Tag Archives: jeremy corbyn

On Labour, And History

In the first ballot for the 1976 Labour leadership contest, I am reminded, the candidates were Jim Callaghan, Tony Benn, Anthony Crosland, Denis Healey, Roy Jenkins and Michael Foot. Say what you like about these. Crosland helped destroy the education system. Foot – well, they subsequently had to wait three decades to find a leader who was worse.

This time round we get Jeremy Corbyn. Angela Eagle, a politician so charismatic that when she held her press conference to launch her leadership bid the entire press corps left half-way to report on the doings of someone they had never heard of a fortnight ago. You can see it here:


Oh, and Owen Something, a person whose sole qualification for the job is that he is Welsh.

It is like the aftermath of some terrible First World War battle, is it not, when all the officers are killed and the regiment is led by dim second lieutenants fresh out of Sandhurst? Excepting of course Theresa May, whose spell as Home Secretary suggests an inability to crack down on the real Bad Guys and a willingness to infringe on civil liberties in a botched attempt to do so. IMHO. Time will tell.


On Corbyn, And Lenin

On Feudal Grovelling

Jeremy Corbyn and his team are widely seen as having committed another tactical blunder when he refused to meet the Queen for his admission to the Privy Council, citing a previous arrangement he had made. I am not so sure.

The ceremony involves kneeling in front of the Sovereign and kissing her – or his, as appropriate – hand. It is hard to see what this has to do with a modern functioning liberal democracy. By prostrating yourself, you are confirming your inferior social status, by kissing, your enduring fealty. All very feudal.

I would find it hard to offer the Royal Family the sort of obsequious behaviour they seem to think they deserve. If indeed they do. I suspect a fair few of my fellow citizens, note the word, would feel the same and would think Corbyn has found a tactful way out of a potentially embarrassing situation while sticking to his principles.

As to offering the same sort of feudal grovelling to Charles… Hell will freeze over.

Anyone half-way sane, in the early part of the 21st Century, will be aware that a hereditary monarchy requires a throw of the genetic dice each and every generation, and that while the current incumbent was the result of a good throw, the same cannot be said for the next generation. Oh no.

As to the one after, there are encouraging signs that they appreciate that the current state of affairs cannot continue much longer, and that the descendants of a minor sprig of the German aristocracy which happened to be in the right place, historically, at the right time cannot expect to be treated like medieval monarchs with the power of life and death. We shall see.

On Corbynism, And Sweet Reasonableness

I recently had lunch with the chief executive of a global industrial company. He was raised in America and has a background in banking. None of the above would indicate a natural follower of Jeremy Corbyn.

He did, however, have a sneaking admiration for the Labour leader, and his handling of his first Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

If I were a Tory, or indeed, anyone who hoped to continue to live in this country much beyond the 2020 election, I would be a little worried by now. Time after time the electorate has made it clear they do not like the aggressive, point-scoring politics, the cheap jibes and abuse passing for political debate, practised in Westminster.

There was a vox pop on the Today programme this week making just this point. PMQs are a particular turn-off.

They particularly hate the baying and howling that accompanies any debate in the Commons, on however serious a subject. People do not conduct their everyday conversations like this. They simply cannot understand why their elected leaders have to sound like an out of control primary school class. (You do not have to know much about the psychology of crowds to realise why it is thus.)

Corbyn appeared at the dispatch box and spoke quietly and dispassionately. He produced a series of fair and reasonable questions from ordinary members of the public which he delivered in measured tones, and then listened politely to the answers.

Much of the commentariat, not greatly inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt anyway, thought it was a mistake, or a missed opportunity, or quirky eccentricity. Step outside the bubble and the reaction is likely to be rather different.

Don’t get me wrong. Corbyn and his acolytes do not have the core skills to run a political party, let alone the country, and they will continue to make terrible mistakes. But consider my chief executive. (Who, incidentally, said he would be on the first plane home after a Corbyn victory.)

A combination of the appearance of sweet reasonableness on his part, tooth-grinding attacks from that commentariat, and a few Tory blunders on the economy, not implausible, and the landscape may look a little different a couple of years hence. (Note John McDonnell’s apology re the IRA on Question Time yesterday, again couched in tones of sweet reasonableness.) People are not quite as horrible as their elected representatives think.

On Corbynism, An Inclusive Church?

met Yvette Cooper once, and I can report that she is a great deal more charming in person than she appears in the media. She is, however, known to most punters for just one thing, being married to Ed Balls.

She did not strike me then as a potential future Prime Minister. Her career consists of  a succession of policy wonk jobs, a brief foray into political journalism and various ministerial posts, none of them the really senior ones in Government. Nothing outside the Westminster Bubble.

I had literally never heard of Liz Kendall before the leadership race, not being part of that Bubble, and I still have trouble remembering her name. Liz Kershaw? Liz Kerslake? My fault, I am sure.

Andy Burnham strikes me as a Blair-lite apparatchik without a principled bone in his body.

Is this really the best the main opposition party can muster?

Apparently not, because into the fray came, blinking in surprise, someone who would appear to be a genuine individual, with principles, possibly even an inner life. I have explained why, with reference to Daughter, a staunch Labour activist, the grass roots of the party have swung so far to the left without anyone apparently noticing.

Jeremy Corbyn has some very odd views, though, the imposition of which, we discovered throughout the history of the previous century, led to economic disaster. Or something much, much worse.

He also has some very odd friends. Middle Eastern terrorists, the occasional Holocaust denier. It is one of the odd facts of politics that the extreme left often ends in bed with religious extremists because of their mutual loathing of the US and Israel. Just think of George Galloway.

Attacks on Corbyn, on this basis, are having some unpleasant consequences. Attackers are seen as friends of Israel, and you do not have to look very hard on Twitter to come across what looks like explicit examples of anti-Semitism from his followers, or people who claim to be.

Corbyn has so far dodged this one and is clearly not himself anti-semitic. But it is something that his hundreds of thousands of supporters might care to consider, on perusing those Twitter feeds.

PS: Scroll forward to 2020. Prime Minister Corbyn takes office as President Trump nears his second term. As the man asked, is there life on Mars?