In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick

SurrogacyTM

Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Short Cuts: Harry Goes Rogue

Jonathan Parry

Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close
Vol. 41 No. 23 · 5 December 2019
Diary

‘A test case for Corbynism’

Ben Walker

Derby City Council​ ’s offices sit on the River Derwent, a stone’s throw from the site of Lombe’s Mill, built in 1721, which claims to be the first fully mechanised factory in the world. In his Tour thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain, Daniel Defoe called it a ‘curiosity of a very extraordinary nature … the engine contains 26,586 wheels and 97,746 movements, which work 73,726 yards of silk-thread every time the water-wheel goes round, which is three times in one minute, and 318,504,960 yards in one day and night.’ The mill is currently encased on all sides by hoardings, the building wreathed in scaffolding. In 2020 it will reopen as the Museum of Making, a celebration of the city’s long manufacturing history, which began with the silk from Lombe’s Mill. Derby is currently the British base for Rolls-Royce, Toyota and Bombardier. The number of people working in manufacturing jobs in the city is twice the national average. Trident was a key issue for voters there in 2017: the submarines are designed, built and maintained by Rolls-Royce Marine Power Operations Ltd at a plant in Raynesway, south-east of the city centre. Today, there are fears that Rolls-Royce will move its operations after Britain leaves the EU. In December 2018, the company moved design approval for large aerospace engines to Berlin and there are plans to axe around three thousand of its 15,700 employees in the next two years.

Flooded railway line

The local council building has recently been refurbished: its main entrance is now set in a glass façade exposing three floors of corridors and (mostly empty) meeting rooms. Councillor Fareed Hussain came to fetch me from the new waiting room, a vast atrium turning on a central column – like a version of the Great Court at the British Museum in miniature. He seemed relaxed: a councillor for almost two decades, he has been through election campaigns under four different Labour leaders. But when I asked him how things were going in Derby North he looked a little nervous. In February this year, Chris Williamson, the Labour MP for Derby North, was suspended from the party over the comments he made about antisemitism at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield. He was readmitted on 26 June, and suspended again two days later. ‘It’s stopped people in their tracks,’ Hussain said. ‘We don’t know who the candidate is going to be.’ Our meeting took place on the day Labour’s National Executive Committee was deciding whether or not Williamson would be allowed to stand as the party candidate. At the 2017 election Williamson said success in the seat was a ‘test case for Corbynism’, and the party fought hard to take it back from the Tories, who had won it by 41 votes in 2015. In the event Labour won by more than two thousand votes. It’s the kind of seat they will need to hold on to in the forthcoming election, and since a Brexit Party candidate is standing, there is an opportunity to take advantage of a split in the Brexit vote.

When I arrived campaigning hadn’t yet started, though it was almost a week since the election had been called. Towards the end of my conversation with Hussain, another councillor, Martin Repton, came along. He told me the situation with Williamson’s candidacy was ‘a little localised problem, which should be resolved today’. An hour later the NEC ruled that Williamson would not after all be permitted to stand in Derby North. A few hours after that he announced his intention to run as an independent candidate.

A lot has been made of the number of MPs who aren’t going to fight this election: 73 MPs are stepping down, with combined parliamentary experience of more than a thousand years. Yet this number isn’t unusual; if anything it’s slightly on the low side. The average in the elections from 1979 to 2015 was 86; the post-1945 record was in 2010, when 149 MPs resigned. But this election is only two years after the last one, and most of the MPs announced their decision very recently. In the 2015 snap election only 31 MPs stood down; 73 is a bumper number in a parliament cut short. What do you do if your candidate retires or is deselected at the last minute? In some cases the new candidates have been found close to home. Charlie Elphicke had the Tory whip removed in 2017 over allegations of sexual assault; he was charged in July this year. He has been replaced by his wife, Natalie Elphicke, a lawyer who in 2015 received an OBE for services to housing. In Burton, Andrew Griffiths, who resigned as the Tories’ small business minister after being caught sending two thousand texts ‘of a sexual nature’ to two female constituents in the space of 21 days, has endorsed his estranged wife, Kate Griffiths. ‘I have not sought, nor do I accept Andrew’s offer of political support,’ she said.

These late-in-the-day retirements can create opportunities for party leaders to place loyal candidates. It seems the Tories have been especially successful in this. According to Boris Johnson, all the incoming candidates have sworn to support his Brexit deal, in line with his insistence that only a Conservative majority will break the deadlock in Parliament. All 21 Conservative MPs who had the whip removed in September have been replaced with such candidates. Still, the vetting isn’t infallible. In Broxtowe – one of three constituencies that sit between Derby and Nottingham – the Brexit Party candidate, Calvin Robinson, was instructed to stand down, along with every other Brexit Party candidate in seats won last time by the Tories. He duly endorsed his Conservative rival, Darren Henry, who had been selected as the constituency candidate following the defection of Anna Soubry earlier this year to join the Independent Group for Change. Local Brexiteer sleuths took a look at Henry’s social media accounts and discovered that he had campaigned for Remain in 2016. Despite a clip posted to Twitter of an interview between Henry and Robinson in which Henry asserted his desire to ‘get Brexit done’, local Brexiteers have encouraged an independent candidate to stand against him. This election has even managed to split the Brexit Party.

Greg Marshall, the Labour candidate in Broxtowe, hasn’t stopped campaigning for two years. Selected not long before the 2017 election, he cut the Conservative majority from 4287 to 863 and was chosen to stand again five months later. In his constituency office, which has the feel of a war room, complete with a large map covered in strategic pins and string, he was at pains to stress to me that he’s the only candidate actually from the area: ‘The easier thing for me to do would be to have taken a job in Manchester Central, turned up and said I’ve always loved it in Manchester.’ He came to meet me after picking up his daughter from school, the same one he attended himself as a child. ‘My dad worked all his life in Broxtowe, at a place called Plessey.’ He segues into a point about the local labour market. This, too, is manufacturing country. ‘Plessey was a factory in Beeston that made telecommunication parts and employed about nine thousand people in its heyday. It was a major, major firm that isn’t there anymore.’ We talked about HS2 – recent plans include a stop in Toton, a village in the south-west of the Broxtowe constituency. Marshall is in favour: ‘I’m not bothered about getting to London ten or 15 minutes quicker, but the East Midlands has suffered one of the worst manufacturing declines in the country in the last twenty years. I think HS2 brought an opportunity to kickstart something, kind of an economic superhighway between Derby and Nottingham, with Broxtowe in the middle.’

While we spoke, a steady flow of people, young and old, came in and out of the room on the way to and from door-knocking sessions. The local party has been running three a day, starting as soon as the election was announced. ‘Historically you may have placed more value on voter identification, so you wouldn’t spend huge amounts of time on the doorstep. But now, data you may have relied on for decades is completely out the window. You don’t know where the votes are going to come from. So we have to spend quite a bit of time talking to people.’

Social media, Marshall says, is ‘taking a bigger and bigger chunk of campaign funding’. The Broxtowe Labour Facebook page posts daily updates: I arrived in the town on #Electionday10. Labour was a full week of campaigning ahead of the other parties. I bumped into a middle-aged couple who had driven over from Leicestershire to campaign for Soubry, still the incumbent MP but now leader of the Independent Group for Change. They told me they were handing out her first batch of leaflets, and asked hopefully if I was a student and a Remainer. At Marshall’s campaign launch four hundred people crowded into Beeston Victory Club. A woman in her mid-fifties told me that this was a bigger audience than in 2017, which ‘must count for something’. During his speech, Marshall pointed out a young man who had flown over from New Zealand for six weeks to take part in the campaign. A student from nearby Loughborough University told me that he had been in Uxbridge the day before, campaigning to unseat Johnson. A call and response of ‘What do we have? People!’ was conducted by more than one speaker. I wondered if Broxtowe was now the ‘test case for Corbynism’. Since its creation in 1983 the constituency has been a bellwether, returning candidates from the winning party in every general election. Or perhaps the Labour campaigns in Broxtowe and Derby North should be seen as representing the two sides of a divided Labour Party, test cases for two different aspects of Corbynism. On the one hand, a campaign in full flow, harnessing the power of its support base and honing the campaign tools that brought success in 2017. On the other, infighting and uncertainty.

On the night of 7 November, the day after Williamson’s announcement and two days before the Broxtowe launch event, a month’s worth of rain fell in one night across parts of the country. In Derby the Derwent had risen almost to the top of the arch of Exeter Bridge. I passed a house whose front garden was completely submerged. A Vote Labour sign had unmoored itself and was floating beside a garden gnome in the narrow driveway. Margaret Beckett, the Labour MP for Derby South, was one of the twenty MPs who voted against the snap election. She was, she said, concerned that the weather would ‘play a big part’ in any winter election. I imagine her worry was that a cold and wet 12 December might keep some voters away from the polls, not that the city would be underwater. Tony Tinley was announced as the new Labour candidate for Derby North the day after the floods. He seemed a sensible enough choice: a Unite regional officer who started working for Rolls-Royce as an apprentice aged 17. A week after his selection, though, Williamson wrote to Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, that ‘Labour has selected a candidate who … doesn’t live in the constituency; and has no public profile locally … the only hope of keeping the Tories out … is for Labour’s candidate – who has no chance of winning – to stand aside.’ Williamson referred to himself as the only pro-Corbyn candidate in Derby North. I’m struggling to think of another occasion on which someone has run against a party but in support of its leader. But then, that’s the kind of election this is. ‘In an ideal world you wouldn’t be having an election just before Christmas,’ Martin Repton told me over the phone a few days after I left Derby. ‘In an ideal world you wouldn’t be fighting an election in which you decide on your candidate with just four weeks to go.’

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Letters

Vol. 42 No. 1 · 2 January 2020

Ben Walker’s diary brought back memories of many weeks campaigning for the Derby North Labour Party in elections in the 1970s, when our candidate was my Thames TV colleague Phillip Whitehead (LRB, 5 December 2019). Contests were invariably tight, so Phillip’s ‘personal vote’ (which we estimated at between two and three thousand) was often crucial.

In the recent election, Chris Williamson, who had been the Labour MP for Derby North until he was suspended from the party earlier in 2019, ran as an independent. He attracted just 635 of the 47,002 cast, which suggests that the ‘infighting and uncertainty’ in the constituency to which Walker refers made little difference to the result. Indeed, the swing from Labour to Conservative in Derby North (4.77 per cent) was very similar to that in nearby Broxtowe (4.58 per cent), where Walker saw a campaign ‘in full flow, harnessing the power of its support base and honing the campaign tools that brought success in 2017’. The candidate, Greg Marshall, had not ‘stopped campaigning for two years’.

As it turned out, Marshall mislaid nearly four thousand votes between 2017 and 2019, and the swing from Labour to Conservative might have been even larger if the former MP, Anna Soubry, a rebel Tory who was representing the Independent Group for Change, had not effectively doubled the 2017 Liberal Democrat vote (that party having withdrawn in her favour) by siphoning off some sympathetic Tories. As for turnout, Derby South perhaps fulfilled Margaret Beckett’s fears about the weather – just 58.1 per cent of the electorate voted there – but Derby North managed 64.2 per cent and Broxtowe a very large 74.8 per cent (not that Marshall seemed to benefit much from it).

Walker also mentions the late replacement of candidates by their relatives. Perhaps the best story (which, of course, may be apocryphal) was one that Phillip Whitehead enjoyed recounting. Leicester North West Labour Party was told by its long- standing MP Barnett Janner, just before the 1970 election, that he would not be their candidate this time. ‘But Barnett, we’ve already printed the “Vote Janner” posters.’ ‘Not to worry,’ the departing MP said: ‘Allow me to introduce my son, Greville.’

David Elstein
London SW15

send letters to

The Editor
London Review of Books
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address and a telephone number

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.