re missing the bigger point. If those in the centre and right of the Labour party are Red Tory Scum, that’s what percentage of the vote? Well, Labour polled 30% of the vote in 2015, so let’s give each sector a third – left-wing Labour 10%, centre Labour 10% and right-wing Labour 10%

        Naturally, all the Lib Dems, Tories and Ukip are considered scum of varying hues, so that’s another 57% of the vote. Add the two, and you’ve 77% of the 2015 voters down as scum. The SNP’s 5% is lost, it would seem. And you’re going to win a General Election like that?

        You’re going to persuade enough of the near 80% of the electorate who disagree with you to change their minds and vote for you by considering them scum, and calling them scum, and telling them to F… Off?

    • Phil Edwards says:

      1. I’ve never voted for a party led by Tony Blair. I was a solid Labour voter from the early 1980s to the mid-90s – just as I have been since 2010 – but I didn’t vote Labour in 1997, 2001 or 2005. In 2005, in fact, I positively advocated a Green or Liberal Democrat vote, on the grounds that Labour’s majority wasn’t under threat & it would do the party good to face a bit of opposition from the Left. (I didn’t anticipate the Lib Dems’ big switchover – but then, who did?)

      I think I’m pretty typical of one group of ‘Corbynites’ – the middle-aged Labour returners. Another group we hear a lot about are the ‘youth’, and it’s worth remembering that anyone aged 28 or under never had the chance to vote for Labour under Blair.

      2. I don’t go in for name-calling myself, but I think the logic is that there are many more Conservative Party voters than there are people with a thought-out commitment to Conservative values. The idea is that the voters – or some of them – can be won round by appealing to their interests as working people (and to specific policies which they support); they may have voted Tory, but they’re not Tories. Someone who genuinely believes that public services should be privatised, by contrast, believes in a key (contemporary) Tory value and hence is a Tory, even if they’ve recently voted Labour.

      As I say, I’m not really into name-calling generally, and I always think I’d rather those people carried on voting Labour even with their Tory ideas in their heads. But it is a coherent way of looking at things.

  37. gary morgan says:

    Unfortunately SWP/Momentum types don’t go in for nuance and are at a loss in dealing with those who do not agree with them. Corbyn is a decent man but a hopeless leader is not something they will readily admit, neither are they keen to knowledge intimidation…any more than their Militant brethren did.
    I think your post has the navel-gazers’ predicament well sussed.
    And that’s about 3 terms the Tories will get now, enough to privatize the NHS etc..

    • Stu Bry says:

      What does leader mean?

      Cameron was apparently a leader but couldn’t control his own party and has to resign in shame with the country in crisis (although you wouldn’t know that today).

      Leadership to a large proportion electorate seems to mean expensive suits, being photogenic and having an attractive family to be photographed with.

      Leadership within cynical poltical circles seems to boil down to being acceptable to Rupert Murdoch.

      Is it so wrong that people are fighting for politics to focused on policy rather than the personal?

  38. Paul Cairns says:

    An awful lot of navel gazing is evident here. Please get real.

    Britain has become a de facto one-party state – thanks to the rise of the SNP. And, also because Labour has taken its core ex-mass-industry votes for granted, never much addressing those communities’ post-industrial struggles (nor has any other party, of course). This is happening across the Globe – the same factors have fuelled the rise of Trump & Sanders in the US and the likes of Marine Le Pen closer to home. The consequent sense of disaffection holds all political establishments (EU included) to blame. But, Corbyn, bereft of convincing remedies, is irrelevant, instead he speaks the language of 1960s conflict. Momentum, indistinguishable from Militant Tendency, likewise.

    If Labour slides off into becoming little more than a talking shop it will be abandoning its historic duty to serve the nation. A reincarnation of Tony Blair would produce credible policy alternatives to the Tories and sell them. That is the litmus test of the Leader – and that cannot be Corbyn. He has had a decent chance to show what he’s made of – and he has – and it’s NOT the right stuff.

  39. XopherO says:

    Corbyn has not been given a chance, partly because he has not had the support any new leader should expect, whether voted for or not, and partly because the media have been out to get him, which has been easy precisely because he has not had the support. (His 7.5 for the EU was honest – I would give it 5.5 because Merkel and Juncker are destroying it with extreme right policies- voting Brits saw what Merkel did to Greece, and its left government – while the IMF, unusually, wanted to bail it out with a bit of Keynesianism) Merkel must go.

    Yes, the Corbyn situation is a bit like Michael Foot, but let us not forget that he might have won the election in 83, because in 82 Thatcher was reviled until the Falklands war allowed her a comeback.

    In fact centre-right Labour leaders have a poor record in elections. Gaitskell (appalling man) lost two comprehensively. Callaghan lost one (Barbara Castle’s revenge perhaps as he had destroyed her career over In Place of Strife) Kinnock lost one (thank heavens). Brown lost one, Milliband (any left credentials soon dispersed by Blairites) lost one. None of these won an election. Blair won three, but with the Tories in complete disarray. 6 losses to three wins.

    Centre-left: Attlee won two and lost one (he did not really need to call, as Wilson later showed) Wilson won four lost one (he was in the lead in the polls but the Treasury released dubious balance of payments figures for May a couple of days before the election – a puny £20m deficit, but Wilson had stressed his success in turning the balance around, and the press seized on it. Figures for June showed a massive surplus. It looked like the Treasury had held back some export figures from May to June!) Foot lost one. 6 wins and 3 losses – the opposite of the centre-right. Wilson and Attlee were not great orators – Wilson did well on TV though, and I think Corbyn could do well if given the chance. He needs to realise that communication skills can be learned, as all good teachers and lecturers know. There is no shame in trying to do it better with help! His rivals are not better – Eagle has a whining tone of voice which is not attractive at all, and she carries too much bad baggage.

    Have folk forgotten that there are agents provocateurs always around? Bricks through windows – typical tactic? The police spies/provocateurs only came to light because they couldn’t keep their equipment in their trousers. And funny that the coup in Turkey was so massively unsuccessful. Now the army is being purged and Erdogan can clamp down even more on dissent with Western backing. Hmmm


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