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The Truth about Jeremy Corbyn

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Alex AndreouLondon, UK
The Truth about Jeremy Corbyn
We haven't been telling the truth for a long time in the Labour party. It is essential that we start.

"Wow, when you turn, you really turn", a friend said to me the other day. 

It's true. I have been as vociferous in my opposition to Corbyn as I was in supporting him a year ago. Provocative, even.

This is partly out of profound hurt. I feel let down by him. Duped. Because it is inconceivable to me how someone so utterly ill-equipped to do such an important job, could have put himself forward for doing it. How a committed leftist could think it a good idea to chain himself to the left-most major political party in the UK and jump in the ocean, knowing he can't swim.

It is also, however, partly out of bitterness; the bitterness of an honourable person accused of dishonourable motives. To have gone within a year from being abused as a "trostkyist entryist" to "media shill" and "closet tory warmonger" vexes one in a very particular way. 

Most wounding of all, former admirers of my work responding to my criticism of Corbyn with "I am so disappointed in you"; as if I entered some sort of Socialist Crufts and the judges found my pedigree lacking and my coat a little dull. 

Once you have seen the Emperor is butt-naked, it is impossible to reimagine him wearing even a thong. 

It isn't the first time recently, either. I experienced a similar phenomenon around the Greek elections last year. First castigated as an extremist for supporting Tsipras, then as an establishment lackey for continuing to support him when he had to acquiesce to EU demands. 

The common thread in both cases is the preponderance of a certain type of Armchair Che, for whom The Revolution is simply not happening fast or well enough. Such a person, almost invariably, speaks far enough from the edge of the economic cliff, that they would have time to order a big Ocado and hide in their Islington attic, were such a Revolution to actually occur. 

So, yes, I have gone over the top with my criticism, but rhetorical flourish aside, I stand by every acid word. Once you have seen the Emperor is butt-naked, it is impossible to reimagine him wearing even a thong. 

Four admissions

Let me get a few things out of the way, for a start, in order to save you some potentially angry typing.

CORBYN HAS BEEN TREATED UNFAIRLY - Yes, Corbyn has been hugely misrepresented by most media. Yes, the right wing press has been responsible for the worst kind of monstering. Yes, managing the PLP has been like herding cats. Yes, the lack of loyalty shown by a small cabal of colleagues, briefing against him from day one, is vile. Yes, he was never properly supported or given a decent chance. Yes, it is all very unfair. But, yes, that is the job he signed up for. 

BOTH 'SIDES' ARE SELECTIVELY DISCONNECTED - The Corbyn side has been very successful in donning the mantle of "mandate" against MPs which, it claims, are disconnected from the wishes of the Labour membership. But politicians must juggle a great many, complex and, often, competing mandates.

The mandate of the membership, for instance, with regard to renewing Trident, voted for and mandated at Conference as recently as September 2015, is conveniently ignored by a leader who disagrees with it. The PLP, on the other hand, voting largely with the Conference position, are labelled "arrogant". "This is a stance based not on understanding others, but on bullying them", chirps the increasingly shrill Canary.

I would posit the reverse: I am personally against Trident, but a majority both in the country and in the Labour party are for it. The bullying position is to ignore that and to wilfully misunderstand the arguments for multilateral, rather than unilateral, disarmament and label everyone who disagrees a "death-monger", rather than try to convince them. In last night's hustings, Owen Smith was actually booed for bringing up the fact Nye Bevan was a multilateralist. 

It is so unfathomably politically illiterate to hiss and boo at multilateralism, when it is both official Labour Party position and hugely popular with voters. 

There is also the not-insignificant matter of the MPs mandate - nine million people voted for them and in a representative capacity: to apply their judgment to best advance their constituents' interests. Recent polls reveal Corbyn to be extremely unpopular as a leader - including 29% of Labour voters preferring May over Corbyn as PM. Meanwhile, his popularity soars among the membership

The Labour Party is experiencing, therefore, a much more complex fracturing of its mandate than the Corbyn camp would admit to. It is not so much the PLP versus the membership – a convenient narrative that plays to the peanut gallery – but the membership and leader versus the PLP and general voting public. This particular fight can only have one possible outcome at any General Election. The general voting public always has the final word. 

As Clay Shirky noted recently in a US context, winning is about headcount and elections can be a harsh corrective to thinking everyone agrees with you. After the last General Election and the Brexit vote, how many more electoral "I didn't see that coming" shocks must we experience before we finally understand that our twittersphere echo-chamber is representative of nothing? 

LABOUR'S PROBLEMS ARE HUGE, CORBYN ASIDE - Labour are probably shafted - at best, for a decade and, at worst, permanently. This is because they are currently the only truly UK-wide party. In order to ever win an election again, they would have to regain seats in Scotland from the SNP, from the Tories in the South of England, as well as defend seats against Plaid Cymru in Wales, UKIP in the North and the Liberal Democrats in urban areas.

Those electorates are so diverse and so easy to target by a party concentrating on only one or a few, they are almost impossible to reconcile. How does one even begin to formulate a policy on immigration that does not alienate the cosmopolitan London leftie while reengaging with enough working class white men in the North? How does one articulate an economic policy that is radical enough for Glasgow and moderate enough for Stevenage? 

OWEN SMITH IS A BIT BLAH - There is no disguising the fact Owen Smith ain't exactly Obama, when it comes to inspirational qualities. It is disappointing and a sign of the real lack of strength-in-depth in the Labour party that nobody more substantial has thrown their hat in the ring. When a gladiatorial contest for the soul of the party comes down to Corbyn vs Smith, you know you're in doo-doo.

Not that I don't completely understand the reticense of others to step forward, seeing the onslaught directed at anyone who stuck their head above their parapet. The campaign of smearing and negative vetting has been truly bizarre: “she voted for X once”; “he used to work for a big company”; “she once abstained from something”; “he said something in an interview ten years ago”. 

One cannot condemn tabloids for reductivism, then employ it in its basest form

Even potential candidates are trashed preemptively. “How about Keir Starmer?”, I suggested to someone. “He was DPP when they prosecuted the Twitter joke trial”, came the response. “Deal breaker.” And so, the same people willing to overlook Jeremy Corbyn's many, many past foibles – his views on IRA violence, his backing of homeopathy, his working for Iranian state TV – just as I did when I voted for him, operate a weird one-offence sin-bin when it comes to anyone else. 

It is as if, having resigned to never actually winning again, we have decided to make sport of punching ourselves in the face repeatedly, cheering loudly while we do it; a sort of Idiots' Fight Club. Discredit all our own MPs. Yeah. Smart. 

When I turn, I really turn

In the interests of openness, let me explain my conversion from supporting to opposing Corbyn: I voted for him in the first place, because I liked his politics and I thought all four candidates last time were unelectable. So I thought: "Fuck it. If none of them can reach out to the wider electorate, I might as well vote for the one whose politics most closely align with mine." Anecdotally, I have found that my thinking in this was far from unique.

I found him disappointing throughout his first few months, quite aside from his difficulties with the media or sections of the PLP, but continued to support him as a reaction to those difficulties. I admonished his detractors in the strongest terms. Whatever one thought of his performance, to be briefing against him from day one, was hugely disrespectful to the people who voted for him. (I think this is the mode many of his supporters are still stuck in, incidentally: to criticise him feels like somehow condoning the bad behaviour to which he has been subjected.)

Even through the unfiltered, unfettered process of Prime Minister's Questions, there was a creeping realisation that Corbyn was not growing into the role: his adherence to a completely ineffective six-questions-six-subjects format, the increasingly ridiculous “I received this email from Janet” device, his lack of sense of occasion, the flashes of a thoroughly unattractive teacherish sort of anger when things did not go his way. He seemed to believe he could change politics simply by sneering at it. 

The mouth muscles knew what to do, but nothing else was employed with any conviction. 

Things really started to turn during the EU referendum campaign. Whatever you think on the issue or the result, there was a strange disconnect there; an active avoidance. Corbyn refused to share a platform, turned down interviews and debates, campaigned half-heartedly, obsessed about obscure directives nobody gave a fig for, and even went on holiday during the short campaign. The combined effect reminded me of when spindoctors told Gordon Brown that he needed to smile more. The mouth muscles knew what to do, but nothing else was employed with any conviction. 

On the 10th of June, I tweeted that I was disheartened by “his anonymity, lack of passion and refusal to engage meaningfully”. I got my first burst of aggressive pro-Corbyn responses in return and this began to worry me. I genuinely could not think how such a statement was even controversial. 

The result of the referendum turned my disappointment into anger and when Jeremy Corbyn, on the morning after, stood on the Westminster green and announced that “we must respect that result and Article 50 has to be invoked now” my anger turned to hostility.

Part of the venom with which I have been targetted recently is, I suspect, because I am difficult for Corbyn fans to explain away. I'm not some middle-class, Blairite fair-weather socialist, with a portfolio of shares. I live hand-to-mouth, was homeless recently, have been consistently on the left of the debate and supported Corbyn vocally the first time he was elected.

Who got to you, Alex?” asked one outraged pundit. Nobody “got to me”. We all have our red lines. Europe was mine. There is no hidden agenda and no conspiracy. It was simply the realisation that a politician, to whom the only advantage I could see was his honesty, was in fact revealed to be thoroughly dishonest on this most vital issue. Trust was broken and that was that.

Suddenly, I'm Tippi Hedren

There is that scene in Hitchcock's The Birds: Tippi Hedren's character is sitting on a bench in front of a playground waiting for school to finish. A single crow flies on to the climbing frame behind her. The camera zooms in, she lights a cigarette, takes a few puffs. We hear the flurry of wings. The shot opens out again and behind her is revealed a shiny blue-black made of a thousand crows. 

And so it happened to me. Suddenly I was on the other side of the street and I could see a wide shot of the crowd with which I had stood until then. I did not like what I saw. And they did not like what I had to say about it. Pretty soon the pecking frenzy started, in their hundreds. 

Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock's "The Birds"

There was a pattern to it. Like someone called Kevin in a call centre somewhere, reading from a script designed to sell me double glazing, impervious to any variation on my part of the conversation or any inconvenient facts. “I'm sorry Kevin, but I'm just out of the shower”; “No, I'm quite happy with the windows I have, thank you, Kevin”; “Kevin, listen to me, you're wasting my time and yours.” Until eventually you hang up.

Only the script in this case was strangely familiar. Facts dismissed as conspiracy. Experts vilified as establishment. Quotes half-invented for inflammatory memes. Sexism, misogyny, anti-intellectualism, homophobia, antisemitism, violent language, abuse – all of it clear to anyone at the receiving end, all of it denied by anyone on the side generating it.

The truth, however, dear comrades, is that you cannot claim hashtag collectivism one minute, you cannot gloat about how you act together as one unstoppable unit, then disown the clear patterns of wickedness among your ranks, shrug your shoulders and simply say “nowt to do with me”. If #YouAreHisMedia, then you need to own your shit and sort it out. 

The far right is obsessed with purging the country from anyone who looks different. The far left obsessed with purging it from anyone who thinks different.   

Jeremy doesn't condone it.” “He can't control what every idiot says.” “I don't do that. How dare you tar me with the same brush.” “It's probably an MI5 conspiracy to smear Corbyn.” “One rotten apple.” “There are nasty people on all sides.” It is the Ukip phrasebook, terrifyingly adapted for the left. 

The far right is obsessed with purging the country from anyone who looks different. The far left obsessed with purging it from anyone who thinks different. They are two sides of the same philosophy who sees progress only in homogeneity and threat in mixing, in "impurity", in dissent, in challenging the orthodoxy. 

Strangely, it is also a form of blairism. Because blairism was not about just policies. Its dark side, the side everyone hated, the side which corroded the party, was about blind faith in one man who was convinced he was right, held all the answers and had to subjugate a party too stupid to know what was good for it. Blairism wasn't just about PFIs or Iraq – it was about the methodical purging the party of dissent; it was about bullying and lying. In those respects, Corbynism is its comically ineffectual cousin. 

Not just denial, but denialism

At the core of Corbynism is denialism. Not denial. That would be just a refusal to accept a fact or set of facts. Denialism is the more methodical and strategic altering of anything inconvenient about the reality which surrounds us. A refusal to see anything, unless through a particular prism. 

"Under Corbyn Labour have won by-elections with increased majorities, won the London and Bristol mayoral elections, outperformed the Tories at the May council elections and forced the Tories into a number of u-turns on things such as: Tax credits, disability cuts, the fiscal target" BLAH BLAH BLAH. It is a familiar enough refrain.

But those by-elections were in safe Labour seats. The London mayoral election had to actively distance itself from Corbyn. Outperforming the government in your first year as opposition leader, by losing marginally fewer councils than they did, is a terrible sign by any metric. And what about Labour finishing third in the Scottish election? 

Reversals to tax credits were primarily down to Tory backbench unrest and disability cuts down to a superb defence by the Labour Lords team – most of them Blairites – both on a shadow brief led by none other that the much-reviled Owen Smith. The fiscal target u-turn was abandoned by Osborne the day after Theresa May, the then frontrunner for PM, said she didn't support it.

Labour's dreadful performance in the polls is put exclusively down to the PLP “coup”. Even though Labour was declining long before it, hitting its peak (and never actually ahead on average) in April. Corbyn himself encourages this myth. “We were ahead in the polls in May”, he said in yesterday's hustings – an outright lie.

Not only is this disconnect between reality and fantasy encouraged, it is institutionalised. Leftists are urged to join and defend Corbyn by fringe parties. Momentum stage a chain of takeovers, across CLPs up and down the country. The NEC election is fought in terms of pro- and anti- Corbyn. Mass deselections of dissenting MPs are now a near certainty. 

There is an active campaign, in short, to pack the party, at every level, with people who open rather than close the distance between Labour and the wider electorate; an active campaign to compound the problem. 

As Martin Robbins so astutely observed, “to these people Labour – real Labour – doesn't have 232 seats, it has about 40. The others seats are occupied by “Red Tories” or, worse, “Blairites”... The only long-term strategy that makes sense is to “purify” Labour, and rebuild from the foundations up. That may mean another 10 or 20 years of Tory rule, but the achingly middle class Corbynistas, won’t be the ones to suffer from that.” 

I always thought that socialism could combine with liberal values. But what if it can't? 

And I think this is what hurts me the most. That I believed, genuinely believed, that us “proper” progressives were better than the others – both to the right in our party and to the right of our party. That Corbyn would genuinely be open, build bridges, find consensus, rather than become authoritarian the moment he tasted a little bit of power and go on an enemy purge. What a fool I was. 

I always thought that socialism could combine with liberal values. But what if it can't? What if there is something so inherently didactic in any movement that believes in its moral superiority, it is structurally doomed to authoritarianism? I voted for Corbyn, because I wanted my idea of Labour to be allowed to coexist and to converse alongside others' idea of Labour; not at its expense or instead of it. 

The far left has failed to understand that it needs the centre-left as a bridge. That people don't travel straight from a mixed, practical, central position to perfect socialism. Just as the centre-left before it, failed to understand that it needs the proper left to keep it honest and act as its conscience of ideals. 

When prominent commentators tweet an opinion poll, which puts Labour behind the Tories, but crop the image to show Labour ahead on the unweighted figures and ignore the pollster telling them this is misleading, we know we are in trouble. We have reached Peak Denialism. 

Being honest, like a family 

People who try to change things are invariably surrounded by such hostility it is human to see all dissent or criticism as aggression. It is impossible to convince someone the whole world is not out to get them, when - in fact - it is. The key is being self-critical enough to distinguish which of the faults being pointed out are real and which are invented. This applies to the any political party, including Labour.

Being honest with ourselves and each other is an absolute prerequisite to being effective as a force for change. We have to behave like a family - defend each other to the hilt when it comes to the outside world, but be able to be completely open with each other. The sort of openness that only comes when you know there is mutual love and respect. Such love and respect have been in very short supply of late.

Being honest involves more than simply not lying. Being honest means telling the truth. All of it. And we haven't been telling the truth for a long time in the Labour party.

We weren't telling the truth when we eroded our base during the Blair years, when we told ourselves that Scotland was a given, when we reassured ourselves that we could mix-and-match neoliberalism with socialism. We weren't telling the truth when Brown decided to out-Tory the Tories with tax cuts, during an economically healthy period. We should have been using that money to close the gulf of inequality opening up in the UK. We should have been using that period of prosperity to rebalance the economy away from financial services. 

We didn't speak up. Not enough of us. Not loudly enough. Not for long enough. 

And that dishonesty continued after the crisis and the electoral defeat of 2010. We weren't telling the truth when we acquiesced to being stuck with Miliband and decided to make the best of it. We weren't telling the truth when we explained away poor result after poor result and terrible poll after terrible poll. We weren't telling the truth when we laid all blame at the doorstep of a hostile press or when we blamed voters for being stupid.

The huge damage Cameron caused in his first five years as Prime Minister is as nothing compared to the lasting damage he has caused in the year since May 2015. It will continue to be felt for a generation, as the UK blunders its way out of the world's most powerful economic bloc and into isolation and xenophobia, destabilising the whole continent and the integrity of its own union in the process, condemning itself to another decade of austerity, and lurching towards the paranoid far right.

We must take our share of responsibility for that. Maybe we could have stopped it. But we were simply too busy with tweeting and hoping to bother with reality. Plenty of us knew that Ed Miliband was simply unelectable, from the moment he was installed at the head of the party by the same union leaders now defending Corbyn. We didn't speak up. Not enough of us. Not loudly enough. Not for long enough. 

The truth about Jeremy Corbyn

And we're doing the same thing again, with Corbyn. I can't be part of it. I refuse to repeat that mistake. I may end up making all new mistakes, but I will at least give myself a chance to learn. I will either be part of an honest political force, that understands its objectives and how to realise them, or not part of it at all. I have no interest in feeling superior while sipping Chardonnay, no interest in fiddling while Rome burns. 

I still admire Corbyn's politics on the whole, although I never invested him with the ludicrously messianic qualities I see so many project onto him. But there is a problem. And it is insurmountable. Jeremy Corbyn is not very good. Actually, he is quite hopeless.

I don't need to rehash tales of his incompetence. If you are interested and your mind is open, read the accounts of Thangam Debbonaire MP or Lilian Greenwood MP. Read Owen Jones' piece, probably Corbyn's key mainstream media ally. Read Richard Murphy's blog, part of the "Corbynomics" team. Read why the rest of that team now support Owen Smith. Read the piece Jo Cox wrote on why she regretted nominating Corbyn, weeks before she was brutally killed.

I have chosen the above accounts for a reason. All of them represent what would be called - to borrow a tennis term - unforced errors. The people telling these stories are not Tory plants or closet right-wingers. They cannot be explained away with conspiracies. 

They, just like me, have no agenda against Jeremy Corbyn's politics. They embraced him and gave him a chance. The catalogue of incompetence they expose would be comical, if it weren't so damn tragic. He is just not the person who can deliver radical policies. Radical policies require a doubly effective messenger. 

Against Cameron, Corbyn looked like someone struggling to whip his MPs. Against May, he looks like someone who'd struggle to whip a meringue.  

"Competence is a bourgeois construct", said one supporter to me. No, it isn't. It is a very plain concept: being able to do something. It is as plain as incompetence. "I am tired by the media's definition of electability", says another. Wait. You may disagree with the media's interpretation of what makes someone electable, but "electability" itself, like competence, couldn't be less ambiguous. It is the ability to get elected.

Even if there were the tiniest sliver of a chance, by pitting someone of apparent substance like Corbyn against Cameron's superficiality or sticking with his po-faced seriousness against Johnson's buffoonery, the chance is now gone. Against Theresa May's gravitas and appearance of ruthless efficiency, he stands no chance. Against Cameron, Corbyn looked like someone struggling to whip his MPs. Against May, he looks like someone who'd struggle to whip a meringue. 

The most recent poll, found him lagging 34 points behind Theresa May in public perception for "Best Prime Minister". And 12 points behind "Don't Know". Absorb that. The leader of the Labour Party is polling 12 points behind "Don't Know". 

Hostility from large quadrants of the press, disloyalty from parts of the PLP, the fragmentation of the Labour vote, the current unstable climate, the natural conservatism of the British public – all these are mountains to climb. Being shit at climbing makes them insurmountable obstacles.

Shami Chakrabarti's nomination for a life peerage typifies Corbyn's gift for doing the right thing in such a disastrously cack-handed way, it looks completely wrong.

It has been a little over a month since Corbyn unveiled to the world the publication of Chakrabarti's report into antisemitism in the Labour Party. He did so, by likening Israel to a “self-styled Islamic state”. (Yes, I know what he actually meant. I also know that any Press Chief worth a six figure salary, would have asked what he intended to say and locked him in a fucking broom cupboard, rather than let him say that. Not Seumas Milne, alas.) 

Having promised "the Labour Party will certainly not nominate new peers", Corbyn didn't see fit to let anyone else know he had changed his mind and nominated Chakrabarti – not even his own deputy. Labour people were still touring studios and briefing how these resignation honours were an example of cronyism, and how they should be scrapped, when news began to emerge. 

Instantly, the conversation mutated from Tory corruption to Labour incompetence – again – and in the process sullied honouring someone thoroughly deserving, like Chakrabarti. 

This wasn't a conspiracy. It wasn't someone undermining Corbyn and it wasn't media bias at work. It was the Labour leader, shooting from the hip and hitting his own foot. It was a fumble. One of many, but not the biggest.

Why are we cheering failure?

The biggest recent fumble, I think, has flown almost completely under the radar.

On the 12th of July, Labour's National Executive Committee met to decide the terms of the leadership contest. The question on everybody's lips was “will Corbyn be on the ballot automatically?” When the decision was made – 18 in favour to 14 against – Corbyn, couldn't wait to go outside and speak to the assembled press. No, not speak. Crow. Anyone who believes Corbyn is not a vain man, should watch this three-minute press call.

He then rushed off. A few tube stops away in Kentish Town, an important WE LOVE YOU JEREMY RALLY was assembling. It marked the beginning of the interminable WE LOVE YOU JEREMY TOUR: a hectic schedule of visiting safe Labour seats like Holborn and St Pancras, in which twenty-nine thousand people voted for Labour and hailing a thousand of them turning up as a sign of inevitable electoral success. Or five thousand people turning up for a Liverpool rally – Merseyside, an area which Labour hold by a clear majority of more than 300,000 votes over their nearest rivals, being a notoriously difficult place to find left-leaning folk.

Meanwhile, however, the NEC meeting was ongoing. A six month freeze date was being decided which would disenfranchise 140,000 - mainly Corbyn supporters. And a £25 one-off fee was introduced which would cost 180,000 people – again, we're told, mainly Corbyn supporters - £4.5m. “Dirty tricks” some muttered the next day. Nothing of the sort. Those two issues were on the agenda and were reported on the day before the meeting by both the Guardian and the New Statesman

Moreover, Corbyn knew the meeting was still ongoing. He responded to the very last question of that press call, about timings, with “that is being decided right now”. He rushed off to his rally and at the very moment John McDonnell was warming up the crowd by saying the problem with the “plotters” was that they're “fucking useless”, the man who could have and should have been at the NEC meeting, who would even have had a vote on these issues, was instead waiting backstage. 

And “Jeremy” stepped on the stage. And the crowd cheered loudly and long for the man who had just cost many of them £25, because he is an amateur. Because he simply left the meeting too early. 

Image by Stuart Houghton

And now I am asked to knock on doors in six months or a year or two – because there will be an early election – and tell people to put this man in charge of defence meetings and flood meetings and terrorism prevention meetings and Brexit negotiation meetings and trade deal meetings; to put his wild, foolish coterie of zealots in charge of the country.

And I'm telling you, in all good conscience, I cannot and will not. Because right now, the only thing more frightening to any rational person than Labour losing the next election, is Labour winning it with Corbyn in charge. 

A simple thought experiment

Here's a thought experiment, if you're open to it.

Let us suppose David Cameron had refused to go after the referendum and everything that is going on in Labour was going on in the Tory party. His cabinet all resigned one by one, his backbenchers were briefing the press against him, he lost a vote of no confidence 4 to 1. And the net result was that he simply couldn't provide effective government. Couldn't even fill cabinet positions. 

But still Cameron simply refused to resign. He said: I don't care, I'm not going, I was elected, I have a mandate. What would your reaction be? 

Would you be saying: "Yes, I can see both sides, his MPs are behaving very poorly, and they've told lies"? Would you be arguing “No, he mustn't resign, because this would undermine the democratic mandate he got”? Would you be suggesting none of this is his fault, even though it happened on his watch?

Or would you be jumping up and down, going: "I don't care. He's ultimately responsible for everything falling apart on his watch. He must go. The country needs a government. If you can't pull your party together you're no leader."? 

The country needs an opposition just as much as it needs a government. 

I don't ask questions to which I don't know the answers. I ask this one knowing full well what the answer is. Because it is pretty much what every Labour person was screaming at John Major when this actually happened. I ask it to encourage you to take emotional investment out of the issue and see how blindingly obvious the answer becomes. 

It doesn't matter how unfair it all is and how we got here. The country needs an opposition just as much as it needs a government. And migrants like me, whose fate is openly being talked about as a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations, need an opposition now. Not in three months, not in two years, when Corbyn might get his act together. Not in twenty years when a socialist utopia may or may not rise from the horizon of our fantasy. 

What now? 

Change is a slow, dirty, ugly, long process. We would all like to sign an online petition and magically transform the world. But this is just not how it works.

The Occupy phenomenon showed that a protest movement has a vital role to play in opening up new areas of political guerilla warfare, expanding the conversation in areas that traditional politics cannot reach and engaging the young. There is no doubt in my mind that those tents in front of St Paul's acted as a catalyst and raising agent for crucial conversations about corporate greed, inequality, and austerity. 

The other thing we learned, however, is that such movements have natural limitations, unless they become organised within existing political frameworks. Occupy Wall Street was called "a constructive failure" by its co-creator. Podemos in Spain, tried to mix protest and politics, tried to stay intentionally disorganised, chaotic, rooted in disparate local politics, unstructured and leaderless. The result was that it hit a ceiling and started to fall apart

The only counter-narrative is SyRizA in Greece. It took a disparate alliance of factions, organised them into a party, harnessed the energy of the Syntagma Square protesters, and won power within established structures. It has been a process of, sometimes unpallatable, compromise, of sullying something pure, which has seen some factions break off. Key to this was the charismatic, quick-thinking, pragmatic and competent Alexis Tsipras. He held the party together, until the glue had become fixed. 

SyRizA's critics are many and vehement. Some argue, with force, that if you compromise your principles in order to hold power, you're as bad as the rest. Some say that there is no point to a progressive government if it subscribes to any neoliberal principles. I suspect the estimated one million uninsured and destitute Greeks who gained access to free prescription medicines on the 1st of August, would disagree. 

Why, then, is Jeremy Corbyn attempting to take the Labour Party in the opposite direction and - as he has stated clearly on many occasions - turn it from a political party to a protest movement; from something occasionally dirty, but very effective, to something which will be pure but risks being pointless? As Tom Crewe notes in his excellent piece about Corbyn supporters for the LRB: "there is no sign that the public shares in this revolutionary spirit. ‘Prime ministerial’ persists awkwardly as a desirable quality." 

And why should such a movement emerge from the Labour Party anyway? If social change from the grassroots is the key and mass movement is the model, why take Labour - an entity altogether different, concerned explicitly with making a difference by being government - and try to forcibly shape it into something else, Why wouldn't you start from scratch with, for instance, Momentum? I tend to agree with Helen Lewis's suggested asnwer: "because it’s easier to hijack something that already exists than build something new from scratch". 

There are then, in effect, two "coups" ongoing. Let us be honest about this, too. Both factions are attempting to resolve the electorate/membership/PLP/Leader disconnect that I described while keeping the Labour brand, membership, structures and, most importantly, money for "their" Labour. 

Only one, however, can be effective. This is because the problem is not merely one of disunity, but also of incompetence and those two things feed into each other in a destructive loop. The more disunity there is, the more difficult it becomes to lead the party. The more difficult it is to lead the party, the more incompetent it appears. The more incompetent it appears, the more disunity it creates. 

And we know that this incompetence, unfortunately, exists quite independently of the disunity. The reverse is not true. The party has been able to function united under the right leadership during most of its history. If the PLP managed to overthrow Corbyn, the party would have a (admittedly, slim) chance at being both competent and united.  If Corbyn wins and manages to deselect all dissenters and take full control (quite apart from this being hugely unhealthy, politically) the party would be united, but its leader would be no more competent or appealing to the wider electorate. 

Once your supporters are shaped into an "army", your movement becomes an instrument of violence. 

Add to that the violent fervour and denialism of his supporters and the solution becomes clear and urgent. Corbyn must be ousted at all costs. Everything else can be fixed later. After the events of last month, and in the current environment, the urgent need is not for perfect socialism in twenty years. The need is for moderate, inclusive politics, right now; for evidence-led policy; for rational, cool debate. 

Corbyn offers the opposite. The kind of fanaticism he has stirred, the atmosphere of a personality cult, combined with anger and disregard for facts and expert evidence, put him on the same continuum as Ukip, Brexit, Trump and much of the darkness which plagues the world. His policies being "lovely" is irrelevant. Once your supporters are shaped into an "army", your movement becomes an instrument of violence, however noble your intentions. 

When the world is spinning out of control one does not add weight to the extremes, but ballast to the centre. 



Please NB, I am taking a short break from twitter, as I find it has become a negative and, at times, abusive space. If you want to comment on this piece, please use the comment function below and try not to be a dick. 


Byline is a crowd-funded media platform. If you appreciate my work, please consider supporting it with a donation of as little as £1 per month. A link to donating can be found to the right of this article (or underneath on a mobile or tablet). Thank you. 

#Corbyn, #Labour, #Socialism, #Meomentum, #Syriza, #Smith, #Coup, #PLP, #Leadership



3 years ago

I'm sorry, but this: "Because right now, the only thing more frightening to any rational person than Labour losing the next election, is Labour winning it with Corbyn in charge" and "Such a person, almost invariably, speaks far enough from the edge of the economic cliff, that they would have time to order a big Ocado and hide in their Islington attic, were such a Revolution to actually occur." are just absolutely irritating. I almost can't believe you're even attempting to make such arguments, especially while condemning the apparent ubiquity of similar fallacies amongst those who support Corbyn.
You're breaking the Freedom Rule of argument (in MULTIPLE ways), blithely suggesting that every single person who supports Corbyn is somehow exactly the same and buying into fallacious ego-centric and schematic thinking (why do I even need to point out the fallacy behind this point? Why is plurality not a factor in your thinking here?), and committing multiple instances of fallacious ad hominem attacks (there's basic ad hominem here, poisoning the well (against Corbyn and his political allies) and circumstantial ad hominem as well).
I'm likely committing the fallacy fallacy here but, given the foundational nature of these points in your argument, I can't begin to accept anything else you're trying to convince me of here.


3 years ago

Best piece, by far, I've read on Corbyn - thanks.

I also live hand to mouth and was recently homeless. Can I buy you a pint or two? [email protected]

Rev Graeme Hancocks

3 years ago

What a thought provoking article. I agree entirely. I have become deeply disturbed by the fanaticism that has been stirred up, the almost cult like status conferred by Corbyns supporters - I have seen this first hand in religion and especially religious fundamentalism and its similarities quite disturbing. Indeed I have even read tweets where he is even directly compared, referred to even, as Jesus for sitting on a train floor - having neglecting to book a free seat! I shall use my vote for OS this time and then shall have to leave and have nothing to do with labour further - after decades of canvassing, supporting, donating etc etc - after the inevitable JC "victory" and Labours descent into madness. I know of literally no one amongst - my largely working class - family and friends - who view Corbyn and co as remotely electable. Sadly, I have also come to the conclusion that the only thing worst than a Labour defeat would be a labour victory with this crew at the helm. What they do not get - perhaps cannot get because of their "denialism" - is just how objectionable Corbyn and his supporters are to the majority of Labour supporters and voters outside the club of immediate membership. Anyway, thank you - I feel better for having read such a sensible analysis.


3 years ago

Many thanks for this thoughtful piece, Alex. Unlike you, I never supported Corbyn's candidacy in itself; however, I saw the value in it as a means of rejuvenating debate within the Labour Party, given how lacklustre the other candidates were. Well, that hope certainly came true before backfiring horribly, as the party seems pathologically incapable of debate beyond the smears. The party has a lot of talented people but sadly they aren't being harnessed.

I don't have much to add with respect to the Labour Party's problems and prospects, given that you have articulated them much better. However, a few very tangential points linked to a couple of throwaway comments you made:

1) Your characterisation of Podemos is wrong. It did indeed start as a loosely organised, locally rooted movement; however, within about a year of his leadership, Iglesias moved to centralise the leadership structure of the party, precisely because the previous (decentralised) model was proving chaotic and inefficient. Many within his party were opposed to this - some senior figures even resigned - but Iglesias managed to get the membership behind it, threatening to quit otherwise. After the decision-making overhaul, the party adopted more orthodox, Keynesian policies, and discarded some of the more radical ones, such as the euroscepticism and demand for a write-down in the public debt. This was intended to win over voters more inclined toward the centre. Looking at the gridlocked Spanish political landscape now, I seriously doubt that Podemos would have polled higher than it ultimately did by sticking to its original structure.

2) Alexis Tsipras and SYRIZA were dealt a lousy set of cards; there's no denying that. In many respects, the game they chose to play was rigged from the start. But your characterisation of Tsipras as a "quick-thinking, pragmatic and competent" seems a stretch. He is clearly an effective party manager; but so is Francois Hollande. Tsipras exhibited an appalling lack of strategic or tactical instinct with respect to SYRIZA's policy goals following his election. From the start, he played a very Greece-centric game, full of provocative and counter-productive gestures regarding Germany's past, and failing to attempt to build a wider European alliance in any meaningful way, even though there would have been a lot of sympathetic ears at the very least. By the time of the snap election, he didn't look like he was a man who was in control. He is nothing more than a figurehead for SYRIZA; the real powers behind the throne are former communists like Yannis Dragasakis, whose cynicism is particularly apparent in the party's rapid willingness to accommodate the vested interests who form the primary obstacle to the institutional overhaul that Greece so desperately needs. SYRIZA may be able to throw out bandaid to parts of the population, some of which may even improve some lives and therefore can't be sneered at, but this isn't enough, as the polls there are currently reflecting.

3) You say that Corbyn and his supporters want to move away from the dirt and corruption of government to become a protest movement rooted in purity of principle. The Labour Party may be becoming a protest movement but based on the abuse that you describe and to which so many others have been subjected, the vanguard of this protest movement aren't exactly pure, are they? For them, the ends (whatever they are, exactly) are clearly justified by the (crude) means.

Haravikk Mistral

3 years ago

You might want to check you have a clear understanding of the concept of "truth" when writing an article that claims to be the truth about anything.

Where to begin?

1. You go to tedious lengths in an attempt to establish yourself as some put upon Corbyn supporter who had a change of heart, yet you said yourself that you considered none of the leadership candidates to be electable, and that your thought process began with "fuck it". This isn't an issuing of "turning" if you started from no real stance at all.
2. You claim Corbyn supported homeopathy, but if you actually bothered to investigate EDM 908 from 2010 you'd notice it's not supporting homeopathy, it's a motion critical of the government research conducted into homeopathy, which was performed very poorly. Anyone who wanted useful conclusions (which we have since received in abundance) would be right to support it.
3. You mention Corbyn's "stance on IRA violence", but in truth (there's that magic word) he didn't support IRA violence, he simply refused to condemn it when ambushed with the question in a radio interview. Considering the amount of work that had gone into achieving peace, publicly condemning the IRA would hardly be a good move now, would it? Corbyn was vociferous about achieving peace, specifically a lasting one, not the Anglo-Irish band-aid Thatcher eventually squeezed out, why would he undo that by stirring up hatred that we all should want to put behind us?
4. You claim that the majority of Britons support Trident, but this is intentionally misleading; what Britons support is keeping the deterrent we have, but you will find that in polls on whether it should be renewed that (slim) majority quickly evaporates, particularly when the cost of the renewal is included in the poll question. So while a majority may be fine with keeping what we have under the assumption its maintenance is relatively affordable, very few are willing to keep it when the £205 billion+ cost is factored in. Of course if your interest was in "truth" you would be aware of this, rather than cherry picking the poll results that favour your statement.
5. You mention Corbyn refusing to share a platform with Cameron in the EU referendum, but the fact is that that would have been political suicide. We saw precisely that before with Ed Miliband during the Scottish independence referendum; all it did was anger voters, and do considerable damage to Labour (not to mention firmly cement Miliband as Tory-lite). While Corbyn could have been more positive about the EU, polls showed that his honest 7 out of 10 approach (recognising that the EU isn't perfect) made him the most trusted politician speaking out about the referendum, and Labour members voted overwhelmingly for remain, which is far removed from the failure of Cameron's decidedly pro-Leave party who seem to be conveniently forgotten.
6. You suggest people think Theresa May is a better PM, but she has had very little public coverage (and most of it talking her up, despite strong right-wing voting history), and nothing like the continual negative press of Corbyn, plus she's in charge of a party that isn't (publicly) fighting itself right now. For this reason any poll results taken now need to be considered in context, as we won't have a clear picture until after the leadership challenge is over and the dust settles.

These are just a few things I have time to pull out. But if you want to look at the "truth" here; right now we have a choice, keep Corbyn, or replace him with Owen Smith.

Even if Corbyn is as flawed as you say, he is still miles ahead of Smith. If Smith was genuinely a social democrat with better leadership potential, I'd consider voting for him, but all evidence points to him being nothing more than a mouthpiece for the status quo; his policies amount to little more than watered down versions of Corbyn's, and in many cases are fundamentally flawed. His solution to gender inequality is to elect women as figureheads in mayoralties and his cabinet, rather than address inequalities in pay or opportunities. His investment plan is lacklustre (anti-austerity lite), he supports welfare cuts (rather than solving the issues that cause people to rely on welfare, so in other words, more austerity), he backs Prevent (which is not only racist, but actually making problems worse) and Trident (a massive expense that our struggling economy does not need or want). He is neither socialist nor radical, he is Tony Blair 2.0, but this time around the public are a bit wiser to phoney tactics.

So in other words, the truth is that if your evidence that Corbyn is unsuitable isn't based on someone who is, or is purely based upon polls of a party dominated by infighting right now, then it's hard to call it "the truth", especially when your other evidence is almost all factually incorrect.

It's worth pointing out as well that if you don't support anyone else in Labour either than this article amounts to an attack piece on the party as a whole; our enemy are the Tories, but kicking your own party while it's down only ensure they succeed.

Tim King

3 years ago

My, what a long and important article! How, in the middle of all your highly subjective history-raking and name calling, do you have the gall to write, "It doesn't matter how unfair it all is and how we got here"? Pfft!


3 years ago

Meanwhile, residents' associations are starting to act like little soviets, putting up independent local councillors. And the self-interested are at liberty to scare the electorate into doing whatever serves their ends.

I'm starting to think MPs should be picked like jurors.

As for changing one's mind being a bad thing? Dear god.

But then we do get the politics we deserve. As a party, and as a nation.

Chris Jackson

3 years ago

I have almost always voted Labour, although sometimes very half heartedly, on the basis that it was the best of a thoroughly bad bunch. I believe many people feel the same way, particularly those who have stopped voting Labour. When you speak to people they say, nothing ever works, politics is too corrupt, it doesn't matter who is in power, they are all bad. In Jeremy Corbyn I see somebody who isn't just as bad as the rest, maybe he isn't the greatest leader, but I can't see a better alternative and maybe people can be convinced to vote for a Labour party that is different to how it has been for too long. A Labour government that will build social housing, curtail the activities of corrupt bankers, strengthen and protect the NHS, outlaw zero hours contracts, protect workers rights, protect human rights, stop wasting money on weapons that can never be used. I'm not a member of any left wing organisation, just an ordinary person, who wants to see a fairer society and do you really know how many other people feel like me that there is a need for a real change. Even Theresa May knew it as witnessed by her Prime ministerial speech, the difference was, with her it is just saying the right things, but carrying on with business as usual. It won't take long for people to see that and start to realise that the real change isn't going to come from a Tory Government.

Tony Kirk

3 years ago

I did try reading but just had to keep skipping. It was painful, depressing misanthropic nihilism, the overall message being "dont vote, they are all as bad as each other". Dark night of the soul kind of thing. In spite of the article, I live in hope.
Take care of yourself. I will say a prayer for you.

Tom Katsumi

3 years ago

"I have been as vociferous in my opposition to Corbyn as I was in supporting him a year ago."

Which doesn't instil confidence in me that your opinion can really be trusted. People who flit between opposite extremes often find it easier to just switch sides than learn nuance. Melanie Phillips used to be left wing...

Haravikk Mistral

3 years ago

When his reason for voting Jeremy in the first place was in effect "fuck it", they're all unelectable so I'll pick the least bad one, that's not what I'd call vociferous in the first place. This article is proof that he's far more negative about Corbyn now than he was ever positive about him in the past.

So it's not really about jumping from one extreme to the other, it's about jumping from a position of indifference, to a position of vocal apathy mingled with ill-informed personal attacks.

The part that I find hard to trust is that he is a Labour supporter at all; even if Corbyn is as bad as a leader as is claimed (I don't believe so) then at least he's trying, and could perhaps succeed with support, but lashing out at him with no alternative hurts the party as a whole and hurts its chances, rather than helping them.

Rory Merton

3 years ago

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

Frances Kay

3 years ago

It is, it seems, arguable that Corbyn said Article 50 should be invoked immediately. Here, if you wish to follow the link, is a little context:
I was myself conflicted about Remain/Leave for all the left wing reasons - TTIP, treatment of refugees and bullying of Greece. Like Corbyn, I did not want to stay in the EU in its present form. But he thought this through, and changed his opinion after discussions with Yanis Varoufakis, and argued for Remain and Reform. His argument convinced me to vote Remain. I don't think I was the only one sick of the fear and hysteria of the main pro and anti camps - I liked his honesty. I did one of those tests and I was only 60% in favour of Remain. Anyone who says he did not do enough needs to see the stats of who spoke most - he was far and away the most energetic but of course received no coverage. But, as I've already said, this split is not about one man, it is a fundamental divergence of vision which Labour as a whole needs to acknowledge and somehow deal with.

Patrick G

3 years ago

This piece is very well written and describes many of the uncertainties people are feeling about themselves and the world at this moment in time, including myself and agree with much of what you say.

This only started as a small response but it has provoked a rather long reply, so apologies in advance! There are lots of things to comment on but I'll just take this sentence to start:

'Or five thousand people turning up for a Liverpool rally – Merseyside, an area which Labour hold by a clear majority of more than 300,000 votes over their nearest rivals, being a notoriously difficult place to find left-leaning folk.'

It hasn't always been so on Merseyside and in many cases that isn't the case. Labour didn't have a majority in Liverpool City Council until 1983. In 2008, the Liberal Democrats had 45 seats in the City Council compared to Labour's 39. The Wirral has historically been a Conservative stronghold, alongside stretches of the Sefton coast towards Southport. Also, there used to be a strong working class vote on Merseyside for the Conservatives, this was tied to Liverpool's history with sectarianism and unionist politics, things now long gone.

There is also a lower than average voter turnout, hovering around 60% for many areas. The turnout for the recent Mayoral elections in Liverpool was 31%. Half of the areas in Merseyside voted to leave the EU, concentrated in the outer fringes of the region like Knowsley.

By homogenising swathes of the political geography of the UK not only belies the intricacies of class and politics in British society but it stifles the possibilities for change, it almost cements the past and future. Boxing places off into left-wing, right-wing - it's more like a mosaic, a patchwork of places, history, culture, identity, occupation and politics. We are too used to those political maps with their swathes of filled in blue, red, yellow, purple and green. It also assumes that things stay relatively stable, it's exemplified on your sentence about Merseyside being a Labour, left-wing place and a sort determinism that it will stay that way, but it also affects much of the other thinking in this piece.

I have attempted to show things do not stay the same, as obvious as it sounds. Things change and move on. Arguably in the last 5 years, British politics has undergone a bigger transformation than over the last 50 years. If in 2010 you said the current politics would be as it is, you’d have been laughed at. Society is accelerating much quicker now and this is a feature of our times. The future has become even more uncertain despite our desire to control it, if you are to believe that we have somehow crossed the Rubicon with Brexit, it is hard to imagine how you think things can stay the same. Corbyn offers the best position from a Labour party perspective that can confront the challenges of a declining two-party state and a political system that has not caught up with 21st century on choice, participation and engagement.

The debates rage over our parliamentary democracy being incompatible with a social movement. How Corbyn cannot continue without the support of his MPs. He is not credible. Reading a review by Christopher Hitchens on Gordon Brown's book in the London Review of Books in 1989, when Labour also suffered a credibility crisis, Hitchens remarked: 'the ratchet of the credible paradoxically operates to the benefit of people who really mean what they say, which is why the facts of life have been Tory for so long.'

This paradoxical credibility ratchet is on display in this Labour crisis. Party members trust Corbyn because they think he means what he says. Corbyn is at his best when discussing things off the cuff and in moral terms. No he is not the best at strategy, he's in fact quite bad, yes he makes terrible mistakes, yes he likes attention. Those against Corbyn throw the barrel of facts at the Corbyn supporters, these are beat away in what you refer to as 'denialism' and a sort of solipsism which is an accusation also levelled at those who voted to leave the EU and hence the Corbynite/Brexiteer comparison that is gaining ground, like in Tom Crewe's piece for the LRB.

But what about emotions? Gove's 'people have had enough of experts' was off the mark, but 'take back control' was the most powerful message of the EU referendum. It was a direct appeal to emotions, and people are feeling emotional, we are feeling confused and lost, like the world is bewildering. With all that is going on around us, it feels like returning to the basics of compassion, love and dignity are so badly needed. This is where Corbyn excels. This is where he is best and where he garners support and admiration, his moralism is too black and white, granted, but at least it is there and he wears it on his sleeve, giving hope. The Janus face of politicians has bred scepticism and distrust, the rise of these individuals who we place trust and believe in, is an inevitable response of the widening sense of powerlessness and bewilderment amongst people under globalisation.

I don't see what alternative you are hoping for, as others have mentioned, when are we to wait for? Another ten years? Another twenty years? We have spoken for so long about acting now, that we cannot go on any longer doing the things we are doing to our planet. When all seems so wrong in the world, where there is such loss of innocence and life on a daily basis, we break bonds of humanity as the forgotten dead pile up and starve every day. Your sentence about ballasting the centre I feel completely. Though the centre would not be ballasted by voting for Owen Smith. The remarks about Corbynism changing the Labour party for the better would be gone in an instant were Smith to win, any remnants of Corbyn and the left would be eradicated. No longer do we feel like we can sit on the fence and this is highly disconcerting as someone who cares deeply, who tries to think about things from many different points of view, to understand the problem from all sides, though I do think some of the Left criticising Corbyn are pursuing an endless critique and we need action. We are being pulled by either side, we seem to have gone terribly wrong, 'turning and turning in the widening gyre' Yeats wrote in 1919 and it feels accurate now.

I keep reading over and over The Second Coming (where that quote comes from) alongside another of Yeats’ poems, Easter 1916. Those were times of significant changes in society too, if not more so. In 1919, the world is spinning out of control it seemed. In his writing Yeats is being pulled in every which direction, he mocks his own ‘polite meaningless words’. All around him, the loss of innocence and being forced to take sides – though that was to condone armed insurrection or condemn it. It was either or and it was too much. After 1919, Yeats thinking and life were changed by the brutality and destruction of human civilisation is unchangeable, rooted in a divine cosmology of which we have no control. As such Yeats became devoted to the self, morality and his own intimate connection with our world and God. Innocence was lost, so that's where he tried to find solace. I hope you can find some too.

Dan Lodge

3 years ago

Well put.

It's such a shame that many of Corbyn's opponents within the Labour party miss comments like this. Often it seems his supporters are seen as mindless fanatics. Genuinely thoughtful and considered support for Corbyn is not even considered possible. It's clear Corbyn is not perfect but he's the man of the hour and until someone better surfaces (which seems impossibly unlikely to happen before the next general election) those who oppose Neo Liberalism and the injustices in our society must unite behind him. I dearly hope we can pursue a campaign of hope and inspiration for an improved future.

Drew Winter

3 years ago

Alex, I just want to make a few points.

I think you raise some interesting issues here and many Corbyn supporters would share the concerns you have about his leadership. The point you seem to miss though is that Labour members haven't been offered a viable alternative.

"Corbyn must be ousted at all costs. Everything else can be fixed later."* - this is the solution you offer. Yet his MPs have already tried this and Corbyn was absolutely right not to resign. He made his position completely clear: if you want to replace me, put somebody up to stand against me. If the cost of removing Corbyn is democracy then we are fighting a very different war.

Scotland, again this is laid at Corbyn's feet when Labour's problems in Scotland are a little more deep-rooted and very much pre-date Corbyn. Personally, I see Labour as slumping to third place as quite a natural progression. Would you honestly expect two Parties on a left-leaning Social Democratic platform to be the two main parties of opposition?

Lastly, and most worrying for me, is the fact that I felt the need to hold back when formulating my response here. That's not to say that I planned a torrent of abuse, but largely because I've seen some of your activity in social media comment boxes and in this hyper-sensitive environment it has become necessary for anyone stepping in Corbyn's defence to take care not to be dragged into the mob. Yet I commend you for the clever trap you have set. In portraying Corbyn's supporters as an army blindly rushing to his defence at the merest offence, it not only serves to confirm your arguments when people like myself appear in your comments box but it also makes mine easier to dismiss. As though I'm not an individual capable of my own thoughts and reasoning, but just another Corbynista troll. In quitting Twitter, you even bunkered yourself before the army advance. And the reason this is so clever is that there is one thing Corbyn supporters can't resist: passionate political debate.

*I really just wanted to highlight the fact that in the same paragraph you state: 'The need is for moderate, inclusive politics, right now; for evidence-led policy; for rational, cool debate.'

Alex Andreou

3 years ago

Either that or I had a decent idea of how they react to criticism and knew what was coming,


3 years ago

You accurately call Twitter an 'echo chamber' and then go on to build your whole case against his supporters on tweets (that may or may not have been sent by genuine Corbyn supporters). Most of the Corbyn supporters I know don't use Twitter and are in fact just normal people, not Trotskyist extremists.

Maybe it's you who needs to step outside the echo chamber.

Alan Lockey

3 years ago

Excellent piece. The 'denialism' is particularly passage is particularly intriguing. There is something about the internet and social media that is driving activists relentlessly towards nonsensical confirmation bias conspiracy-ism. What I would say is I'm not at all convinced its contained to the political extremes. In fact I worry rather that it may be expanding those extremes quite apart from any other material explanations for the current state of global politics. Troubling times lie ahead.

Adrian Byrne

3 years ago

A painstakingly researched piece. I kind of think had we not had a referendum to leave Europe and decided to leave, this piece would never have come about. As a country what doesn't often have referenda I can sort of understand the irritation and desperation to annul the result. I have many middle class friends who have called for that. I don't think that's democracy done well. Although I, as an emigrant, have felt disheartened by the result, I would not wish to see the voices of the people muted in this way. I completely take some of those criticisms of JC. He has found it hard to have a media voice and to reach through that medium to raise support of floating voters en masse. For this reason I can understand calling his credibility into question and I can understand it when people criticise him for being ineffectual in this way. When it comes to voting for someone more 'effective' - I just don't know who there is with any credibility. I have seen multiple comments about Donald Trump. I understand this. It's almost a voice calling up from all those that have been hard done by and who have been left behind in modern Britain. People that have been cowed for too long by the left, the right and by big media; and they want something 'other'. I guess JC is all the largest party of the left has to offer.


3 years ago

Thanks Alex. Many things I don't agree with. I watched the Press Statement (vanity) and what I saw was confidence. And probably some relief about the decision. Remember his early encounters with the media. He's got better, a lot better. He's learning.

I still basically don't accept the "he's incompetent" line from the MP's. I have heard those incidents described from different perspectives and I still think it's difficult to tell for certain what is really going on but it seems the explanation isn't so hard to guess at. They think he's unelectable and they wanted him to stand down . Yet they have now conspired (resignations, and vote of no confidence etc) to make him, and much more importantly, the party even more unelectable.

He is probably going to win. What will you do then?

Josephine Gardiner

3 years ago

Good article - it is a sign of intelligence to change your mind in response to evidence, and it takes courage to do that in public. It's far easier to cling stubbornly to a belief, or, if you have doubts, to take refuge in self-deception. You can see plenty of stubbornness and self-deception in Corbyn and his followers, along with 'denialism', as you point out. Corbynism is a disaster for Labour, for the Left, for democracy, and for anyone in Britain without property or a financial cushion. Lovely for the Tories, though (and UKIP).

Steve Mitchell

3 years ago

THANKS. This a great piece and urgently needed saying. There is so much with which I agree and this is a link to a blog I wrote on the subject a while back:

Edward McGee

3 years ago

Good read. I support Corbyn but i recognise his criticisms. For me, Corbyns downfall was the EU referendum and not becuase of the passion in his campaigning. I think he should have been truthful, he was a eurosceptic before he became leader and he should have been honest as he said he was going to be. I dont think he should've had to resign as leader if he was a eurosceptic because I think party members should be free to have their opinions regardless of the party policy. What he should have done was initiated a nomination process to select someone to lead the Labour remain and leave campaigns. I wanted us to remain but we have to accept the result and start brexit. The key issue now is retaining seats which were so pro-leave but also have Labour MPs and winning back seats which were mainly lost to the Tories or SNP. Had Corbyn done what I had mentioned, he would now be free from many of the criticisms regarding his campaigning and we cold be in a better position. My gut feeling is pro-leave supporters would relate to Corbyn more than Smith when it comes to the EU and issues such as globalisation but this would most likely see us lose remain supporters to Lib Dems or Greens. I want Labour to win a GE of course, but under Corbyn or Smith we probably won't. It comes down to damage limitations for me. Corbyn could retain us seats but wont win us many if any. Smith could win us some seats but I'd imagine at the expense of some seats which voted leave. Its a very difficult choice. For me it boils down to democracy, whoever wins this leadership contest has to be given the time. And we will se were we are after the next G.E.

Haravikk Mistral

3 years ago

He was truthful about his eurosceptic nature; one of the main criticisms against him is that he said he's only 7/10 on the EU, which is truthful, because while he has often called for reform, and a more socialist EU, he hasn't expressed a desire to leave unless those goals are impossible.

There are however many strong social democratic movements across Europe, so the possibility still remains for the EU to be reformed, but that would be a lot easier within it.

The problem with talking about Brexit though is that it may not be within either leadership candidate's power to do anything; once Article 50 is invoked we will be aiming to be out of the EU within two years, which means before Labour can possibly be in power. All opposition can really hope to do is shape its outcome.

So talking about halting the process is politically risky; if Jeremy Corbyn did it you can guarantee he'd be ripped apart for being un-democratic, meanwhile Owen Smith is dangling a second referendum without the same treatment, yet it's clearly just a bribe to Remainers as he will have no more power to act upon it unless there is a snap general election, and can we really trust him to do anything he says given his history?

The same issues are true of other parties; Lib Dems and Greens can talk about halting Brexit all they like, but they may not have the power to do it, which means the only option may be to push to rejoin the EU again later.

Nigel Baldwin

3 years ago

There is not much here I agree with but we can agree to disagree, I do get tired of Corbyn being called incompetent though. He's made some mistakes, he's learning. Going from back bench to front bench is a huge learning curve and he's had ten months. Making mistakes doesn't make you incompetent. But you're not going to change my mind and I'm not going to change yours. I don't care. More concerning to me is the subtle put downs in your replies to others on this blog. To someone called Margaret you said 'Disagree, if you must, but don't patronise me.' She wasn't, but that's a typical tactic to undermine someone as is the phrase 'If you think my piece should have been called (my recollection) "My Opinion of Jeremy Corbyn" you don't really understand writing.' Not only is that patronising, ('don't patronise me' you said to Margaret) it's designed to make someone feel small and assert your own superiority. And talking of understanding writing what is 'an achingly middle-class Corbynista'? Is to be middle-class 'aching'? Is it painful? Hmmmm.

Alex Andreou

3 years ago

I understand what it means, but if you have doubts, you should ask the author of that particular phrase. A full link is provided. Thanks. xx


3 years ago

Nice piece. His EU debacle is unforgiveable. Essentially, as you pretty much say, Corbyn's politics are extra-parliamentary. When we're as impoverished as Greece, people might take him to their hearts.

Alison Denton

3 years ago

Keep writing Alex. Never has an understanding of history, sociology and politics been so relevant: just the sort of 'arty rubbish' governments have decried and vilified over the years but which enables people to think and rationalise. It is scary how uncritical and unalaytical much opinion is on Twitter etc.., how anti-intellectual, ignorant, self-serving, intolerant and bullying our politics has become.


3 years ago

How dare Corbyn accept the result of a democratic refreferendum? Who is out of touch and undemocratic here?? It is telling that Corbyn's would be replacements credit him with the tactical genius of swinging the Brexit debate with his honesty and nuance. It is also those opponents who have pushed traditional Labour voters into the arms of UKIP. I know who I think is to blame.

Briv Paul

3 years ago

Yet Corbyn has rebelled against every Government Labour & Tory why does he accept this result so midly ? As for pushing people to wards UKIP What is Corbyns answer to the many faceted problem of Immigration ? The EU posted workers directive ! The EU posted workers directive WTF we are leaving the EU Man oh man

Simon Griffiths

3 years ago

I had great hopes for Corbyn. Labour was in the wilderness with Milliband with no clear way forward. Corbyn offered clear policies and hope of a more truly socialist approach. His policies were not particularly left wing in the broader analysis and there was real potential for bringing the voters with him.

However, I was dismayed when one of his first actions was to appoint McDonell. This single one action made it was clear that Corbyn was not intending to bring a broad party together. The next few months confirmed this as Corbyn focused almost entirely on the party membership, and on current Labour voters. His positioning of policies as more left-wing than they actually were helped build a membership to support him, while simultaneously distancing the Tory and UKIP voters we needed to win back.

Jeremy's first year has not been about vpters, winning power or changing the UK through Parliament; Jeremy has spent the year entrenching himself in an almost unassailable position as party leader. His first focus has not been putting to right the Tory excesses, but protecting his position by preaching to the labour party members. He spends all his efforts on party rallies and almost back voters to Labour.

Shame on you Jeremy for looking after yourself and not the most in need in the UK.

Haravikk Mistral

3 years ago

Jeremy Corbyn's first year has been spent trying to prevent the coup attempt that was planned against him since the moment it looked like he would win the leadership election, yet somehow in that time he and his team managed to find time to force Tory u-turns, plus win mayoralties and by-elections, and do some campaigning on the EU.

You also seem to be mistakenly thinking that it's the Tory and UKIP voters that Labour needs to win over. While there are certainly some who will hopefully be won back, focusing on them would be a mistake as pandering to Tory policy is what made New Labour such a disaster for this country. The more important demographic may well be those who don't vote, because they feel there is no-one to vote for.

They may also win votes from smaller parties who have little chance of winning many constituencies. Greens for example have a decent share of votes in the UK, but in most constituencies the choice is Tory or Labour only, but with a Labour party aligned on many policies their vote can be won (same policies, but with a chance of winning), plus there's talk of Labour putting forward an electoral reform proposal before the general election, so voting Labour now could benefit smaller parties long-term.

Frances Kay

3 years ago

Sorry, but what do you mean by 'His positioning of policies as more left-wing than they actually were...' I have no idea how anyone would set about doing this. All he has done is remain consistent; Owen Smith is the one who has 'positioned' himself. And the woman who voted Tory and confronted Cameron during the TV debate has since joined the Labour party. She can't be the only one.

Dan Hughes

3 years ago

Brilliant article. The section about "turning" is incredibly close to how I have felt about Corbyn and Labour over the past year and the "Armchair Che" scarily describes so many friends on my university course at the moment.

Rupert Jones-Lee

3 years ago

Kudos for being honest, but at the same time how on earth was any of what has unfolded not at least an obvious risk a year ago?

Anny Squire

3 years ago

You are so perceptive in your analysis ..this is what happened to was as if scales lifted from my eyes and yes it was onthe Europe and the mini doc that someone made plus 2nd knowledge of the JC camp that it all added up ..actually I did not think he was leadership material but supported the politics now I would not vote Labour again until things change


3 years ago

Thanks, a great article. My worry is that, even if the JC issue is resolved quickly either way, which seems unlikely, the next general election will prove so disastrous for Labour it will no longer even be the official opposition. It will cease to be relevant. Just when we need it the most. What a mess.

William Large

3 years ago

As Spinoza would say this is the politics of passive affects if anger, resentment and betrayal. The last thing that it is about us truth which requires objectivity and reason. For this reason, apart from adding more sadness in the world will have no other effect whatsoever. For those who support Corbyn and the democratic transformation of the Labour party will carry on doing so and those who hate Corbyn will carry on hating Corbyn. But these kind of writing isn't about others at all. It is just about you and your feelings and communicating them to others hoping they too will be infected. If offers no analysis, no solution and let alone hope. It is the pure cry of despair into an empty night

Cllr Allan Rees

3 years ago

I think Corbyn is great, but I'm also despairing that he'll likely not going to win a GE. Not saying Smith will either - however the controversy with the £3 supporter and instantly allowing a vote leading to questions about insurgency cannot be ignored and will continue to fester. I think the article would struggle to analyse when there's obvious areas to point out.

RPG Alexander

3 years ago

Well done, Alex.

If you really want societal change in progressive direction you have to be intellectually rigorous and honest, but too many people on the left are emotionally invested in simplistic ideas. A lot of them are young, idealistic graduates who will be doing something else with their lives in 5 or 10 years’ times and meanwhile in the absence of a credible social democratic alternative, inequality in British society will have increased substantially.

The philosophical basis of Corbynism, has been from the beginning extremely rickety. And it depends, as you point Alex, on a level of denialism that is quite staggering. The left has always prided itself on basing its ideas on reason, but Corbynism is a deeply anti-intellectual and fundamentalist.

Haravikk Mistral

3 years ago

Your proof for which (as in the article itself) is supposition alone? Hardly intellectual or objective. The only sources cited in the article are incorrect or inflammatory, rather than objective, so I fail to see how this article is intellectually rigorous or honest, especially when it starts by proclaiming to be "the truth" and is riddled with internal inconsistencies.

So whatever rules you think you're applying to "Corbynism", apply them just as equally to this article first before praising it.


3 years ago

you manage to criticize Corbyn for failing to acknowledge people's choice on trident and to act accordingly with the reality and wish of the electorate, but just shortly after that you criticize him for not acting enough against the reality and the wish of the very same electorate who in majority voted pro brexit. what kind of twisted logic you use? would you accept him if he splits in two Corbyns doing everything in opposition to each other, for example when Corbyn1 says yes, Corbyn2 says no, when Corbyn1 says save the nhs, at the very same moment Corbyn2 says privatize it. would this transformation of him fulfill your vision of the electable leader?

James Moffatt

3 years ago

Extremely well written, a lot of food for thought here! I am a massive supporter of Corbyn's policies but all his failings you have brilliantly outlined here... I don't think anyone in Labour at the moment has the capacity to lead, very sad and dark times may be ahead.
I paid £25 to vote for Corbyn but this article has made it so I will think long and hard on that and make sure to research before I vote but I suspect it won't matter, Labour shot itself in the foot since the Iraq war and has been struggling to recover since.

Margaret B

3 years ago

The first point I'd like to make is that in all fairness the title of this piece should be "My" truth about Jeremy Corbyn.

There are too many points for me to address, but here are a few.

You talk about the many mountains Corbyn has to climb and say being shit at climbing makes them insurmountable obstacles.

15 months ago Worthing Labour Party had just 150 members, today there are 700 and rising. The same must be true in pretty much every area given that the membership is now over half a million. Campaigning with that many people and the funding they have brought (the Electoral Commission confirm the Party has almost £3 million more through membership fees than they had the previous year under Ed Miliband) is surely going to be far more effective than it would have been? After all we all know that the Tories win in the last election was largely down to their Battlebus roadtrips and people on the ground talking to communities.

“Migrants like me, whose fate is openly being talked about as a bargaining chip” - consider how disabled people felt for the last 6 years. They “needed an opposition now”. Who gave it, in any tangible sense? Just as migrants are now, disabled people were used as political pawns. Many of them support Corbyn because he and McDonnell were there, standing with them, speaking for them, throughout those 6 years. Where were the rest of the party? (And I include the membership here).

On the Referendum: It’s a general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred *to them* for a direct decision. Each person had the right to vote how they wanted to vote because of what they believed. Because the outcome wasn’t what you or I wanted, doesn’t mean that politicians should have heavily influenced voters. Of course, most did - based on their own personal or party political agenda and used outright lies to exert that influence. I admire him for being honest about his views on the EU, and for not patronising me by allowing me to make up my own mind or insulting me by lying to further his own agenda.

It is surely clear by now that Corbyn believes that every person has the right to their opinion and that every person should contribute in their own way. (This is the reason he reads out letters from real people at PMQ’s). “He seemed to believe he could change politics simply by sneering at it”. Or is it that he hopes to change politics by not playing their game. PMQ’s is a farce. It achieves nothing. One set of people scoring verbal points against each other in a theatrical display of one-upmanship is frankly an embarrassment. His refusal to enter into that is to be admired in my view. It is an insular ritual. Very few of the electorate watch it anyway and when they do they are appalled.

The “holiday” issue has been dealt with - three nights. When you consider what the man has had to deal with since being elected I don’t think this is unreasonable. In reality, what difference would it have made if he had not gone away for a few days?

I’m baffled at the criticism that Corbyn has “no policies”. He’s only been in the job for 10 months and has had rather a lot to contend with. Miliband didn't have any for several years - where was the outrage then?

Why, if "Fuck it. If none of them can reach out to the wider electorate, I might as well vote for the one whose politics most closely align with mine” was ok for you at one point, it is not in your opinion ok for others to have that view now?

“A chain of takeovers, across CLPs up and down the country” - perhaps reading accounts from people who were actually present might give a slightly different appreciation of what happened?





There have also been reports of members being locked out of nomination meetings at Streatham, Blaenau Gwent, St Helens.

And then there’s the laughable letter banning CLP members from eye rolling, head shaking or tutting whilst people are speaking in meetings

Liverpool Riverside CLP (whose members support Corbyn) emailed members & gave them just 4 hours notice of the nomination meeting today

A couple of blog comments about why people support Corbyn

Scroll down to see Sarah’s comment here

Your ending says “Corbyn must be ousted at all costs” in the same breath as saying “the need is for moderate, inclusive politics, right now”. Can you not see how incongruous that sounds?

Suggesting that a man who was awarded the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award for his consistent efforts over a 30 year Parliamentary career to uphold the Gandhian values of social justice and non violence is “in the same continuum as Ukip, Brexit, Trump and much of the darkness which plagues the world” is quite frankly a joke.

Alan Calder

3 years ago

I was at the Worthing CLP meeting last week. The meeting was very respectful and voted 42-11 for Corbyn. We were told more than 800 members had signed up in last year. And yet only 53 turn up for meeting. Almost all were old members. I am 74 years old now and really do admire those who keep Labours flag flying in such unwinnable seats. In a years time it will be the same old people running the party. For £3.00 Labour has let people blow off steam and feel good but most will do nothing. Corbyn has failed. We have to be honest. Whether Smith will win I know not. But I know Corbyn will lose. The British people will not vote for a party perceived to be extreme. We should change the name of the party to the Progressive Party , stick to our policies , attract the Greens and SNP voters back. Demand a General election on the basis of reversing Brexit and keeping Scotland in UK. We would win by a landslide.

Margaret B

3 years ago

I was not patronising you Alex and I do not see where I indicated in any way that I saw the rights of migrants as being in competition with those of disabled people or that I was advocating you or anyone else being thrown to the wolves or that that would be acceptable in any way shape or form. I myself am a migrant and disabled!
I do hope that you took time (or will take the time) to read the reports from people who attended the CLP meetings - they constitute part of the "available evidence" and as such should be taken into account, otherwise it may seem that you're avoiding anything which doesn't back up your view.
Interestingly the bookies today have Corbyn as the favourite to become PM after May. (Of course bookies, as well as Polls, can be wrong).

Alex Andreou

3 years ago

Margaret, many thanks for your plethora of resources on the reasons people support Corbyn, but I already understand them. I also supported him. My complaint is that I see none of that rhetoric translated into action because he has been awful at the actual job. Disagree, if you must, but don't patronise me. I have never seen the rights of migrants as competing with those of disabled people. I offer nothing less that my full solidarity to your struggle. Why don't you? Why do you see my being thrown to the wolves as acceptable collateral damage? I fail to see how a Theresa May government for the next decade will be better for you. Because that is what all the evidence points to and I t is that resistance to all available evidence which is positively UKIP-like.

john riches

3 years ago

An interesting article Alex, thank you.

However, I do think you're missing the point a bit. Others below have taken apart some of it better than I could, but I think that it's worth you remembering that the only other option at the moment is Owen Smith.

And the problem with that is, that repeatedly saying 'I'm electable' doesn't make it true. When you add his unworkable 'we must have a 2nd referendum' baloney that would play havoc in the so-called 'Labour Heartlands', to his plainly-recent conversation to Socialism, to the various gaffes - 'smash on heels', 'you're only asked on QT cos you're a woman' etc - that he's made in the few weeks we've known about him, it's pretty clear that he would lose various constituencies all over the place.

(It matter not that those 'gaffes' are slight, and maybe even unwarranted; for somebody who is supposedly 'electable', a better 'unifying' leader, who has better 'communication', it's plain that he has neither - and, given a clear run, the press will crucify him too. Except he won't have any conviction, or convicted supporters, to fall back on.)

Maybe your angry disappointment with Corbyn is a mirror image of the faith you had in him. I joined Labour and voted for Corbyn last year, but I've never felt he is any sort of Messiah, and I disagree with him on a number of things (PR, the BBC, progressive alliances to name a few); however, it's plain that he is the only game in town when it comes to Socialism, for the moment; he's always been clear that it's not about him, it's about the movement - and the reason that he's sticking around is that the movement needs to continue to grow (his evident delight after the NEC was because he knew how important it was that the movement had a voice in the election, it wasn't vanity). I've always thought that he won't hang around till the next election (should it be 4 years away) but that after a couple of years - once 'the movement' is solid - will stand down and nominate somebody like Clive Lewis.

(By the way, if you think that my focusing on 'the movement' over Labour as an entity is missing the point, the reason I do so is that Labour has been losing voters for over a decade; a return to managerialism and centrism would just enhance the 'they're all the same' mantra in the eyes of the populace, so a 'movement' - people across the country, promoting and arguing for change in their local community - is, in my opinion, the only way of reversing the decline.)

Though whether that happens is sort of beside the point here; as I said, right now, the only other option is Owen Smith, and in my opinion, despite his shirtsleeves, 'passion' and articulateness, that would be a disaster - alienating the membership, the PLP, and the voters all in one go.

I'm wondering about your 'Corbyn must be ousted at all costs' though; at all costs? Really? Does that cost include another leadership election next year? Permanent party war? With no let-up?

Last thing; calling it 'the truth' is a disingenuous overstatement; it's your opinion, and has no more validity or objective truth than mine.

In comradeship, best wishes

Drew Winter

3 years ago

If you think the piece should have been called "My Opinion of Jeremy Corbyn" you don't really understand clickbait.

Alex Andreou

3 years ago

Thank you for your comment. I hear much about the evils of "managerialism" recently, but that isn't what is lacking. Just basic management. The argument that competence means Labour will be seen as the same as other parties goes to the heart of my argument. Most people want competence. And will vote for competence. There is nothing radical about incompetence, except in the most feverish little brains. Finally, if you think the piece should have been called "My Opinion of Jeremy Corbyn" you don't really understand writing.

Briv Paul

3 years ago

Oh how little u know Corbyn said today he won't leave if he looses a general election if the members don't want him to As the membership is now slanted in his favour by the arrival of all the TUSC & greens Like Schneider & Bastani and other die hards don't recognise an election defeat they not interested in power. Hence Labour is running towards electoral wilderness & that means people who need a Labour Government will suffer .He won't stand down and hand it to Lisa Nandy because it's all about his stubbornness & ego .There is no great lust for a far left wing party in the UK Every election shows us that Corbyns policies are pretty similar to Milibands apart from the electoral turn off of Trident with only 25% of people not wanting a deterrent. A great man with some great ideas but also a useless debater & organiser His press team are just a joke.Cant expect the electorate to wait for him to tweet to find out where he stands on daily events Was AWOL during New PM new Cabinet BHS Sports Direct scandals. Labour is a political party not a protest movement .

Sam Forsyth

3 years ago

It is about time we had some honesty and dare I say it, realism. Thank you. As someone who has spent most of the last week campaigning in a safe labour seat, I invite all those who think JC Is electable to come and knock on the same doors as I have. The vast majority of labour voters think he is a joke; they say so openly. He is not a leader; he is a shambles. Fortunately, we have a good local MP whom they respect,who works hard and reflect their concerns.

Alex Andreou

3 years ago

I am perfectly serious, if a tad facetious. Very few MPs will survive the oncoming ideological purge. Several people's response to this piece has been to point out that "competence delivered PFIs and the war in Iraq".

john riches

3 years ago

Having posted that you've wrote an interesting article above, I then see your comment here, so now - given that it's a bit petty, untrue, and childish - I think that I may have given your sincerity a bit too much creedence. Genuinely, I hope not.

Keep it adult Alex - even if others don't - it's best for all of us.

Alex Andreou

3 years ago

Not for long, I'm sure. All effective MPs will be deselected, as effectiveness is a Blairite and/or Tory trait.

Peter Kirkham

3 years ago

Thank you for putting into words what I, as a (potential) Labour voter, but not a Labour member, feels. I like (most of) Corbyn's policies. I REALLY hoped he would change our politics for the better...but, like you, I have reluctantly concluded he is useless as a Leader. There is no way in a million years he will lead Labour into power. And so they will not be able to implement any of the good policies he talks about. I despair of the Labour Party. I despair of our political system. I am I'm despair that he has squandered probably the best chance in my lifetime of ACTUALLY changing things. I despair for the country I once loved but which I am disliking more & more with every day... Thank you for writing this

Alan Calder

3 years ago

Electoral system has to change. Too many constituencies (Tory and Labour) are not contest able. Labour should change name to Progressive Party , demand a General Election on our current policies plus remaining in EU and Scotland remaining in UK. Tories would split and we would win next election, whenever it takes place, comfortably.


3 years ago

I don't believe Andreou has another agenda beyond trying to sort out the constructive from the destructive. But by creating a fiercely one-sided case he's not succeeded. He's informed by other one-sided statements; by a prejudicial [lack of] analysis of Corbyn re the IRA, Chakrabarti, the referendum etc; together with a silly 'statement' made by one unnamed, unrepresentative Corbyn supporter which Andreou picks apart in 4 paras. - presumably because he's suggesting that it's something most of us would say. He's wrong. Admissions of undeniable facts: "Labour was in trouble anyway', doesn't render spin elsewhere any more acceptable All of us know Corbyn isn't perfect - if the writer knows supporters who see him as the second coming they are an exception not the rule. But Corbyn is popular. Because he is rare. And he is doing well against enormous odds. And for well rehearsed reasons, there are few other politicians in Westminster who are better equipped to take forwards one of the most important chances to improve the status quo we have seen in generations. He cannot fight the inevitable battles on his own. It's no longer about 2 leaders willy-waving in Parliament. All of us have to fight the crows that land near us. And that's why I challenge Andrea's long statement as an unbalanced analysis which leads to a skewed invalidation of a decent man; to the false conclusion that the Labour Party cannot also be a movement; and the invalidation of hundreds of thousands of us who are described as being 'shaped into an army' and 'violent'. Decide you'd prefer another route. Fine. But lobbing this unsubstantiated insult at us is extraordinarily destructive.

Alex Andreou

3 years ago

You must have missed the one that goes "Keep calm everyone. This lickspittle has to earn his cash and this drivel for his masters is the only way he knows to achieve advancement and money. We are better than his gutter snipe garbage. The fact that he a cowering flea ridden cur licking up the dribbles from Murdoch's loose bowel movements shouldn't concern us." Or the nicely misogynistic one which confides itself to how I look "like an ugly woman". That got a lot of "likes". And then there is the one about me needing "a good slap". Not to mention the comment even below here which describes my concerns about online abuse as "fay". Don't worry though, I have screenshots of all of them. Be well.


3 years ago

Alex - I went to the Facebook group you suggested It has 8,000 members. You say they are ALL 'terribly angry'. They're not. For a start there are 150 comments re your piece - written by an estimated 50 people. These people were energised to different degrees by arguments they disagreed with. We don't know to what extent they were angry. But although I only skimmed I didn't come across anyone who seemed 'terribly angry....' or anyone 'threatening to do violent things'. There were two or three crass comments the rest were wholly acceptable as opinions and some which were particularly reasonable and erudite. A few people being crass out of a pool of 8,000, which is itself only a tiny pool within the larger pool of 1million Corbyn supporters, should not be used as evidence that his supporters are being shaped into a 'violent'... 'army'. I've read some vile threats on Twitter made against Corbyn supporters - but I'd not hasten to tar all his detractors with the same brush. It's a shame you have less self-control.

john riches

3 years ago

I have just had a look at that Facebook group; couldn't see any violent stuff, a few insults yes...I'm not big on Facebook, but doesn't that happen everywhere?

Alex Andreou

3 years ago

I just spent a very enjoyable couple of hours reading through the responses to my piece the "We Trust And Support Jeremy Corbyn's Labour" Facebook group. It has several thousand members, all terribly angry, many threatening to do violent things. I suggest you head over there and have a look. Then maybe it may occur to you that you are the one with the skewed view.

Harry Walker

3 years ago

Great article mate. Sorry about the multitude of comments here that don't nearly do what you've said -- and the amount you've said -- justice at all.

I hope this manages to change at least a few minds.

Jez Tucker

3 years ago

Not good enough. JC was isolated from day one. No leader is an island, they are surrounded by loyal colleagues who carry out 90% of the leader's work in terms of communicating and organising. He was hamstrung the day he won the leadership and left with a very inexperienced core of people willing to carry out his vision. You completely underestimate the hostility of Progress, its connections to the media, and a core of 50ish PLP members determined to make him look the fool. We're all sick and tired of politicians and their games. Play on if you want to.


3 years ago

Alex, I agree with much of this, but there are assertions you make that, like certain propagandists, you can't actually justify.

I speak particularly of electability. The problem here is that anyone who claims that Corbyn is unelectable doesn't know what they are talking about.

And neither does anyone who says he is.

The problem is simple here. The electorate has not been tested on whether Jeremy Corbyn and Jeremy Corbyn's policies can win a general election, and we have never had circumstances quite like these before - thereby making all comparisons with the past worthless.

What this chicken coup is about is stopping the country (England, mostly) from having the opportunity to vote upon anti-austerity policies.

Corbyn's opponents are banging on about his competence rather than his policies. Yet the public see a man standing-up and not giving way, standing by his principles and actually looking much more of a leader than any of his back-stabbing, abstaining opponents do.

And not looking like PR man David Cameron at the Despatch Box is a plus, in many people's eyes.

The House of Commons; now there's an echo chamber. Who seriously believes that when The Tories find something funny (in orchestrated unison) that the country does also?

So, even if you are right, the perception of Jeremy Corbyn is very much the opposite for many.

Furthermore, there is no one coming forward saying that they are a better leader than Corbyn, whilst agreeing with him politically, and having a history of doing so to back the claim up with (which rules out Owen Smith).

So like it or not, whether Jeremy Corbyn is a good leader or not, The Labour Party has left itself with no viable alternative for Labour supporters, let alone the electorate.

What we do know is that times have changed substantially since the last pre-Blair Labour Government of the 1970s.

The Communist Bloc no longer exists and Germany has reunified, so there is no imminent threat of nuclear war, unless we and NATO poke the bear.

We have mobile phones and social media, and whilst, yes, that leads to echo chambers, it still means people talk more and about more to each other, and more easily than they used to. Just because people don't chinwag across the garden fence as much as they used to, doesn't mean they don't chinwag (for that final chinwag, also read "text", "tweet" or "post").

We have cable and satellite TV instead of the three channels we had in 1979. We now realise more about media bias because we see other foreign based channels. We see reports we didn't see before, how they are being reported and how well or how badly others (than the BBC or ITV) do them. Consequently we have a different view and awareness of our own mainstream media.

Most of all, since then we have had Thatcherism, Blairism, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, waged to destroy an enemy that was finally found in Pakistan.

And we have had a massive financial crash, caused by banks, and being paid for by the populace, through austerity.

When you consider the intervening years this way, then making comparisons with how Jeremy Corbyn and his anti-austerity stance will do, following from all that, instead of just comparing the current Labour Party to how it was in 1983 (and conveniently forgetting the jingoism created by The Falklands War, that helped re-elect Thatcher), then there is no comparison to make, because nonesuch exists.

But...common sense suggests that the conditions for such policies are more favourable than they ever have been.

The problem then lies with putting the message out and with a hostile media, which includes BBC News. And this is where the damage is really being done by the PLP.

At a time when it could have made a tremendous impact against The Tories, when the Tories had nothing to say, because they were caught completely unprepared, as they were reeling from the impact of the Brexit vote, the PLP chose instead to attack inwards.

Serious face-palm moment.

The PLP's apparent plan is to keep the party at war with itself, make it unelectable in the process by turning off anyone who isn't a staunch Labour supporter (and some who are), then blame Jeremy Corbyn and his policies for it - so that they can soldier on and do as they see fit, not what the member or supporters, or perhaps even the country wants.

The PLP is clearly not politically representative of its own party membership, (let alone the electorate - do remember how well it did at GE2015), when Jeremy Corbyn is. This whole matter smacks of political elitism. 'We know better, you don't'.

Something has to give. Does the PLP seriously believe it isn't that they need to change or go, but that its own members need to change, and go with PLP austerity lite, that lost it the 2015 General Election and led to the almost total wipe-out in Scotland?

And as for Scotland, your short reference to them belies the fact that this is a country that was offered an anti-austerity vote at GE2015 - by the SNP, not Scottish Labour (a choice not available in England).

On top of Labour Party members sharing platforms with The Tories during the Indyref campaign, this led to a massive loss of Labour voters to the SNP.

Anti-austerity wins votes: QED.

And yet you criticise Corbyn for not sharing a platform with Tory Remain campaigners. Another face-palm.

You make many valid points, but your reasoning for your decision still comes across as someone with his head at least partially in the sand and weak-willed enough to fall for the drip-drip-drip propaganda.

Because as honest as your account of how you feel is, your comments are actually unhelpful and tactless.

In case you haven't noticed, there is a war going on. What is needed is solidarity. You are entitled to your view, but you need to choose a side.

Win the war first, get those policies in play first, against those who would prefer them not to be put up for voting upon, because what they really fear is that people will vote for them, thereby showing their own policies-up as utter failures.

What you should be doing is fighting for Corbyn and addressing the more aesthetic concerns you have for afterwards - for they won't matter if Corbyn loses the leadership contest.

Rory Merton

3 years ago

You think Corbyn is electable?

1. He's 14% behind in the polls.

2. 1 in 3 of 2015 Lab voters, that's 3m people, prefer Theresa May to Jeremy. Yup. Read that again. 1/3rd of the people who voted for us last time prefer May to JC. As Alex said, May has completely changed the situation. We were 5% behind (or 4% pre-coup.) We're now 14% behind (not an outlier, the average of the last 3 polls.) Because 1/3rd of our voters prefer May to JC.

3. No leader has ever become PM when they are not trusted on the econ or not seen as a potential PM by the public as a whole. Jeremy is hugely behind on both metrics.

4. 4m of our own voters from 2015 don't trust him on the econ. {Never mind the rest of the country}

5. The more left wing our leader is seen as, the worse we do in elections.
Jeremy is seen as by far the most left wing leader since this data started in 2002.

{On a scale of 0-10, from left to right, Blair was just over 5 and won landslides. Brown was 3.5 and the Tories won a minority govt. Ed M was seen as 2.5 and the Tories won a majority. Jeremy is seen as 1, so is heading for electoral oblivion.}

6. Only 66% of the country think the party will still be a major force in 10 years time, compared with 82% in Feb 2015. For the Tories the figures are 83% then and 80% now.

{So throughout history, 4/5 of the public has always assumed that the Tories and Lab would still be major forces in 10 yrs time. While this is still true of the Tories, we have now fallen seriously behind them since Jeremy became leader. So the general public can see that we are risking the very future of the party by keeping him as leader, even if Momentum can't.}

7. The views of Corbyn supporters are radically different from normal Lab party members.

Approximately they are twice as extreme as our core voters, 3x as extreme as our weak voters, and 4x as extreme as our potential voters.

8. To win a GE, we need to keep all the voters we have and get half of the potential voters to switch to us from other parties. The data above suggests this will be difficult.

9. Or another way of putting it. We need to keep the 9m voters we have and get 1m of the Tory voters to switch to us. Yet only 2% of people who voted Tory last time prefer JC to May while 33% of people who voted for us last time prefer May to JC - that's 3m votes lost.

10. full figures for people who voted Lab in 2015
38% prefer Jeremy to May
33% prefer May to Jeremy
30% don't know or are undecided.

Think about that. We need to get a lot more voters as well as keeping the ones we have.

Yet only 38% of our voters actually like Jeremy more than May.

How much more evidence do you want? {I can provide sources for all of these figures.} He clearly can't win. So please realise that if you vote for Jeremy you are not voting for socialism. You are voting for Tory rule.

The data clearly shows that a vote for Jeremy is a vote for the Tories.

Alex Andreou

3 years ago

Thank you for your comment. I have chosen a side. What you seem to be unable or unwilling to reconcile is that I may be on the same side politically, but disagree about personnel and strategy. It is because I care for this political struggle that I have written this. Ride into this battle on the back of a donkey, believing he is a white steed, if you want. But all it will achieve is to make leftist politics a cautionary tale and a joke for decades to come.


3 years ago

This is exactly 100% right, and I truly despair at anyone who believes in anti-austerity and/or democratic socialism who then chooses to denigrate Corbyn over what are nitty gritty things that can be ironed out later, or improve with a different leader. The main hurdle, the ONLY hurdle we should be concentrating on, is ensuring the electorate have a real choice at the next election, a chance to reject neoliberalism and move the country in a different, better direction.

If we don't seize the opportunity now, no matter how imperfect Corbyn might seem, then we really are dooming ourselves.

john youssef

3 years ago

JC is on a winning streak: 17 million new voters now got to favourably listen to him, and to take a positive note of his messages. Also with his article in the Sunday Telegraph today, plus successful campaign in Cornwall yesterday, and it all adds up to help JC for PM .. keep going 'Team-Drop-Outs' .. you're doing a great job ...

Briv Paul

3 years ago

Yes Im sure your Twitter feed echoes with this nonsense He can't debate in the House of Commons He can't organise an opposition He's a liability with the stuff he says . Yet you think he could be this country's PM ! U know what his answer is to the Immigration question that won't go away just cos Labour don't want to talk about it It's The EU workers posted directive FGS The EU workers posted directive SMFH

john youssef

3 years ago

Moreover: The Brexit blame game will only get JC to be positively noticed by another 17million NEW voters to be added to his kitty! hahaha ... good one from all of you who will try to bring JC down, but as it seems now; the chackles are tied to your ankles ... hehehehehe

john youssef

3 years ago

What I like about this is the assurance of competence. As if there is competence galore everywhere, but not with JC!?
- The whole country jumped out of the EU aeroplane without parachute
- Troops were sent to Iraq without protection
- Tories have divided the country in half
- PLP COUP without competence
- Government that is in the bunkers, and when they come out in Sep they'll find they will need to plough a waste land
- Labout that has lost election .. after election
On the other hand, JC has managed to topple the attempted coup, and to go on to assemble a very effective leadership campaign, AND to plan it as a pre-election strike on the Tories, with 500 thousand dedicated followers .. and He's the only man standing ..
Can you see any of that? or is there another aspect to competent denials??

Tony Hopkinson

3 years ago

Honestly put, given your biases. I'm still rolling about after being accused of being a blairite on the twattershpere, was nearly as funny as being called a demented racist due to my position on Brexit. Identity politics and unquestioned dogma are rife.

Elizabeth McAteer

3 years ago

The truth about Jeremy Corbyn. I come from Liverpool and have seen a headline that proclaimed the truth about us. Whilst not putting you in the same bracket as McKenzie, what I know is that truth is not just a matter of assembling facts, figures, stories and other supporting 'evidence'. People believe their own truths and argue for them. So here's mine. I still believe in Corbyn. I don't think he always gets it right and his lack of front bench experience shows. This of course could have been remedied by those with experience coalescing around him after he won the vote. They chose not to and I have never seen such an attack dished out to a labour leader in all my time supporting the Labour Party. The idea that this man is the most imperfect person to occupy that position beggars belief. One only has to look down the list of whose been there before to know that. Polling against May is not favourable, well that's the polls now. Her performance against him, the 'remind you of anybody' certainly struck home here. It reminded people in Liverpool of Thatcher, who set us on a road of 'managed decline'. That it was seen as a success in the press was laughable. Corbyn is talked about as extreme left. Really? Most politicians think they are occupying the centre right. Well the centre has moved so far to the right that they appear to be the extreme. There's a song we sing here, mostly at football matches and there's a line, 'with hope in your heart'. Well Jeremy Corbyn offers that hope. To people who can't make their wages meet their outgoings. Who can't find a decent home. Who are afraid when they are ill or unemployed. Who are sanctioned and are left without money. Who starve unless they get fed by foodbanks. Who don't understand why labour MP's abstain on punitive measures in Tory legislation like the welfare bill. Why they vote to bomb countries and what the impact of those votes will be on all members of communities that feel vulnerable. Corbyn is a man who can motivate people to come out and listen, partake, feel energised and join in. He gives them, us, hope in their hearts so that they never feel they are walking alone.

Alice Cameron

3 years ago

When you write a post about someone, it is disingenuous to distort what they have said to try to add weight to your points. You are aware where you have done this on multiple occasions, and also used heavily suggestive but misleading lead ins to articles you have attached in evidence. You also imply that you were heavily in favour of Corbyn to begin with, but state your reason as "Fuck it. If none of them can reach out to the wider electorate, I might as well vote for the one whose politics most closely align with mine."
You also seem to have grouped all Corbyn supporters on the basis of those who have trolled you. In doing all these things you have virtually negated any possibility of changing anyone's mind as you have lost any credibility.

David D

3 years ago

I think yours, Owen Jones's and Richard Murphy's problem with 'the Corbyn thing' comes from the fact that you aren't socialists, but social democrats. Social Democrats see taking office as the primary path to progress. Socialists see radical popular movement-building as the first, second, third and fourth task, because the ultimate goal is socialist revolution and you can't create socialism through a state. It has to be done by the people in a bottom up revolution. So winning government office isn't much of a concern. We can more or less take it or leave it. It might be nice if it helps build the movement and we can put in place some social democrat policies. but it's not in the top four aims, as mentioned above.

Corbyn seems to be sort of bowing to the revolutionary strategy, even though I think he's a social democrat too. I personally don't think hi-jacking the labour party was the best vehicle for this anti-capitalist movement building, so haven't really been involved, but it is OK as a stop gap for anti-capitalists until we can create something better.

I also think you miss something productive that 'the Corbyn thing' is doing for you social democrats: shifting the terms of debate to the left. You don't need to win elections to be powerful. Look at Farage and UKIP. They got Britain out of Europe without holding office, but by shifting the terms of debate on the EU and immigration. By shifting the terms of debate to the left, Corbyn is having a big impact. Owen Smith is now the only opponent of Corbyn for Labour leadership, and he is promising a £200bn new deal investment program. The right of the Labour party is on the back foot, and might be deselected en masse. It could be argued that this leftist shift of the debate is also behind the Blarites and Tories opposing some of the most extreme pro-rich policies.

Whilst you favour compromise, *polarisation* may actually be actually more helpful to social democrats. There is some research on this I could link. With more radical leftist statements, actions etc, the wider population have to think about things, make a decision and take a stance rather than ignore the issues and go along with the status quo (which is usually gradually shifting to the right). Polarising people left or right forces the Tories to have to think about strong opposition which they don't normally have to, so may stop them from trampling over the passive, weak Labour party as usual. So by turning Labour into an anti-capitalist movement, it may be the best way to promote social democracy in the short term.

My personal worry with Corbyn and maybe even McDonnell is that they seem potentially too prepared to compromise. I also agree with Richard Murphy and Owen Jones to some extent that they should probably more clearly set out a radical (far more radical than Murphy's) provisional economic plan. But in general I think they're doing OK from what little attention I've paid. The mainstream media and most of the PLP Labour party seem to hate them which is a good sign. McDonnell's a hero if he's responsible for getting the Blarites and more centrist-inclined MPs out of the party.

Sorry mate. We've got different aims. You're a social democrat. I'm a socialist. So we'll disagree on the Labour Party.

Alan Lockey

3 years ago

Max Max Max beat me too it. Clause One. Labour is a party which believe in parliamentary democracy. That's what it means by its democratic socialism. At all parts in its constitution this element comes before the socialist part. That doesn't mean what you say is necessarily incorrect vis a vis socialism and what it should encompass. You may view, like Ralph Miliband, the parliamentary route to socialism to be total bunkum. But Labour is not a popular front style organisation, never has been, and Corbyn has no mandate to change the party's constitution. He has not, unlike Tony Blair with Clause IV, sought one through the proper channels at a full party conference.

So you're right about the different aims. But yours is incompatible with the history, traditions and values of the Labour Party.

Max MaxMax

3 years ago

Labour Party Constitutional Rules, Clause 1: "This organisation shall be known as ‘The Labour Party’ (hereinafter referred to as ‘the party’). Its purpose is to organise and maintain in Parliament and in the country a political Labour Party."

If JC's aim isn't to fulfill the main stated purpose of the organisation that he's leading then he is leading the wrong organisation. Popular movements working towards a socialist revolution and social democratic political parties fighting for control of government need not be mutually exclusive. It's possible to have both but it's clear that the purpose of the labour party is the latter.

Alex Andreou

3 years ago

I agree with much of your analysis, although I don't agree with your optimism about its potential effect. Shifting the Overton window to the left (to any direction) absolutely depends on a chain of credibility. If Corbyn were in charge of a smaller party to the left of Labour (like Linke in Germany, for instance) then, yes, the threat of taking votes away with his policies would force that more centre-left party to shift and have a chain effect. If he simply decides to pick up the centre-left party and move it a mile, leaving a gaping hole, if the Tories feel Labour is not a credible electoral threat, then all Theresa May has to do is make tiny concessions towards the centre, and serious ones to her right, where she is still more vulnerable and she will win by a landslide.

My second, possibly more important, point is that I don't think Corbyn is entirely honest about what he is doing. He keeps saying we will do X when we are government, we will do Y when we win an election. If this isn't his aim, then he is the most dishonest politician around.

Sidia Dunn

3 years ago

I read the comments to see who has had their mind changed by this article - mostly this doesn't appear to happen, you either already agreed or didn't and it probably remains the same. I am still incredulous that Corbyn is blamed for "Brexit" - but I'll wait for those who will state - "I wouldn't have voted Leave if Corbyn had been more of a voice for stay".

Ayo Adebiyi

3 years ago

Thanks for writing this Alex. You articulate much more competently than me what I feel (though I didn't vote for Corbyn last year as I could foresee this disaster). I've witnessed the insults you've received on Twitter for daring to put your head above the parapet and am not surprised you've had enough. When it does all go ti*s-up, which it surely will, at least you did your best to inject some sanity and reason into this debate. "Competence is a bourgeois conceit"?!? Oh my days!!!

Phil Smith

3 years ago

This article is so confused and bitter it amounts to an emotional reaction with an intellectual expression .. A mind that cannot see the wholeness thrashing around casting deluded opinions based on misunderstood reality .. Someone needs a holiday ........ Any words after this sentence are irrelavent and a result of this crappy little column to write in where we can't see more than 4 or five words, can't edit, can't see our mistakes etc .. On my phone that is.

Matt Bradshaw

3 years ago

Having read your opinion piece the thing I guess for me, as a long time Labour member who supports the way Jeremy Corbyn is taking the party, is that I've seen so many opinion pieces that seem on the surface to be about a serious, thoughtful inner struggle from someone who once supported Jeremy, but when you actually get down to the nitty gritty they just follow a well worn path of using all the same old links and supposed truths from those that oppose Jeremy as leader and want business as usual...

When you quote opinion pieces,, when you quote MP's and when you quote polls in a way of proving your points then I feel a little sad because these things are not truths...When you also quote things from the media that HAVE been proved to be untrue, then your argument sort of loses any real point. Many of us in the party are voting for Jeremy because for years and years Labour (even when in power) simply didn't work for people like me (someone who earns £16,000 a year)...The short-term thinking, the expenses scandals, they way MP's and councillors have favoured themselves over their constituents has been PROVEN time and time again and you don't even have to be a regular reader of the Private Eye to see this, these are mainstream facts....Add to that the way in which members like me, and supporters of the way the party is going are being monstered and basically robbed of our democracy (yet again I might add since we've had YEARS of not being able to put the MP's that WE support forward or even our idea's)...On top of that add the way that certain parts of the party are using some downright disgusting tactics and companies who are beyond the shade when it comes to spin to basically use ANYTHING to attack Jeremy (even the appointment of Shami Chakrabarti to the honours list has been used to try and attack him and the same old vested interests are behind this 'story' of apparently 'buying' the report on anti-semitism...a report that as everybody knows came about from yet more smears about Jeremy)...The really simple point that you're missing is that Labour lost so much fantastic political support and so many members because the Party shifted into a place that most of us didn't have a voice or say on it's policies nor it's dirty dealings (PFI, The War, Letting PwC write it's tax polices, inviting in Private Companies to basically get rich from contracts that MP's had been bribed (sorry Lobbied) to take, destroying small businesses and therefore wages and working conditions by letting supermarkets and online companies buy their way into MP's hearts and wallets...etc etc). Now that balance is finally getting redressed (It's no big shock that the whole coup is happening when Jeremy Corbyn is putting forward a change that would require MP's and COUNCILLORS to be more accountable to their constituents AND also a vote to sayt that any MP or Councillor cannot accept money from private companies (either by being on their boards or accepting offices, freebies etc etc) because it would be a 'conflict of interest'. THAT is why this battle is going on, simply because the money machine that has grown and grown to include PR companies, stylists, consulants and private companies and has benefited so many at the top of the party is at risk....And they're throwing their considerable weight behind keeping 'business' as usual. It's not just me who thinks this way, it's also the majority of the people who take an interest in politics...It's a FACT not an opinion that all our lives, and this society has been affected dreadfully by what's happened in the last 40 years (and this again is backed up with facts about wealth, poverty, education, the destruction of shared spaces, the destruction of the enviroment et al) and I don't really buy the argument proposed by vested interests and their backers that 'we never had it so good'....
If you chose to go along with the same played out arguments about why Jeremy Corbyn is incompetent then ask yourself by who's standard? How about that he's somehow corrupt and vain (which is pretty riduculous to be honest)..By who's standard? How about the polls....Whether you think they've been particularly accurate recently (the referendum, the election), who are they asking? I simply ask you this...Do you think Labour and the values and policies that are being put forward would turn off the electorate? Or do you think they're more in tune with what the ordinary electorate thinks and feels?

Chris Osborne

3 years ago

Matt, I completely agree with every single word you wrote. I live in a working class town in the North. We along with others have been exposed to the harsh depravity of the Tory economic miracle in a way that most Londoners could never imagine. Our own MP is a Smith supporter and the local CLP voted (once opposition voters were weeded out) to support Owen Smith. Jeremy Corbyn is not perfect, not by a long way, but his performance so far carried real substance, his lack of disposable soundbites at PMQ's serves only to show the real strength of his policies. I'm not convinced that he will achieve his objectives there are too many forces railed against him, but he has reintroduced humanity, social justice and the desire for a fairer society into the political lexicon. Historically I think his major accomplishment will be that he opened the door for others to follow. It is imperative that the party supports Corbyn and that they do not allow the door to be slammed in his face by careerists clinging on to their seat on the gravy train with the finger strength of a rock climbing jazz pianist. Once this door slams it will be nailed shut and will never again reopen. That would be the end for towns like mine.

Helen Heenan

3 years ago

Hello Alex, my first time here, redirected from Richard Murphy's blog. Others have expressed below the many good reasons why I think you have got this wrong, despite your obvious sincerity. I won't therefore go into huge detail as a way of trying to rebut your arguments. Danny Lynch has done that well just 30 minutes ago.

Instead just two points:

First, as a matter of your credibility:

"When the decision was made – 18 in favour to 14 against – Corbyn, couldn't wait to go outside and speak to the assembled press. No, not speak. Crow. Anyone who believes Corbyn is not a vain man, should watch this three-minute press call."

Really? I watched it, and did not see any crowing or vanity. I didn't see any "couldn't wait to go and speak to the assembled press". The press were waiting for him, he spoke to them and answered their questions reasonably and politely. Why do you see this in such a negative frame? why do I not?

So that leads me to my second point. I accept that many people like you and Richard Murphy can no longer tolerate the idea of JC leading the Labour Party. And I admit I am disappointed in you both. Why? Because I don't think you really understand what is going in the heads of Corbyn supporters like me. I don't think you feel the sea change that is happening out here in the constiutencies. I don't think you understand the historic changes we are seeing globally in the political arena. You are trying to analyse the present state of flux in the context of your previous experience. That won't work anymore. Paul Mason has the idea - he senses the change, and is trying to understand and explain it.

And finally - Owen Smith. In what way is he a solution to any of the problems the Labour Party faces?

Danny Lynch

3 years ago

Hi, I tried reading your column objectively but after the inaccuracies of the IRA violence and Iranian TV, then saying he lead a half hearted campaign on the EU referendum I stopped reading. I'm a afraid you can't point out, rightly, that the media have inaccurately savaged him, then go right ahead and repeat the same inaccuracies as reasons you now don't support him. The IRA and Iranian TV stories have been researched thoroughly (I don't no anything about homeopathy so can't comment) and disproved by a very good, independent, investigative journalist in Luke Davies. Also you talk about the EU debate. I can't believe this is still a narrative being peddled after the Loughborough university researched appearances and workloads of all the candidates on both sides of the debate and Corbyn ranked 3rd in appearances overall. Nigel Farage was 7th. And if that surprises you then the obvious conclusion is the media gave Corbyn no coverage and Farage loads. I also have Corbyn on Snapchat and he was out pretty much everyday giving speeches and knocking doors. Angela Eagle even gave her glowing praise of Corbyns workload saying a 23 year old doing his job would struggle, Until she decided to resign and seemingly take it all back once it suited her leadership bid. His constituency also had one of the biggest percentages of remain voters in the country, and also the Labour Party as a whole voted to remain. No one seems to be talking about the Tory donor funded "Labour Leave" campaign? I'm not deluded enough to believe Corbyn can storm to electoral victory tomorrow. My personal view would be to go forward on Corbyns vision but before the next election he steps down and someone like Clive Lewis takes his place. But I will not vote for a candidate who was an ex-big pharma lobbyist for a company that has ripped the NHS off for millions. A guy that attends arm trades functions. A guy that has advocated PFIs and more privatisation on the NHS. A guy that said austerity is right on Marr a few weeks ago. A man that abstained on welfare cuts because he was worried what the right wing media would say. You may say you shouldn't savage him over something he said or did in his past but the above actions paint a particular picture of a man that could be Tony Blairs twin brother. I managed to convince two Sun reading, Tory voters who aren't that interested in politics to vote for Corbyns Labour. You know how I did it? By distancing Corbyn from Tony Blairs Labour as much as possible. That's tells a story on its own.

Hester Tamorand

3 years ago

Stop crying and find another cause to bluster about. Democracy is the only issue here! Not perceptions, not rules invented for the continuation of the comfy 'status quo' despite an absolute landslide of hostility against them (which I have to point out, is still being largely denied / ignored) We shall see what happens to errant members of the PLP, they only remain as PLP as long as they are supported by CLP's. Let's see if Jeremy loses the next election? then you can crow. Proper left wing Politics for Proper left wing People is what has fired me up and hundreds of thousands of others fed up with shoddy rules, shoddy conventions, chumocracy, hands in the till, old boys network, Eaton-tastic career plans, scamarrazzi, nominal directorships, back- handers for this and that, cronyism, the milieu of power and influence. There is such as thing as the 'Mordant Powerhouse'. We see what we dislike intensely and we are clear and focussed about what we want to achieve. For us, Jeremy an essential prerequisite.

john youssef

3 years ago

What I like about this is the assurance of competence. As if there is competence galore evrywher, but not with JC!?
- The whole country jumped out of the EU aeroplane without parachute
- Troops were sent to Iraq without protection
- Tories have divided the country in half
- PLP COUP without competence
- Government that is in the bunkers, and when they come out in Sep they'll find they will need to plough a waste land
- Labout that has lost election .. after election
On the other hand, JC has managed to topple the attempted coup, and to go on to assemble a very effective leadership campaign, AND to plan it as a pre-election strike on the Tories, with 500 thousand dedicated followers .. and He's the only man standing ..
Can you see any of that? or is there another aspect to competent denials??


3 years ago

500,000 Labour members, by no means all of whom support Corbyn.

Ross Evams

3 years ago

That's quite the Cassandra complex you're sporting there, complete with the obligatory and ever so fay notification that Twitter activities will be suspended.

As to this bloviating article, it's a regurgitation of the same white noise which surfaced around the time of the leadership coup attempt, a confabulation which the Blairite plotters are trying very hard to enter into the public consciousness in their bid to foist another empty suit upon the party.

Rory Merton

3 years ago

Do you realise that Corbyn cannot win an election? If we can't get the Tories out, what is the point? Other than using his increased media profile to benefit the causes for which he speaks? Destroying us a as a party og govt just to make us a louder pressure group for his per issues. Disgusting.

Alex Andreou

3 years ago

Thank you for conclusively proving that the worrying mentality I have described is simply not present by calling my "bloviating article" part of a Blairite plot and a Cassandra complex and responding to my taking a break from Twitter because of all the negativity by calling me "fay". I hope many read your response.


3 years ago

Thank you Alex for this article. You've managed to say everything I've been bottling up for months. It's the incompetence that really gets to me. Mistake after mistake is made and his supporters bat them away as nothing. The thing that bothers me the most though, is the insistence by Corbyn supporters that he is a 'straight talking ordinary man' How far from the truth can that be? Every answer he gives, is an obfuscatory exercise. Meaning is lost in the midst of sentences packed with qualifications and rhetoric. Who talks like this? No-one, except hard left wing politicians who have spent a lifetime talking to audiences who are ready to pounce for any deviation from the politically pure "position". I have never voted anything other than Labour in over 40 years....but no more. To me, he has become the facsimile of Trump. A vain but deeply insecure man who is clearly out of his depth, but is hooked on the adulation. A terrible terrible time for Labour.


3 years ago

Thank you for this piece. As an ordinary member of the public who does not live and breathe politics, I have been struggling to understand what is so self-evidently horrible about Corbyn that it doesn't need saying. You have given me an insight into this. I don't agree with your conclusions, largely for the reasons eloquently set out by JeopardyLeyton. I think this Corbyn thing needs to be followed through on. We need to have the courage of our convictions and not lose our nerve. This is a creative, collaborative process. Critics are asking Corbyn to be something he is not and does not need to be. I think the PLP can learn to share this collaborative process and accept a kind of leadership they are simply not used to and frankly just don't believe is possible. One that will bring out their own diverse talents and strengthen the Party and the cause and greatly benefit a majority of voters in the UK.

Rhys Morgan

3 years ago

Please, read the articles from shadow cabinet members. It’s not about a “leadership they are simply not used to and frankly just don’t believe is possible”. He is - in every way - incompetent.

If something or someone is leading us to certain electoral doom, as Corbyn is, we shouldn’t follow through with it. We should do our damned best to remedy that. In the case of Corbyn, that means ousting him as leader.


3 years ago

Thank you. Reading this has unleashed the knot of fury and despair that I have been keeping knotted up in my sternum so tightly that I feel it physically tug with each passing day in this Labour party nightmare. Seeing the rise of Corbyn and his followers in the past year and then the aftermath of Brexit is a truly dystopian vision of the next few years. Long live the resistance.


3 years ago

Thank you Alex for your clarity and courage, and thank you borakwon for putting into words that which I have been struggling to articulate. Long live the resistance indeed.


3 years ago

I understand all your points and criticisms, as I have the criticisms of others about Corbyn. I don't see what you see with regard to Corbyn's supporters, and perhaps that's because your experience of them is largely through Twitter, which may give a skewed impression.

But anyway, I am certainly not in denial, nor a cultist, nor do I think Corbyn is a Messianic figure or anything. But I do think he is our only chance to make desperately needed changes in this country. It is clear that Owen Smith has no intention of pursuing any of the policies he has put forward throughout the campaign, should he win the leadership election. The MP Frank Field said this in an interview, and it's also clear that those MPs behind the coup would not endorse those policies. And I don't see how that could possibly be somebody to endorse and vote for.

The point being, there isn't anybody else at the moment. Even if Corbyn is incompetent, he still has the right policies, the right vision, and is able to galvanise support- the hundreds of thousands joining Labour aren't people who 'agree with him anyway' they are people who were inspired by what he was saying and saw an opportunity for something better. But it's not about Corbyn, it's about overthrowing neoliberalism, it's about saving us - from war, from poverty, from environmental disaster as the impacts of climate change are already being felt - it's about saying that we cannot continue putting profit over and above everything else, because it will destroy us, quite literally. And we have to act on this NOW. Not in 10 years, not in 20 years, now.

But it seems like everybody is getting caught up in things that don't matter - the way he dresses, his beard, with day after day little smear after little smear, most of which turn out to be completely untrue, yet the media refuse to print corrections. Even your claim that he went on holiday during the referendum campaign is a lie, he travelled down to Cornwall to speak there and spent the night somewhere with his wife. He spoke 120 times over the campaign, far more than any other Labour MP, but of course the media were not keen on covering him. The media bias against him, and not just bias and distortion, but the propagation of outright lies, has I suspect a lot to do with the perception of Corbyn supporters as in denial or as overly defensive etc.

Myself I would not have believed of UK politicians and the UK media what I've discovered the past few months. I didn't even know of Corbyn's existence until the referendum, because after the Tories won a majority in May 2015 I shut myself off from watching news or reading about politics because I felt it was detrimental to my mental health. So I came to Corbyn without knowing anything about the leadership election or his politics etc. I thought he was incredibly refreshing in the referendum campaign, because he didn't buy into the 'you have to pick a position and defend it vociferously, as though your life depended on your being 150% convinced this is the only choice' style of campaigning the other lot were up to, with all the lies and distortions. He also positioned himself in such a way that he was inoffensive to both Remainers and Leavers, he could see the point of view of everybody and that I thought was enormously important to have in a leading politician given the result was so split down the middle.

I also disagree with this idea that Corbyn and team don't want Labour to be in power, and just want an ideologically pure protest party - that is not what I have heard at all, I have heard about the importance of democracy and taking into consideration all ideas, suggestions and viewpoints, I have heard about the importance of getting into government to enact changes, and how the right wing bias of the UK media will make it difficult for policies like Corbyn's to make it, so there has to be a social movement, where we don't rely on media but on word of mouth, on being active in our communities, by showing people face to face what it will mean to have a democratic socialist government (Corbyn is democratic socialist, I am not sure why you think he is authoritarian?) The movement isn't intended as a replacement for the party, it's intended as a vehicle to enable the party to win an election - I don't get how so many commentators seem to have missed that or are unable to understand it.

More than anything, the past couple of months have shown me, and I think many others as well, just how corrupt our country is in a very stark way. The referendum campaign was a farce, everything since has been a farce. And what happened to Corbyn and his supporters was mind boggling to me, as well as terrifying. To see it written in all the papers, lies about a meeting you attended, people who are meant to be respectable just outright lying, and the papers and the BBC ignoring all the letters and emails explaining what actually happened, including video evidence etc. It destabilises everything you thought you knew about where you live and how it all works.

And that's another reason it feels so important that Corbyn wins, even if he isn't perfect, even if he makes mistakes - if we don't have a change now, when will we next get a chance? A chance to move away from neoliberalism, away from the corporate hegemony? We are fast tumbling into something truly horrible, a world where All is Fair in Profit and War, where our wages and rights are slashed so that we can compete with China, where we don't have the funds to access legal help or decent healthcare, where we are monitored online for 'non-violent extremist' views. We are so close to this, but too many people seem oblivious, or too certain that it could never happen here. It's already happening! Little by little it's been happening for a while, and every step of the way there have been people warning about the slippery slope and the 'thin end of the wedge.' These things do happen, atrocities do happen, governments are cruel. We are not exempt. Already disabled people are DYING after being declared fit to work and forced to work. The UN has condemned our government for human rights abuses due to the way they have enacted their welfare policies. Did you even read about that report in the media? It was published in only two mainstream outlets, the Independent and the New Statesman.

Our government is okay with this, with people dying because they are disabled. This is horrific. Don't you think even 20 years ago that would have been an enormous scandal disgusting enough to maybe even bring down a government? The fact that it goes almost unnoticed, or just another 'Oh dear' people add on to their long list of things to sigh about, but that they ultimately have no control over and no responsibility for.

We do have control and responsibility, we still do - Corbyn doesn't have to end up being Prime Minister if he keeps making mistakes, someone else with the same policies can, or he can get a good advisor or go on some training or something! It is worth having him because his policies are right and whatever you think of him, he is honest. Look at his record, there isn't anything dishonest about it. You said he lied about being ahead in the polls in May, they were ahead at the end of April so I don't think it was a deliberate lie so much as not remembering the month. Whatever you think of his competence, he wouldn't ignore a report from the UN saying his government was abusing human rights, he wouldn't ignore the fact that women are being repeatedly raped and abused at a detention centre. He doesn't even slag anyone off!

I think we need to get behind him, not because of HIM, but because of the ideas he represents, because we have to reject what our country is becoming. I found it really summed up what has become of the UK in the reaction to Theresa May's first PMQs, where Corbyn remained calm and asked important questions of her, questions she didn't answer, choosing instead to just smirk and insult him. For some reason, the fact that he didn't respond in kind was seen almost universally as a failure, and May's infantile jibes were somehow depicted as a glorious display of Prime Ministerial prowess. I thought, god is this what we have become? The fact that you seem to have taken on this view of that exchange yourself makes me feel less inclined to trust that your feelings on all of this aren't under the influence of this strange psychological phenomenon of a society-wide cognitive filter through which our value judgements pass, turning decency incapable and malevolence august.

Rory Merton

3 years ago

"But I do think he is our only chance to make desperately needed changes in this country." But he can't win an election. That's the simple reality. Ignore all the evidence if you like but that's the way it is.

1. He's 14% behind May and 29-33% of 2015 Lab voters prefer her to Jeremy. So sticking with Jeremy guarantees electoral oblivion.

2. No opposition leader has ever become PM if they are:
a. Not trusted on the economy.
b. Not seen as PM material.
Jeremy is well behind on both. {This explains the shy Tory votes not picked up by the polls in 1992 and 2015. Kinnock and Ed M were behind on both, that's why they didn't win.} So sticking with Jeremy guarantees electoral oblivion.

3. He has the lowest approval rating for an opposition leader in history at -41.
So sticking with Jeremy guarantees electoral oblivion.

Why do you want to keep the Tories in power just to feel ideologically pure?

Winning an election requires building a large enough coalition of voters and this requires compromise. Always has done and always will.

And as I say, no leader has ever won when they don't look like a PM and aren't trusted on the econ. This is an undeniable fact.

The most recent data I found showed that 4m of the people who voted Lab in 2015 don't trust him on the econ. And nothing suggests he will turn this around. Just like he's never going to suddenly look like a world leader after all these years.

Accept reality. He will never have enough support in this country to win.

Therefore Jezza, and his supporters like you, are keeping the Tories in power. Sorry, but that's just the way it is.

Alex Andreou

3 years ago

Dear friend,

Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed response. There is much in it with which I agree. There is much in it also, however, which confirms some of the traits I have described. The reasons you give in your last four paragraphs, for instance, about the rise of neoliberalism, the sacrifice of people for profit and so on, are thing I have been writing on and campaigning against for longer than I care to remember. But they are veiled in precisely the same denialism I described.

How do we go from Corbyn winning this leadership election to him being in a position to implement this much needed change? This is the bit of the rationale always missing. And that is because it doesn't exist. The support is simply not out there. It's all very well distrusting everything coming out of what you see as "the establishment", but where is the contrary evidence? Where is a poll commissioned by Momentum or Corbyn's campaign which shows that, actually, he is vastly popular with the electorate and on course to win power? There isn't one. I just don't see how your passion and desperation for this change translates into actual change. I don't see how you can ignore other replies to my article which insult me, call me names and make quite clear that, actually, it IS all about Corbyn.

On the issue of his holiday, I have seen the rebuttal going around, but he was criticised at the time for taking five days off and said nothing. His own press office has since confirmed that he "took a long weekend" so, clearly it wasn't just a night in Cornwall. In any case, this was just a small element of my disappointment. The contrast couldn't be starker with his current campaign to save his own job. His Twitter and Facebook feeds are plastered with photos of squares full of people and video clips of inspirational speeches. Show me a few from his EUref campaign. Show me a photo of him speaking to 5,000 people in Liverpool about the issue that really mattered to the country, or a video of him in a theatre packed to the rafters. Show me the queues for that. They don't exist.

The fact that he can attract such crowds and make such speeches does nothing but confirm my suspicion that he simply didn't try before.

One final, small but important point. You say don't trust the media, but assert something supposedly said by Frank Field, based on a five-second clip of a BBC interview. Here is a fuller extract:

As you will see, Field is responding to questions about how he can justify voting for Smith, as a Brexiter and he says that he believes on the issue of Europe Smith will "shift". That you have translated this into confirmation that "Owen Smith has no intention of pursuing any of the policies he has put forward" is I think a stunning example of precisely the worrying attitude I have described.

"Believe nothing, except what confirms the thing you desperately want to believe" seems to be the name of the game and, I insist, it is a profoundly dysfunctional one for any party to be playing.

Be well.


Vince Mccabe

3 years ago

I completely concur, and you have saved me the trouble of writing my own response as to why I know that this gentleman is completely wrong . I took the time to read the whole, over worded article, and scrolled down to read your response. One key element of his argument is Trident, but his extremly selective use of one poll is not the whole story... So I suggest he reads Dr. Nick Ritchie and Paul Ingrams review of all polling data between 2005 and July 2013, in their article 'Trident in UK Politics and Public Opinion', before he makes such a spurious claim.

Heather Welford

3 years ago

Good piece, Alex (a tad long, perhaps). The increasing number of incidents showing incompetence in leadership was what prompted me to rejoin Labour after a 10 year gap (I'd been a member for 20 years before that). I have rejoined and also paid the £25 registered supporter fee, because I want labour in power this side of the next millennium, and I can't see labour being a convincing opposition let alone a convincing government ever (literally) under JC. I am getting to like Owen Smith more - and commend him for having a go.

John Aulich

3 years ago

This is a very interesting article, and excellent read, but it's about you - not Corbyn - what you think socialism can or cannot be, what you do when you 'turn,' what you feel about this that or the other. It's an enjoyable outline of a personal political journey that you have undertaken, but it's neither an analysis of or 'the truth' about Corbyn - he's the proxy for your expression of a complex set of views.


3 years ago

Alex, I congratulate you on this piece. As someone who voted for Corbyn for the same reasons as you, and who could see the broader writing on the wall for Labour in exactly the manner you set out here, the only difference between me and you is I was already seeing what you've captured here about a week into his leadership.

Two sections struck me as most powerful:

(1) "I always thought that socialism could combine with liberal values. But what if it can't? What if there is something so inherently didactic in any movement that believes in its moral superiority, it is structurally doomed to authoritarianism?"

The above encapsulates perfectly why I have never considered myself a socialist; but instead, a social democrat. Socialism taken to its inevitable conclusion is frightening, puritanical and not even pluralistic. It does not seek to reach out to others, but just hectors them instead.

(2) "Right now, the only thing more frightening to any rational person than Labour losing the next election, is Labour winning it with Corbyn in charge".

I've voted anti-Tory at every election in my life. But give me a May-led Conservative government over this bunch of wild-eyed, foaming-at-the-mouth cultist fanatics any day of the week.

Most people on the left routinely critique religion because it is so anti-reason. I feel precisely the same way about the cult of Corbyn and what it has spawned. Corbynism and Faragism are two cheeks of the same backside.

All the best with your future endeavours. I write as someone who had various (usually lively) exchanges with you on Twitter; who shares the very same "when I turn, I really turn" tendencies 100%; but who quietly laments your fire and brimstone of earlier this year towards those who were arguing what you have yourself concluded. Perhaps, in the end, there's a lesson in that.

Tara H

3 years ago

How they appear or how *we* are portrayed? I've been to many Momentum meetings and only met very reasonable and respectful people (usually a lot older than we are portrayed- average age must be 50 and many, if not most, are women). Sure there are occasional nutters on the internet, on every side. Back in the early days I was called a Blairite spin doctor on the JC for leader page, for suggesting that putting up photos of Corbyn next to Chavez was not helpful (and actually irrelevant). However lots of people seemed to agree with me and the spin doctor comments just amused me, because they were so far off the mark. I must have a remarkably thick skin. For the record Venezuela and Labour's historic position on N Ireland (I'm from Belfast) are the 2 things on which Corbyn and I are not on the same page. I still voted him as my MP for 20 years though and considered myself lucky to have an MP with whom I agreed so much!

Rory Merton

3 years ago

Tara - unfortunately, that's how they appear to the floating voters who will decide whether we get the Tories out or not.

Tara H

3 years ago

You think calling people a " bunch of wild-eyed, foaming-at-the-mouth cultist fanatics" is a persuasive comment or helps your point?

Tara H

3 years ago

The thought experiment question is invalid. The referendum was Cameron's idea and Cameron's failure. It just doesn't translate across.

The title of this piece is misleading clickbait. The Truth? What qualifies you to claim your opinion as "The Truth" about anyone? I would certainly never be arrogant enough to make such a claim.

I voted Remain. I was gutted when Leave won but I believe we have to now unfortunately leave the EU. Stupid ...yes, particularly as we weren't asked to agree an option of where we might go (Cameron's failing, see above) and the main representatives of the 52% didn't care to lead us there either, to wherever they thought it was....even so, I don't see any choice other than decisive action towards leaving which is, what Corbyn was saying.

Tara H

3 years ago

Hi Theresa, I will remain in the Labour party and hope that it provides a strong opposition to the Tories. However I was not comfortable with their vote for Trident, nor the bombing of Syria and unfortunately I really don't like Owen Smith- I listen to him and I hear shades of David Cameron ( I have Welsh friends who know him prior to this and would back up my view) . His "Calm down dear" moment will happen. I didn't feel that way about Eagle (I felt a little sorry for her, which is not a good sign either though) and I really quite liked Ed Milliband. I should admit here that I was a constituent of Corbyn's for 20 years, (you'll struggle to find many in North Islington with a bad word to say about him) -he has been in the Labour party all this time, as will I.

signed a "wild-eyed, foaming-at-the-mouth cultist fanatic" ;-)


3 years ago

Tara, I'm interested, in the unlikely event that Owen becomes leader, will you fall into line behind him or will you still try to facilitate change?


3 years ago

I sincerely hope you piece obtains wider currency amongst Corbyn supporters who I fear have boxed themselves into a political corner. I attended the pro-EU demonstration in Parliament Square the Saturday after the Referendum. The banners were all homemade and the vast majority of people present were there out of spontaneous concern for the tragedy which the Leave vote had inflicted on the nation. When I explained to a fellow demonstrator wearing a Corbyn t-shirt that Jeremy had advocated invoking Article 50 “now” he was genuinely nonplussed. For all of his adult life Corbyn’s hobby has been the cheerful adoption of a proliferation of a causes. I would expect to see his name endorsing petitions and campaigns for migrants rights defending asylum seekers. Yet despite those no doubt sincere expressions of support he gave not a moments consideration to the same migrants rights when he advocated invoking Article 50 five days before Nigel Farage got round to doing the same thing.
Corbyn has no conception of the body of legal protection enjoyed by migrants stemming from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. His contributions to the Referendum campaign epitomised by the 7 out of 10 remark (whatever that means) betrays a simplistic and binary thinking which so cruelly exposes his intellectual limitations.
If as a self-employed Greek national exercising Treaty Rights in the UK and you seek to obtain permanent residence you will encounter a blizzard of Home Office bureaucracy designed to prevent you obtaining permanent stay. Since 2004 only 467,986 of the 3 million EU nationals living in the UK have so far managed to do so. The Home Office currently processes EEA permanent residence applications at the rate of about 20,000 a year. So on current projections it will take them 125 years to address the residence of that many EU citizens. I expect some of them will turn up to Corbyn’s surgery and he will be able to remind them that he has a long track record of campaigning for migrants rights – the only problem being that within 24 months their Treaty Rights will evaporate and they (and their families) will have no basis of stay in the United Kingdom.
During the Referendum campaign Gisela Stuart, the chair of the Vote Leave campaign, tried to claim:
“You have got the Vienna convention, which guarantees the rights of existing citizens and existing arrangements.” The Vienna convention protects the acquired rights of individuals in situations of treaty change”
However, that is not altogether accurate. The reference to ‘the parties’ in Article 70 of the Vienna Convention is a reference to the parties to the treaty – i.e. States. Article 70 does not directly address individual rights. The International Law Commission, in its commentary on the scope of the identically worded predecessor to Article 70.1(b) (Article 66 draft Vienna Convention) specifically rejected an interpretation that it gave rise to acquired rights:
‘… by the words “any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty”, the Commission wished to make it clear that paragraph l(b) relates only to the right, obligation or legal situation of the States parties to the treaties created through the execution, and is not in any way concerned with the question of the “vested interests” of individuals.’

Gisela Stuart and Jeremy Corbyn both Labour Members of Parliament have done more to put paid to the prospect of the election of any type of progressive Government in Britain than any Tory could ever dream of. They have also wreaked brought havoc in the lives of millions of migrants. My plea to the Corbynista’s is be progressive but as one former Labour Leader put it always remember you can’t play politics with people’s lives and peoples jobs.

Mik Goodram

3 years ago

You say Corbyn has been dishonest because of his Remain campaign and then you say he took a holiday. He didn't. He was honest about his reaervations on Europe and he didn't try to hide his past on the issue. Corbyn's inspiration has engaged people to build a genuine social movement that can become a stronger labour party.


3 years ago

Clicked send by accident (continued from above). I will unfortunately be leaving the party because there's no point being a member of an organisation that doesn't achieve anything. We all have a limited amount of time and energy, and I'd rather use it constructively campaigning with effective organisations.


3 years ago

By far the best analysis I've read. I will unfortunately be k

Carl Bewley

3 years ago

Alex - define 'fit to lead' please. Is that Blair war mongering fit or Brown bumbling fit? Or Ed 'dunno who I am or what I believe in' fit? I'm confused as to how Labour was so badly led last time it led to a weakened Tory Party beating them...twice, yet Corbyn is deemed 'unfit'??

Maybe you should accept people not politicians want a say too. And right or wrong, that is currently represented in Jeremy Corbyn. Let those who don't have a voice have a say please. If it all goes tits up, then at least I believe we won't be any worse off than we are now. I sincerely believe he wouldn't lead us into any illegal wars anyway...


3 years ago

Hi Alex. It's analysis, hence just opinion. But certainly an interesting read. I have to agree with Jenny Reeves as to who within Labour's MPs shares the majority of JC's values but us a bit younger, sharper and more electable......Sadness is that current PLP seems to be a bunch of over-educated, hyper political animals, with snouts in a 75K + expenses trough....


3 years ago

All MPs, including Corbyn are paid that, so why is this used as an insult?


3 years ago

Hi. I keep coming across 'over-educated' as a criticism. Trouble is I don't really understand what it means. Could you please explain. Thanks.


3 years ago

The horror of Corbyn's leadership for me is that I find myself forced into conceding that a Labour government with our present leader as Prime Minister would beckon a national catastrophy of epic proportions. This man cannot bring the country together let alone the Labour Party. As an historical parallel Corbyn resembles King Charles I in his desire to make Parliament bow to him after raising his banner at Edge Hill.

Frances Kay

3 years ago

There's a letter in today's Guardian that expresses my feelings. It's by Eileen Kelly. ''I am not interested in Jeremy Corbyn's personality or the lack of it. I, like many others, support an alternative vision for Britain - pro-equality, anti-war. Hadley Freeman's column [30 July] reinforced a negative narrative that effectively closes down the prospect of any meaningful debate'. In the same way, your piece does that too. It's the principles that matter, and if there is anyone in the PLP who is as consistent and as passionate about the principles that guided Labour in 1945, then let them take the mantle.
This is far bigger than one man.


3 years ago



3 years ago

Europe for me too - that was a colossal let down. I know he really wants out, always has, but there will be no socialist wonderland on leaving the EU. I imagine your reward for a cogent and thought provoking piece will be to be condemned for rightist deviation and worse ;-)

Sidia Dunn

3 years ago

I feel that this is just asking everyone to accept that there isn't really any significant change possible and we will have to just accept the status quo as that is what will win out anyway. We may get fed a few compensatory crumbs if we play the central game correctly. Corbyn may not be leadership material, but personally I don't see the Labour parliamentary party as having depth, quality, authority or courage.
Complain or cringe at the hideous anger and aggression displayed on Twitter - but I suspect I'm more fearful of the terrible disconnection from politics /politicians that I meet in my every day life - I'm not sure where that may end up , but I do know that Byline, Twitter and Facebook don't tend to reach those places/people. There is a growing darkness and fear expressed in my conversations with work colleagues and local community that concerns me and I don't think Labour is capable of really dealing with it with or without Corbyn. Will getting rid of Corbyn mean Labour start addressing these things? I suspect not.

Colin Gordon

3 years ago

Correct, all true I think, well said. It is the stories of personal costs paid in trolling-mobbing which are truly shocking and still under reported. Lack of serious investigation by the people who should have been doing it, who seem to have too easy to intimidate themselves.


3 years ago

Excellent piece, many thanks for publishing. It takes honesty, also towards oneself, and most Corbynistas probably know deep down this is so, which explains the defensiveness. Anyone feeling anger at your or anyone's criticism of Corbyn or any honest analysis (like Owen Jones' recent piece) needs to look at their own insecurities first.


3 years ago

A passionately well-argued piece which describes a journey many are making. I joined Labour after Corbyn's election because his policies resonated with me, but nine months later I could not think of voting for him for all the reasons you describe so well. My friends outside the Labour party, however well-disposed to Labour they may be, are among the millions who just don't see him as a potential Prime Minister and would therefore not vote for Labour under his leadership. Without voters like these, Labour is doomed at the next election.


3 years ago

An extremely intelligent and well structured piece.

I didn't vote for Corbyn, as after 30 years in the party I couldn't see any leadership strengths that would make me. However I could see how it happened and wasn't completely surprised.

What does surprise me is the insistence that he hadn't succeeded because it is everyone else's fault, as you address. We fight for Government and we need to more than ever now. I just wish there wasn't a blinker that says we have yo convince the public to vote for him. No we have to convince them to Vote Labour and at the moment it just isn't happening.


3 years ago

You are quite right it is necessary to get people to vote Labour more than anything else and if it's not going to be Corbyn as leader who would be more successful? Certainly not Owen Smith.
It has to be someone that the members are comfortable with, as they are now providing much of Labour's funding and would provide canvassers etc in the case of a GE. To that end it will probably have to be someone that is endorsed by Corbyn, has no baggage from Blair's days and the press would struggle to attack as they are Corbyn and did to Miliband.
I can't see May even trying to get a GE by calling a vote of no confidence in her government or 67% of MPs voting for one given how unpredictable actual voting has become compared to opinion polls.
My personal opinion is that Corbyn should stay for another two years and continue pushing the party, not to the left as many claim, but back to where it belongs. I am 72 and I believe Corbyn is too old to lead the party into the next election and my personal choice would be for him to hand over to Dan Jarvis and watch the Mail/Express/Sun etc fail to denigrate him.
I believe Jarvis could win and win well against the Tories in 2020 who are likely to be still embroiled in the aftermath of Brexit in then and, perhaps unfairly, they will be blamed for it.

Edd Marsh

3 years ago

Absolutely spot on analysis. I voted for Corbyn, naively it now seems, and have become utterly depressed at how ineffectual and incompetent he ( and his close circle ) have been. He leads his hardline supporters and the rest of us, pied-piper like away from electoral success. What is it about the denialist Corbynistas that they can read balanced and honest articles like this, and others from Owen jones et al, and see lies and establishment bias?
Anyone paying attention to the misgivings of Corbyn from labour insiders can see it is not so much that his politics that concerns them as his complete lacking in communication skills,leadership organisation. I must be a Blairite scumbag I suppose.


3 years ago

The problem is that he is the only one offering those policies. You may not want him because you think he is incompetent, but remember that the majority of MPs didn't want him before he'd even had a chance to display any leadership abilities- they don't want his policies, they want more of the same kind of thing that has had Labour losing 5 million voters over the past decade, lost it the last two elections and lost it almost all of its seats in Scotland.

For many people, even if Corbyn is a bit rubbish at the day to day leader stuff, it is absolutely worth it for the possibility of getting a government that could save us from the neoliberal hell we are descending into -I feel that you and many others are perhaps not aware of how awful the situation is, and how a Labour opposition or Labour government that is still part of the neoliberal consensus will do nothing to save us. Pursuit of profit over and above all else will ruin our society, our environment, will lead to endless war, no workers rights, low wages, etc.

We feel that if the MPs and members all got behind him and these policies, if he had been supported from the beginning, properly, instead of having MPs plotting against him and sabotaging him by doing things like passing his questions to Cameron in advance of PMQs and going to the press to slag him off, it would be so much better.

We can't give up on the idea that our country be run for US and not for corporate profit. That is the important thing here, that is why people are behind Corbyn, and why it matters so so so much.


3 years ago

Your logic seems to be:

1. You agree that Jeremy has not been given a fair crack by the PLP or the media.
2. You think he's ineffective at PMQ's
3. A number of the PLP have said he's incompetent
4. His poll ratings are poor
5. You were disappointed by his EU referendum performance. Reading between the lines I think that was the straw that broke the camel's back for you- I suspect it was for a number of people that have recently turned away from Corbyn- especially in London and the South-East.

Let me address each of those points.

1. It's fair of you to concede these points but I don't think you afford it enough import. Corbyn and McDonnell have absolutely stuck to their principles from day one. Their conviction laid the foundations that enabled the Tories to be defeated on a number of occasions and has made (despite unanimous opposition from the mainstream media) anti-austerity almost fashionable. Put yourself in Corbyn's shoes, from day one he was trying to radically alter the political and economics orthodoxy and at the same time fight-off his own PLP and an extremely hostile media (often the PLP and media seemed to feed off each other). I doubt any leader in modern times had faced more challenging circumstances.

2. I'd concede that Jeremy is not a natural at PMQ's. However, I do think he is right to convert PMQ's from a point scoring exercise to a serious opportunity to question the PM. In my opinion he is getting better and in the end he will be proved right. His whole life has been testament to persistently supporting unpopular causes and, in the end, being proved right.

3. I'd concede that he has made mistakes but I'd argue that given the chaos caused by point 1 above, that's hardly surprising. It would be amazing if he and his team had not been more than a liitle paranoid and succumbed a little to bunker mentality. He has faced a number of major crises- Syria, the re-shuffle, the coup and many media storms- the root cause in many cases; his own PLP. In addition some of the stories about alleged incompetence have been turned about to gross exaggerations by MPs with an axe to grind.

4. It's a truism that divided parties do not do well. Given that there has been near open revolt since day one, I think it's remarkable that, prior to the week from hell (the EU result, the Coup and May's coronation), the polls held up as well as they did (average deficit in June prior to EU result was just less than 3%). This is especially true when you consider he hasn't tried to appease the media by foillowing the orthodoxy- he has made bold statements saying the country needs to move in a totally different direction. He has been a signpost whatever the political weather. Now imagine how different those polls may have been if the PLP had supported him (or even if the MPs that couldn't support had just kept quiet rather than plotting and briefing against him). Yes the PLP is very important but they should respect the members' democratic choice of leader for at least a decent period of time (I'd suggest at least 2 years) not undermine him from day one and launch a coup after only 9 months. In my opinion, that's wholly disrespectful towards the membership and their democratic authority.

5. The EU. I'd agree that Jeremy has reservations about the EU (in his own words he was 7.5 out of 10). What could he do? Should have lied or, even worse, joined in with Cameron and Osborne's disastrous Project Fear which only entrenched the Leave camp's passion AND gave them cover to spread their lies and, in some cases, openly racist propaganda? Angela Eagle herself said that Corbyn travelled the length and breadth of the country with an energy that would have stretched a 25 year-old. Then we look at the actual results- two-thirds of Labour voters, voted remain- comparable to the SNP and the Lib-Dems- I think only the Greens achieved 80% remain. The EU exit disaster lies squarely at the feet of David Cameron- he promised the vote, his negotiations with Brussels were pathetic and he decided the Project Fear strategy; an absolute own-goal which lost the Remain camp the higher ground that would have secured victory.

In conclusion, in my opinion it's the PLP that are largely to blame for the poor current ratings and when Jeremy hopefully wins again, they should do the honourable thing and give him a chance to prove the members right.

Finally, whatever the upcoming result, I recognise that we both want to see the Labour Party succeed. We are comrades.

Gaz Brown

3 years ago

What are your thoughts on his thought experiment?


3 years ago

That is very well said.

Briv Paul

3 years ago

Great piece Alex Your nadir came after the EU vote & I can see why The day after he came out and congratulated Hoey and Stuart and called for article 50 There wasn't one word of encouragement for the millions who felt it was the wrong choice. It was obvious he didn't want to stay in the EU. I hate a lot about the EU but life outside it is by far the worse option . Yet when asked about the immigration problem Corbyn trots out the EU Workers posted directive WTF we are leaving the EU how is that an answer to such a complicated question as Immigration. Like you I was full of hope last summer and supported Corbyn but the PMQs open goals the lack of any comment on daily events and the bunker mentality has gradually worn me down. The IDS resignation fiasco was the last straw for me. Millions of disabled people were waiting for IDS legacy to be denounced at PMQs or at the budget U turn but we were not worthy of a mention The dead from welfare cuts not worth a mention Not my job he said . That's a betrayal Yes he's stood up for the disabled as a back bencher but a lettes from Julie about student grants let's say was considered more important than IDS. Yes student grants are a worthy subject but more than IDSs cruel regime ? I think not. Oh your not a real socialist they cry ? Well what is a real socialist one who attends protest & joins Twitter hashtags or one who want to get in power to change things for the people who need an end to Tory rule . So what if you have to compromise & lie even Its what Tories do most effectively No one can deny that. Unfortunately I see a take over of the Labour Party by activists rather than politicians as the future Good bye Labour We knew you well Welcome to decades of unfettered Conservatism


3 years ago

Great read Alex, and such fun too! Prepare yourself for the arrival of the posse though. Bad news travels fast in these parts, and they will be rounding up volunteers to denounce you as I speak.

Thanks for the honesty of your personal view, and your wit, sadly much lacking in too much of this hullabaloo.


3 years ago

Dear Carl, I think the reaction both here and on Twitter validate my lighthearted suggestion. Be careful rolling your eyes while walking away though.

Carl Bewley

3 years ago

Why is arguing against misinformation a rounded up 'posse'? Tell you what I'll just roll my eyes and walk away.


3 years ago

Alex, this is the most compelling analysis of current politics that I've read and your integrity is obvious. I've worked for Labour and Tories nationally so I'm probably the Corbynistas' antichrist but experience and common sense recommends centrist governments held in check by credible opposition. It's terrifying to me that the case you make ever needed to be made but well done all the same.


3 years ago

Excellent analysis eloquently put Alex reflecting many of the views of people like me who voted for Corbyn but now see how incompetent he is at the actual job of parliamentary politics. A system he should be well versed in even as a 30 yr rebel. As you say the changing demographics in terms of voting would prove an uphill struggle for a unified Labour Party -but now I despair. ( mostly at the fact we can't seem to start a dialogue to address these issues) Liked the socialist crufts analogy:) Agree too that Tom Crewe's piece in LRB very good.

Mary Waite

3 years ago

Alex, thank you for a very refreshing and in my opinion honest assessment of the current position we in the Labour Party find ourselves. You captured my thoughts exactly.

June Maxwell

3 years ago

Well said Alex. The piece is similar to much of my own thinking. Up here we've already shown Labour the door for similar shenanigans. If it all gets too much for you to bare down there, you would be very welcome in our soon to be separate, independent and sane wee country.


3 years ago

Hi Alex,
I think you're analysis is quite right.
That's all.

Martin Palmer

3 years ago

An excellent piece. Their politics aside, I see clear parallels between Corbyn and Trump - the development of a personality cult, the concerted crushing of dissenting voices, the readiness to promulgate downright lies as 'the truth', the leader standing by ("nothing to do with me") whilst his supporters behave appallingly in his name. Depressing. Clear parallels too, in the state their respective parties are going to be left in, when the smoke clears...

Jenny Reeves

3 years ago

Well said as usual, I'm left however wondering if not JC and not a return to the polished politics of OS given they are our only choices than what next? Or rather who? I know I'm not alone in this confusion either. It seems that the closer the actual leadership election gets the more people seem to feel disconnected with our party. That's the real shame, that something once seen as a bastion of hope and social progress is now seen as by many as unwelcoming and out of touch.

Jenny Reeves

3 years ago

Ian, my point I suppose is that when politics is so polished you can't really trust the essence of it, surely we've learned that lesson? I don't trust Owen Smith, no I can't tell you why but there's something about him that just doesn't ring true, it's a personal thing for me.
Yes competence is vital but competence isn't the same as being part of a smooth PR machine. I do often think that perhaps Corbyn as much as I support him bit off a bit more than he could chew but with a better support team he could be the answer.
I don't have the answers obviously, I'm just a 39year old mother of 3 who had to give up a full time job to look after her husband who became disabled after an accident and is now victim to every single vicious austerity measure the Tories throw at us. But I believe the answers are in the Labour Party, or at least I want to believe that.

Carl Bewley

3 years ago

Ian... does thirty years in politics not make Corbyn a professional too?

Ian Betteridge

3 years ago

Hi Jenny. Just to pick up on one point you make, about the "polished politics" of Smith: what's wrong with politics being polished? Presentation matters, and being able to professionally and simply communicate your views, vision and policies should be a good thing. It reminds me of the complaint about "professional politicians". I can't think of any other sphere of where we'd prefer an amateur to a professional. What matters, surely, is the competency of someone. I'd definitely take a competent politician over an incompetent one.