The Mancunion

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Jeremy Corbyn is driving Labour to oblivion

Five months on and the new politics are failing to make a real impact against the Conservatives and in the polls

By

Oh what a wondrous day September the 12th, 2015 seemed. A rebirth of the left! A victory for democracy! A new dawn for Britain’s long-dormant political opposition! In fact, the day after Jeremy Corbyn’s election to the Labour leadership, I (and many thousands of others) went and signed up to be a member of the Labour Party.

Six months later, and it’s like we’ve been living through one never-ending car crash. A car crash that has utterly discredited the left and seemingly extinguished all serious opposition to Tory rule in England.
It would be easy to blame all of this on an admittedly highly biased right wing press that had it out for him from day one (which it did). But really, the blame lies with Corbyn, who has shown himself to be one of the most hopelessly incompetent leaders of any political party in recent history. Which in retrospect, we all should have expected (indeed, many did), from a man who had never led anything larger than the Harringey Planning Committee. And I say this not as a Tory or a Blairite, but as someone firmly on the left, who despises austerity and still believes in many of the policies that Jeremy Corbyn advocates.

It started virtually on day one, with the Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. A commendable overall gender balance, but a deeply disappointing presence of women in the top roles. Were there simply not enough women who were competent to do these jobs? Well, John McDonnell is clearly so competent to be Shadow Chancellor that he signs petitions calling for the abolition of MI5, and then uses “I didn’t read it” as a defence. Yes, let’s trust him with being in charge of economic policy.

Next came the U-turn on the fiscal charter—George Osborne’s rule committing the government to running a budget surplus by 2018. Ignoring the advice of both left wing and right wing economists (and indeed, anyone with any education in economics whatsoever), Corbyn decided to support it—before ultimately seeing sense and dropping it, willingly jumping into a trap that succeeded in its desired goal of making the Labour leadership look like a bunch of clowns.

After this, there came a brief respite, with the victory over tax credits. We hoped this might be a turning point, and now Labour would get it’s act together.

It was not to last, for along came the Paris attacks. It doesn’t matter how much of a pacifist you are, no sane human being goes on television the day after a terrorist attack and says they aren’t prepared to use lethal force against terrorists. This totally moronic act has succeeded in convincing the entire British public—with good reason—that this man, and by association, the left as a whole, can’t be trusted with our security.

A few weeks later, there was the unmitigated disaster that was the free vote on Syria. Instead of granting the free vote everyone knew he would have to give, he dithered over it for weeks, going behind his colleagues’ backs and sowing mistrust and discord in his own ranks. He thus turned a story that should have been about the fate of millions of Syrians into a story about his own failure to lead.

The New Year was opened with another new crisis. Corbyn’s team spent weeks spreading rumours about a supposed upcoming ‘revenge reshuffle’ in which he would conduct a Maoist purge of Shadow Cabinet Opposition. He even began this reshuffle the same day as launching his campaign for a renationalised railway, thus utterly eclipsing what should have been a very popular policy announcement. Oh, and then he completely bottled the reshuffle. Fantastic.

Not long after, Corbyn decided he wanted to impose a power-sharing agreement on the Falkland Islands with Argentina. What better way to draw attention to all the harm being done by the Tory government than to distract everyone with a ridiculous foreign policy announcement that no one in this country even agrees with. It’s insulting to everyone who died in the Falklands War. What’s more, it’s a reflection of his overarching worldview—one that is sadly echoed in many other left-wing parties and organisations—which can be summed up as ‘it’s nobody’s fault but ours’. It’s what leads him to naively suggest that we can ‘negotiate’ with ISIS, or that Putin would be kinder to us if we simply held more dialogue with him. Again, this was another thing we should have expected from his history. We were, to our shame, willing to forgive and perhaps even overlook some of his past associations (such as referring to Hamas as his ‘friends’) when we gave him our support for the leadership. Although in fairness, they were no worse than the ones David Cameron makes on a daily basis—like when he bowed down to homosexual-executing Saudi royals, or dined out with the leaders of the arms trade and Rupert Murdoch.

However, perhaps his greatest personal shortcoming is exposed in the weekly public humiliation that is Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). Or as it’s now better known, ‘Everyone Rips Labour Leader For 30 Minutes’. Reading out messages from the public was a nice idea at first, but after a while, you start to feel that he’s deferring his own responsibility to ask questions and confront the Prime Minister, for Corbyn is actually totally averse to dealing with confrontation. It’s one of the reasons tensions within his party go unresolved for so long. This is a fatal characteristic for anyone hoping to lead anything.

Oh, and there have now been two PMQs that coincided with the Junior Doctors’ strikes. And he couldn’t bring himself to bring it up at either one. A total betrayal.

The polling is dire. Really dire. There are elections in May. If Labour fail to make any gains or even stay in the same place, it means they have done worse than Ed Miliband—a man who lost. Badly. Given that the Tories are imploding over Europe, and voters are meant to be repelled by divided parties, any result for Labour other than overwhelming success will essentially be a total failure.

If Corbyn is even half the decent and principled man that I still believe he is deep down, he will not attempt to use Sadiq Khan’s victory in London as a defence, and will (presumably after the referendum) accept that he has failed and step down. If he isn’t, then we best hope that his MPs are brave enough to depose him and that the new members aren’t stupid enough to defend him.

Time is short. Labour, the left, the centre, the voters, the millions of people suffering at the hands of a vicious Tory Government—England deserve better than this. They deserve a real Opposition, one that stands a chance of one day replacing the current government. Corbyn is not remotely up to the job of leading this, and everyone in Labour (including him) needs to wake up to this fact soon and do something about it. If we don’t, we are in effect surrendering the country to the Tories for years to come.

And yes, in case you can’t tell, I’m very disillusioned.

  • Colin Everest

    You are missing the point here. I would rather NOT be in power than compromise my principles. The reason I hate the legacy of Tony Blair is that in 1997 I had the sun roof of the car down, Oasis on full volume and I genuinely believed that the days of Tory rule were over. Full employment beckoned and a miander towards a socialist Britain was on it’s way. Three months later a few thousand people turned up in Trafalgar square and he abandoned proposed legislation on fox hunting. Bloody hell – if he couldn’t stand the pressure on fox hunting what hope did we have for the economy – answer None – He cosied upto the banks and led us into a financial crisis.

    Keep standing up for what you believe in Jeremy – eventually when we have starvation in the streets and the best nuclear arsenal in Europe – people might realise that you are correct

    • Robert Beckingham

      Banning fox hunting is just about the only thing the Blair/Brown government managed to do and only because they wanted to fight Class War. Does anyone give a damn about foxes, they are vermin and need to be controlled.

    • Phil Almond

      If you want to support a protest group – then go join the Socialist Workers Party or some other similar grouping. Labour need to be a party of Government & therefore have to be in tune with the electorate at large. Corbyn is trying his best but he will never appeal to the majority of middle England – rather depressing for anyone of the centre left who are facing a decade of Tory rule.

      • davrow

        Only a decade!

      • Rogue

        Way to get people to vote Labour, mate: “If you don’t like it, fuck off.”

    • Edward Bains

      If you are a political party, the entire point of your existence is to win elections, so that you can act on your policies. Obsessing over ideological purity is a selfish endeavour that will only harm the people you’re meant to be helping (i.e. ordinary people suffering under the Tories).
      Nevertheless, the main point of my argument was not that Corbyn needed to compromise on his principles (I support many of them), merely that his principles mean absolutely nothing if he can’t be a competent leader. I make an exception for his attitude to security, where his principles pretty much disqualify him from office.

    • Natacha114

      Your position is actually profoundly unprincipled. IN effect you are supporting Tory government and hanging out the poor, the powerless, the disabled (as we have seen recently) out to dry. They cannot afford your “principles”. We have a moral duty to get rid of this Tory government, in effect you are no better than a Tory for taking that point of view; i.e. totally unprincipled.

  • deckhanddave

    Me too! :-( With no real opposition we are facing a bleak future of regression to the dark ages at best or Anarchy at worst. Corbyn wants to legalise or legitimise prostitution(Maybe that explains his lack of women in top jobs?). Make hay with his buddies in Hamas whilst having tea and tiffin with IS,ISIS or whatever they think they should be called at the moment. Oh and lets not forget sending out Nuclear Subs with no missiles because he wants rid of Trident and wouldn’t use them at any cost anyway! I am sorry to say that I would rather vote for a tree hugger shouting out Peace not war than him. Oh hang on, it kind of sounds like him actually. God help us because there is no one else we can turn to now.

  • WeRNotMugs

    Very comprehensive and well argued points for suggesting Corbyn needs to go. Big problem is the MP’s including deputy Tom Watson can’t be bothered! Only interested in keeping careers even though if Corbyn is still leader in 2020 they won’t have careers!

  • Workshed

    Ed Bains – you’re in the wrong party, and always were. The Labour Party is in fine fettle DESPITE snipers like yourself.

    • Edward Bains

      If you’d bothered to read the article you’d have noticed in the very first paragraph I made it clear I wasn’t always in the Labour Party. But anyway, you’ve managed to perfectly exemplify the stereotypical die-hard ignore-all-the-evidence Corbynista, so thanks for that.

      • Gary Bigham

        Very well written Edward Bains and I believe you have given a well balanced and sound critique. One of my real concerns is that Jeremy Corbyn has appointed hard communists as his top advisors. I seriously wonder that he is a communist himself and seeking to use the Labour Party to progress his communist ideology as I am sure he will be more at home in something like the Socialist Workers Party. He has certainly shown no credibility as a leader of the Labour Party.

    • A Labour voter

      And this sort of random internet warrior outrage of righteousness rant is exactly the sort of thing that is driving people increasingly away from the Labour party. (Yes, I know a lot of people are joining too because of Corbyn, but also, you are losing people). Corbyn supporters need to rid themselves of this faux outrage, otherwise the Labour party will just become an unelectable echo chamber of its own views. In other words, quit the personal attacks, engage with the debate and grow up. Act like an adult, not a 13 year old in Facebook.

  • peterrobin

    Sad that this principled buffoon makes me (almost) regret the departure of the bacon sandwich mqn

  • Daniel Davies

    I think it’s just great to see there’s still a place in politics for beards

  • student

    Well written Ed. I voted Labour in the last election, but I certainly wont be voting Labour again if Jeremy Corbyn is in charge. He is not fit to lead this country. He’s great as a backbencher, and far more suited to protest and activism. However, he is not a leader, and some of his views are quite frankly, extreme. We don’t need extremism, the Tory’s aren’t a tyrannical government to be overthrown. We need slow but steady progression in the centre of the political sphere, and a calm but reasoned argument as to why Labour should be in power. Corbyn doesn’t offer that. Many of my friends who used to vote Labour are now turning to the Lib Dems, and I know a few Corbyn voters of September 2015 regretting their decision.

  • What a silly article.

    • Sue Jones

      It certainly didn’t age well

  • Maria Carroll

    Sadly the author, having admitted the press is biased to the right, has repeated all the press claims in this article without doing his own research. For example, Corbyn didn’t say anything about power sharing with Argentina, the argentine ambassador said he did. The press decried Corbyn forcing him to respond on live TV too, where he states the need to talk to resolve issues eg specialist hospital care. For the islanders, available faster n Argentina compared with a flight back to the UK. Days later the Tories announce they are in talks with Argentina, but that’s ok is it?
    Time that e authors looked for facts and truth instead of looking to twist issues for their own political viewpoint.
    Fact Corbyn isn’t standing down, if there is an underhand attempt at a coup Corbyn will be reelected with a bigger majority. The more dissenters brief against him, the more the membership increases and his support grows. Not a very good strategy this divide and rule, is it? Far more successful would be to name & shame the Tories and their excesses.

    • Edward Bains

      The Argentine ambassador said he did, and Corbyn made no attempt to deny this. He then went on to call for an ‘accommodation’ with Argentina in an interview on the Andrew Marr show (whatever that means). Previous statements made by him throughout his career have made pretty clear his position on the issue.
      Please, enlighten me with more ways in which I have twisted issues, and I will be happy to respond.

  • J

    And you wonder why practically every big wig (except Cameron because he is standing down) in the tory party wants to leave the EU? They see a decade or two of totally unfettered, unopposed rule if they do.

  • Gary Hills

    Very well written and agree with your conclusion. Labour is more then one mans inability to lead and put forward a direction the wider public will support. It’s function is to win elections to ensure that the Conservatives do not get a free run and while in opposition ensure their is accountability.

    The sooner Corbyn goes the sooner Labour stands a chance of winning against the Tories and ending the suffering they are inflicting.

  • Ed O’Meara
    • Edward Bains

      If you read the very article you’ve just published you’ll see the publishers of this poll actually raise serious doubts about its accuracy – including that they had not adjusted the methodology in the wake of the polling disaster at the last general election.
      They’ve also rounded the percentages in this article (in actual fact the Conservatives are slightly ahead).
      Nevertheless, even if it’s accurate, it doesn’t mean much. Given the circumstances, Labour should be miles ahead, not failing to break even. The NHS is in a state of slow-motion collapse. The Tories are descending into a civil war over Europe. The last time they did so Tony Blair won Labour’s largest majority ever. And if the Tories regain stability after the referendum then this measly showing will revert to what it was before.

      • Ed O’Meara

        Speculative at best. There’s absolutely nothing to say that Labour under any of the other candidates would be in a better position. Labour’s issue comes from the PLP not supporting their leader. They’d rather sabotage the choice of their membership than create an effective election-winning party.

        • Edward Bains

          You’re being hopelessly naive, and doing what all Corbyn supporters seem to do, which is to totally ignore all his giant self-inflicted screw-ups and blame it on his MPs (or the press or whatever other excuse you want).
          Not saying anything vote-losing? Are you joking? His comments on shoot-to-kill and Jihadi John may have ruined Labour’s reputation on security with voters for years. His associations with Hamas and various anti-semites are also likely to be a huge turnoff. And not one of these disasters would have happened with any of the other candidates as leader, as none of them held these ridiculous positions. I doubt we would have had various other problems too such as the Syrian free vote, the Falklands issue, the reshuffle, the ongoing argument over Trident, the continued role of Ken Livingstone, the whole existence of Momentum etc, with one of the others. Burnham, Kendall and Cooper may not have been particularly inspiring, but they were certainly capable politicians. And they would absolutely certainly have handled PMQs better and not used this pathetic public mailbag tactic.

  • Tony Le Bourne

    This article seems quite misinformed and well, bad… This almost feels like the work of Tory propaganda XD

  • Ace89

    If only it were that simple. Jeremy resigns. It will be all fine.
    Conveniently ignoring that Labour lost 2015 without him at the helm. And all the disillusioned voters that voted Lib Dem in 2005 and 2010, then Green in 2015. They’re not likely to stay if Jeremy is ousted in that manner. They’ll jump to someone else. They like Jeremy and dislike the PLP.
    You have to look at WHY Jeremy was elected. It was because members had had enough of the PLP. The other candidates were dull and uninspiring and it hasn’t gotten much better now.
    So no. Not a good idea.

    • Edward Bains

      You’re confusing the ‘voters’ with the Labour Party membership, which pretty much sums up the problem here.

  • David Quinn

    I think Jeremy Corbyn is doing a great job. The article seems to be written from a POV that accepts the old way of politics where clever jousting at the despatch box is more important than simple truths. It does show that the greatest danger to the Labour party comes from within. The PLP needs to realise that the membership are sick to death of sailing close to the Tories to get the middle class vote. It didn’t worke long term because we conceded political ground and followed the Neo Liberal agenda that anyone with any sense can see is designed to steal public assets which generations of the working class have created.

    The idea that returning to a Blairite style leader like soldier Dan is to be honest so naive to be laughable. If the PLP decide to support such a move then widespread de-selection needs to be considered more seriously.

    The author states “If you are a political party, the entire point of your existence is to win elections”. As Tony Benn said Signpost or Weathervane which should we be?