Saturday, 23 April 2016

If you really want to get the Tories out, don't undermine Jeremy Corbyn

I support Jeremy Corbyn. I am not “hard left”.

Previously, I supported Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown and then Ed Miliband. I was undecided as to whether to support Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham for the Labour leadership, until they both shocked me by abstaining on the Welfare Bill. My shock was partly because the contents of the bill were deeply objectionable and partly because I thought that the tactic of sticking-close-to-the-Tories, which lay behind the decision to abstain, was a recipe for electoral disaster.

So, I voted for Corbyn. I saw a man guided by decent political principles, who does not need to consult a focus group before giving his opinion. Given the fact that since then every powerful interest group in the country has tried to crush him, I think he has done well.

I am not hard left but I am “hard anti-Tory”. I was brought up to believe that those (like me) who are lucky enough to be doing well enough, should help those who are less fortunate. My mother told me as a child that the Tories would always put the interests of the rich above the interests of the rest of the country and that it was immoral to vote for them.

I do not think Corbyn is perfect. Nor did I think Blair was (although I was carried away like many in 1997), nor Brown, nor Miliband. However, politics in England and Wales usually requires a binary choice. Are we to have a Tory government or not? Like Blair, Brown and Miliband before him, Corbyn represents the best chance that the country has of getting rid of the Tories at the next General Election. There is no remotely likely scenario under which an alternative Labour leader could replace Corbyn and have a better chance to beat the Tories.

My hard anti-Tory attitude makes me deeply frustrated at the constant public undermining of Corbyn - often in the Tory press - by some Blairite MPs and others. This current Tory government is the most destructive and most right-wing of my lifetime; they are the clear beneficiaries of this behaviour. 

I use the word “Blairites”, adopting the shorthand used by the press. Actually, not so long ago, some of those now called Blairites were known as “Brownites”. For many years the Blairites and Brownites fiercely denounced each other in vicious  anonymous briefings to their respective contacts in the media. Now, they have discovered that the differences that once seemed of such importance, turn out to be not really so significant after all.

Despite the sound and fury of the Blairite assault on Corbyn, there is far more in terms of policy which unites Blairites with Corbyn than divides them from him. Some Blairites understand this very well. Charlie Falconer, Lucy Powell, Gloria De Piero, for example, are all serving effectively in prominent roles under Corbyn, fighting the Tories. 

Corbyn’s policies are not “extreme left” as described by the Tories and the media. They are essentially Miliband’s policies plus no Trident plus the courage of ones convictions. There are clearly significant differences over Trident and there were over Syria but the overwhelming majority of the parliamentary party are comfortable with Corbyn’s domestic agenda on the economy, on welfare, on tax, on schools, on health and so on. In policy terms, the Labour Party may be more united now than the Tory Party.

Despite this, some Blairites are constantly and publicly plotting to depose Corbyn. Imagine if, somehow, they managed to depose him. What then? The new leader would be elected by the same electorate who overwhelmingly voted for Corbyn only six months ago. Actually, the membership since Corbyn’s election is now far larger and, according to polls, even more pro-Corbyn that it was in September 2015. 

Some Blairites say that the MPs would make sure next time that Corbyn or an ally would be kept off the ballot paper to deny the membership the chance to vote for them. This is a highly dangerous idea. If MPs were so foolish as to conspire in this way, it would lead to incalculable damage to the party and quite possibly lead it to split.

But, say the Blairites, “Corbyn cannot win”.  They say it as if it is a proposition that cannot be gainsaid like 2 plus 2 equals 4. But the proposition is not self-evident. On the contrary, what is self-evident is the opposite. It is possible for Corbyn to win. 

Corbyn has a mountain to climb but that would have been the case for any leader who took over in 2010. Not least due to the electoral disaster that Labour suffered in Scotland (even his most implacable critics cannot blame him for that).

Corbyn faces an almost uniformly hostile media. It is not only the Tory press that refuse him a fair hearing but also left-leaning publications like the Guardian and the New Statesman. Meanwhile BBC flagship programmes like Today afford him “balance’ in the same way they afford it to UKIP, making it clear that his views are not mainstream - and therefore, to be treated with caution.

Historically, it may have been impossible to win an election in a democracy with such a hostile press. Hopefully, with the advent of new media, the power of the press-barons and the broadcast editors is weakening so that this small group can no longer define which policies are acceptable and who is electable. That would be a great leap forward for democracy.

Finally, Corbyn has one advantage that Cooper or Burnham would not have had. Hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic new members. I have met some of them. Not a swivel-eyed Trot amongst them. Just decent people who care about social justice and want to get involved in our democracy. It is sad how the Tories, the media and some Blairites often seem to hold these people in contempt. 

If you want to get rid of the Tories, support Corbyn or - at least - don’t undermine him.


  1. Fantastic blog I shall be following you no doubt , yes your right were not trots or loons or commies just the majority in the party totally fed up with this Tory government and the hardship they have heaped on the little man, just be aware Tories the worm is turning

  2. Given that 9.5m people voted Labour, and 17m didn't (which is, for these purposes, to ignore the no-shows) it will take more than a couple of hundred thousand enthusiastic £3-ers to get Corbyn into Number 10. Firstly, you need to turn Scotland completely around - away from the SNP and exclusively back to Labour. Without Scotland's seats, there would have been only two Labour governments since 1938. The arithmetic completely contradicts your optimism, Mr London, I'm afraid.

  3. I have been a Tory voter for most of my life.

    It used to be a choice between the nanny party that wanted to smother me in unwanted safety nets and spend, spend, spend - or the party that wanted to give people freedom and choices.

    I may not have liked some of Thatcher's policies, but at least I felt that they were based on values and beliefs that were not just sucking up to the electorate.

    Then it became the Blairite party that blew with the wind and bluffed about prudent finances vs. the party that wanted to give people freedom and choice.

    Next it was the blow with the wind and spend party who had been responsible for the "light touch" self-regulation of financial services that led to the banking crisis vs. the party who wanted to stop us bankrupting ourselves.

    It sounded good and people bought it - but it turned out that it was the weakest and poorest that bore the brunt of the cuts.

    So, it had become a choice between two parties who will say and do anything to get elected, an then do what they really wanted to do but never told us beforehand.

    Then comes Corbyn - a man who appears to have a conscience, who seems to be driven by values and beliefs rather than polls. But (a bit like John Major) someone who doesn't want to use bread and circuses / warnings of doom to get his way, and perhaps someone who has yet to find how to get his point across without compromising his principles.

    And finally, we have the current government, determined by stealth to privatise schools by calling them "academies", and the health service and County Council's through so called "devolution" which transfers power and ownership to unelected, undemocratic "local enterprise partnerships".

    This was not part of the Tory manifesto, and they have no mandate from the people to do this - which I suppose is why they disguise it using weasel words.

    And this weekend we find that the Tory Cabinet has fixed the local government funding so that their own constituencies are favoured and others are starved. Not to mention the Panama papers and the Tory support for abuse of the tax system by the rich.

    Every time I think that the Tories have hit moral rock bottom, they show me I am wrong, and keep sliding further into the filth.

    In last years Parliamentary elections I voted Independent (we have a GREAT local Independent candidate - and I cannot express how much I loath my Tory MP), though I would have otherwise voted Labour.

    I doubt I will be voting Tory again, either for Parliament or for local government.

    I believe that people vote for who they trust - trust comes from knowing what someone believes in and sticks to.

    I don't feel I can trust the Tories - they are imply too self-serving and morally corrupt. By contrast Corbyn is starting to look like someone trustworthy - even if you don't agree with some of his beliefs, at least he has some and is prepared to stick with them however unpopular they may be with others.

  4. This is excellent - it distils perfectly how I feel.
    Thank you.

  5. Dear Progress,
    In Progress I mean the Labour Party Members who despaired at Jeremy Corbyns election as leader or anybody not affilliated with Progress who holds the same opinions.
    Jeremy has inherited a shambles of a party who have been so consumed with the desire for office that they have tried to mimic tory policies at the flick of a Daily Mail headline.Ed Milliband was doomed as leader as soon as he was elected and everybody knew it.If you like power, swapping Blair for Brown was an act of self harm such as I have never seen.It is that stupidity of swapping (via a coronation) a man who could win for a man who could never which has kept us out of power and is now hurting 95% of the electorate.
    The cries of "unelectable" are in stark contrast to what voters are saying about Jeremy.Were Gordon or ED electable?,somebody must have thought so but now that somebody needs to realise that Blair had charisma,he was popular and well liked,criticism rolled off his teflon carcasse effortlessly.Gordon and Ed had none of these qualities.Cameron has them in spades,he learnt them sitting across from Blair at the despatch box.
    The advantages of Jeremy as leader from an "electability" point of view are positively legion,here are just a few,
    He is untainted by the ill thought out wars in Iraq Afghanistan and Libya.He was right to oppose them, he has with hindsight shown wisdom and millions agree with that position.
    Jeremy is likeable.Everyone said of Ed, and I am sure it is true that, "he was likeable when you got to know him",Jeremy comes across as likeable on the radio,on the TV,on facebook,on twitter or wherever he speaks to packed meetings.People are enamoured and encouraging towards him.Young Labour members have just given him rousing support.Women like him.I would not say he was exactly my cup of tea for leader but he can certainly have my support because of the "likeability" of the man.Without likeable there is no "electable" ever!
    His honesty.
    Open and transparent,genuine and sincere,no maliciousness or personal nastiness,he comes across as all of these things.Who else amongst us can portray this profile in todays politics ?People are crying out for honest fair politics and who better to give it to them than Jeremy Corbyn MP. Honesty is not just a commendable trait in politics it is a strength and an armour and ultimately a fearsome weapon.The press destroyed the odious farage. They just continually and relentlessly fucked him up and it worked.They did exactly the same with Ed and Gordon who became like the tabloids playthings.They could not lay a glove on jeremy during his election or afterwards.Seamus,or however you spell it, Milne is a very canny operator in the face of the press barrage they dont need to refute or rebutt,just watch the press embarass itself and membership push towards half a million.His honesty makes him unassailable.Without unassailable there is no "electable".
    I dont know if Jeremy can get into number 10 without the whole party behind him.There seems a big slice of the PLP determined to do him down and these would seem to be the same people who have lost two open goal elections and Scotland.The same people who backstabbed and arselicked their way into office and position and then backstabbed and arselicked their way out of it.How inept ? How stupid ? I ask this of these PLP members.Please abandon your own faulty judgment and give Jeremy your support however tacit or caveated.

  6. What a load of utter rubbish! As you clearly want to lose the next election 'on principle and with a conscience' go and vote Green.

  7. What you fail to address is that getting rid of Corbyn would *increase* the chances of Labour winning the next election. So, logically speaking, anyone who wants rid of the Tories should want rid of Corbyn too. That is, if getting rid of the Tories is all that matter, as you claim.

  8. Yes ...ask "real people" about the policies (don't say they are "old lefty Corbyn policies" as Ken Clarke would call them) and they respond overwhelmingly positively...the same "phenomenon" is currently on display in the USA of course with Bernie Corbyn ,not a "pie in the sky /"extremist", but ,as Noam Chomsky calls him ,an old-fashioned "new dealer"...a sensible range of Socialist Government interventions etc...and "Marxist" economics as advocated by Prof Richard D Wolff, and spelled out to an extent by John Mcdonnell are ,also ,obviously what we need.Don't call them,or characterise them in that way of course...A prime example are "worker owned collectives" that are the silicon valley small startup app' developers that make millions...they would obviously call themselves somthing like,"free-market entreprenuers" of course...but they embody the "means of production" ownership workers collective model,which is the next phase on from venture Capitalism that produces the 99% v the 1% that we have, (remember "Clause Four"? and it's eradication LOL)
    The media mantra of "unelectable" for Corbyn ,like the non-coverage of Bernie Sanders in the USA versus the Asshole In Chief "good for ratings" Trump well...i see it eroding ... Sanders could win the California primary...The Democrat Party are now almost in the same position as the Repubs are with Trump!...there least favoured "non-establishment" candidate is doing too well!
    Jeremy Corbyn may be easily ridiculed by the Bullingdon Club set as "Citizen Corbyn" and all that...but "put on a proper suit ..tuck yer shirt in ...and " hang on who's Cameron having a go at today Jeremy or Boris?... To the detracting "centre right" "Blairite" scenario,i suppose involves the promotion of Sadiq Kahn to leader,under the (left) wing of Jezza...but that's just my bit of "pie in the sky" thinking for now...