Thursday, 30 June 2016

We Need to Talk About Corbyn

But, hang on, why do we need to talk about Corbyn?

Hasn't everyone been talking about him for months at the expense of any attention towards Tory infighting? And wasn't it that Tory infighting which led to the referendum, which led to "Leave", which led to us finding ourselves suddenly flash-forwarded eighteen months into a Baltar presidency on New Caprica scratching a living on bare rock, stuck in a civil war and about to be marched into a ditch by killer robots? Why - some will ask - why do we need to talk about Labour when it's the Tories who got us in this mess? Well, because the ship of state's been steered into that iceberg and so our first priority now has to be to check on the lifeboats, surely?
So what's going on with these lifeboats then?

Shit, he's found the truth glasses! Is everyone who's calling for Corbyn to resign a Blairite then? Because that would make Gordon Brown a Blairite and that can't be right, can it? Is Ed Miliband a Blairite now? Is this whole drip drip of resignations a coup organised by Portland Communciations as reported by The Canary, or just a snowballing manifestation of grievances borne by workers who feel completely unsupported by their boss? If Portland organised the coup, did they also pay Ken Livingstone to bang on madly about Hitler? Are they paying John McDonnell to alienate his entire party by not employing anyone from it? Are they firing a keep-being-shit-at-sight-reading ray at Corbyn every PMQs?

I joined the Labour party last year and I wrote here why (in short, it was because I wanted the opposition to become more involved in the grass roots anti-austerity movements that had sprung up under the coalition, and because I could finally bear to watch Ed Miliband talk) and I voted for Corbyn this year and wrote why here (again, it was because he was the only member standing who opposed austerity). I voted for him because I wanted to see. And now we've seen. We've seen that the PLP is more than happy to take a stand against austerity and actually do some opposing now...

And we've seen that Jeremy Corbyn still can't sight-read for shit. But so what? Let him be the manager and send shadow ministers onto the pitch with more fire in their bellies. Shadow ministers like Angela Eagle - Oh, she resigned... or Heidi Alexander - Oh, she's resigned.... or Chris Bry- Oh...

So who's snatching defeat from the jaws of victory here? The "traitors", for turning on their democratically elected leader just as the Tories are in disarray? Or Corbyn, for showing himself ready to risk splitting an opposition finally dedicated to ending austerity? Should I be worried? The Canary called those resignations a "call for celebration", so... hooray? Is it really impossible for Labour to unite under Corbyn? When his own grass-roots mobiliser "Momentum" proposed this petition under the headline "This is a time for Labour to be united" I asked one of those sharing the petition on twitter a question that had been bothering me ever since I'd read Chris Bryant's resignation letter - "How will keeping Corbyn unite Labour?" This was his response:

And that really does seem to be his plan: unity by means of getting rid of everyone who won't unite on his terms or, to give it its technical name, division. Or else he has no plan. Sure, there are far smarter people than me who think Corbyn is the saviour of the party, especially with the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War still yet to be published, but there are also far dumber people. And where's the integrity in treating the support of your MPs in such a cavalier manner, in dismissing them as "right-wing"? Was Jo Cox, shot and stabbed to death in the lead up to the referendum, right-wing? Would she have joined the "traitors"? We'll never know. I've certainly changed my tune.

The thing is I've supported a lot of strikes recently (in my head I mean, I haven't left the house or anything), strikes called by workers at their wits' end because of a management that shows more interest in alienating its own workforce than doing its job. And this, to me, is definitely that. Corbyn won. He really did win. The opposition that in 2015 seemed perpetually stupified by its own history into a scared fug of meaningless soundbites is unrecognisable now, government policy after government policy has failed to make it through the house, and finally the Prime Minister's resigned. So Corbyn won. And now I, one of the thousands who democratically elected him, think we should let him go. Yeah, perhaps you gathered that. I'm going to leave things with more Angela Eagle. Whatever your opinions on Brexit, Corbyn, or the Parliamentary Labour Party, I think you'll find that this clip - particularly from 4 minutes, 20 seconds onwards - provides some excellent, horrible foreshadowing of the last seven days in politics. And there's braying, be warned. But maybe that's what winning sounds like.


(Thanks to Adam Macqueen for the screenshot at the top.)


  1. Once upon a time a referendum was held, and by invoking nationalism, a bunch of rich white men seized power from another bunch of rich white men.

    Meanwhile the extreme centre of the Labour Party recognised that the left-wing backed by a mass movement had the potential to force the redistribution of wealth. They staged a coup against the left and restored their own rich white men to power.

    Angela Eagle cried on telly and normality was restored. Neo-liberal economics and war are back to stay! Hooray!

    But wait! There is a working class revolt, better throw them some scraps! The Labour Party insist that they are the people to do this, but the Tories have been here before (remember 1990 and the poll-tax riot?). So they elect Stephen Crabb, (a good working class boy, just like John Major) who then builds a few council houses to prevent the ruling classes from being lynched.

    The End

    Corbyn is the figurehead of a mass movement that has the potential to change this country. I don’t care if he’s crap at PMQs. He doesn't have to be good at anything except rallying large numbers of people. This is the only way to break the rich/richer, poor/poorer scenario. This will not come easy...

    But there are more Labour MPs like him? Right?
    How many pass the Iraq test? (not Eagle that’s for sure)
    How many pass the Palestine test?
    How many do not have some kind of financial relationship with big business or the super-rich?
    About 40 I’d say…

    1. There's a Palestine test? Whose test is it, when it did start and what is it?

  2. Hello, anon.
    Is there an Iraq test? For each of us there might be, but not beyond that. I personally failed mine. See elsewhere.
    You say Corbyn doesn't have to be good at anything except rallying large numbers of people, but Farage managed that. So what are these people being rallied for? At some point you also have to be good at governing. And before that point, you have to give people some idea of how you'll govern. That's democracy, isn't it?
    And is what's happening a coup, or a strike? I'm sticking with my version, and it's not because yours is new to me. I'm also a little unsure of the significance of the poll tax riots here. You write too much like me.
    Finally, what's an "extreme centre"? I like the sound of it obviously, but can such a thing actually exist?

  3. I'm going to have to disagree with you Simon. I support Corbyn. I don't believe he holds the answer to all of Labour's problems, and I don't believe that he is the 'savour' of the left. But I think that after years of bkair, Brown and Miliband, it is the right time to have a more left-wing left. I also believe that it is the fault of the party for not uniting, not Corbyn. He has done nothing to cause the resignations, and it is surely right that Labour should support its leader, regardless of whether they supported his leadership campaign or not. Surely not all of the Conservatives supported Cameron? In my view, Labour should support its leader, get into power and THEN decide the minutiae of its politics.

  4. Thanks for writing, you. Here's what I don't understand about that view: How are Labour going to get in without a manifesto?

  5. #agrassrootslabourmovementthatputsworkingclassmpsintoparliamentcangetelectedeasilystupid

  6. Meanwhile the political class can keep themselves amused by their holy holy coup against Corbyn who rules with 2 E's at A level to his name. Technocrats, fools, sycophants, the insane and the desperate within the Westminster Village thus ensure their rightful place in society and give continuity to the illusionary 'I'.

    Sorry Ange, you're working for us now. This may come as a shock.

    None is more entitled than Kinnochio who has now been wheeled out as a Blair locum to tell us that he is older and wiser.

    Sorry Neil, you're just older.

    The political class: give them 500 mics of LSD and put them next to a speaker.

    We can all be friends in the end.


    Kinncok: 'Corbyn is a vain man'. Cockwomble.

  8. Isn't it pronounced "Luff-bruh"?
    Getting a whole new raft of MPs in is, well... easier said than done, and under normal circumstances - which these I hope to God aren't - a very weird ambition. Good thing nobody's watching.