Corbyn femsplained as a Blairite tries to put women off the Labour leader

Jeremy Corbyn in his Lenin-style cap in Jeremy Corbyn: The Outsider. Photograph: Vice/Youtube

The caption bitchily describes this as “Jeremy Corbyn in his Lenin-style cap in Jeremy Corbyn: The Outsider” [Image: Vice/Youtube].

I’ve just been wading through the murky waters of faux-feminist anti-Corbyn writing, courtesy of the Groan‘s Catherine Bennett.

Apparently she wants to tell us that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership isn’t as different from his forerunners as he wants people to think, and that this comes out most prominently in the way he has passed over women when appointing the top jobs in his shadow cabinet.

I don’t believe for a moment that this is Corbyn being trashed from a feminist perspective; it is as a Blairite that Catherine Bennett seems to be writing.

She certainly takes up the Blairite case that Corbyn’s attitude in Prime Minister’s Questions is inappropriate:

Corbyn will have no truck with the ridiculous convention among party leaders of trying to win elections. He concentrates, instead, on enhancing his power base. “I am not a traditional kind of party leader, I do things in a rather different way.”

Again, at prime minister’s questions, Mr Corbyn repeatedly rejects tradition, such that the opposition seizes this chance to flay the enemy.

Not “trying to win elections” is a typical Blairite criticism. Yet Corbyn did remarkably well in May, considering the fact that a huge percentage of mass media coverage worked very hard to bring him down.

We were told he would lose hundreds of seats and be forced to resign. In the end, he lost 11. How many of those were due to adverse newspaper coverage? Did Ms Bennett have anything to do with it?

I don’t know if “femsplaining” is a real word. It should be; we’ve been told all about “mansplaining”, after all. Ms Bennett seems keen to femsplain Corbyn’s attitude to women in the Labour Party:

In many respects, the Vice film demonstrates, Corbyn the outsider’s is a supremely traditional operation.

Like Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown before him, he shows a firm preference for a male-dominated team, its mission to sustain the fantasy that the chosen oddball can prevail: a skilled operation that would evidently be jeopardised if any woman were allowed a speaking role. Women’s freedom to sit silently, even to clap, is, however, one of the key respects in which life inside Corbyn’s office can be seen to differ from arrangements on all-male Mount Athos.

It was mansplained, to disappointed observers, that only the silliest woman would think that chancellor, or foreign secretary, is a more prestigious role than, say, international development, the job given to Diane Abbott.

But Corbyn’s shadow cabinet is evenly spread between men and women and Ms Bennett avoids a crucial point: He has to appoint the right person for each job. Perhaps he offered top jobs to women and was turned down (many ShadCab posts were turned down by disgruntled right-wingers, as Ms Bennett should know perfectly well), so it is not beyond the realms of reason for him to appoint on the basis of the skills base that remained.

But Ms Bennett neglects to mention the mass Blairite flounce, and this is what gives her away.

She’s trying to put women off Jeremy Corbyn, for sure. But not from a feminist perspective.

She’s trying to put women off Jeremy Corbyn to strengthen the Blairite, right-wing, neoliberal side of the Labour Party.

Bear in mind that elections to the National Executive Committee (NEC) will take place soon. The Blairite right is working hard to take control, in order to make it as hard as possible for Mr Corbyn to run an effective opposition to the Conservative Government.

Hence Jim Murphy’s sabotage of left-winger Rhea Wolfson’s candidacy in her home constituency party.

Hence this article by Catherine Bennett.

How duplicitous.

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10 thoughts on “Corbyn femsplained as a Blairite tries to put women off the Labour leader

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I thought 11.
      Do you have any information about how the party made those back, that I might have missed?

  1. Christine Cullen

    The Guardian has featured so many anti Corbyn articles since he became Labour leader, most of us have lost count. However when you look at the reader responses, it’s easy to see that the Guardian’s agenda is not working and that many of its readers hold many of the editorial staff and journalists in contempt.

    All they are doing is losing readers who are turning to other news sources to escape the propaganda that was once only a feature of the usual Fleet St suspects. The Guardian is becoming a Blairite instrument.

  2. NMac

    Just to be pedantic I would point out that Jeremy Corbyn’s hat is not a “Lenin” style, but classed as a “Fisherman’s”, a “Breton” or a “Fiddler” style hat. I have one myself and I am quite pleased that it has on more than one occasion been classed as a “Corbyn” style hat.

  3. Martin Odoni

    The three ‘outstanding’ female talents (heaven help the Labour party) for a ‘big 4’ position in September were Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper, and Harriet Harman, and all of them had declared in advance that they wouldn’t serve in a Corbyn shadow cabinet. If the appropriate people won’t make themselves available, Corbyn simply has to choose the best of what’s left. That’s not really his fault.

  4. Martin Odoni

    Worth responding to Bennett’s almost fictitious implication about Corbyn and women-only train carriages.

    This is what Corbyn ACTUALLY SAID about the idea, when it was proposed to him – see http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/26/women-only-train-carriages-a-possibility-under-jeremy-corbyn; –

    “Some women have raised with me that a solution to the rise in assault and harassment on public transport could be to introduce women only carriages.

    “My intention would be to make public transport safer for everyone from the train platform, to the bus stop to on the mode of transport itself. However, I would consult with women and open it up to hear their views on whether women-only carriages would be welcome – and also if piloting this at times and modes of transport where harassment is reported most frequently would be of interest.”

    Bennett tries to present this as a paternalistic position, an obsolete old man trying to impose rules and segregation on women. But she is again being deceitful. Corbyn explicitly presents the idea as a matter for consultation – WITH WOMEN – and does not at any stage endorse the idea, he just says it’s something for consideration. The idea was even put to him by women, so it’s impossible to conclude that he is being paternalistic.

  5. casalealex

    Election results 2016: Tories lose four times more council seats than Labour as final votes are announced

    After the final result rolled in last night Labour was down 11 seats and the Tories were down 49.

    Late victories for Labour on the other hand saw the party gain control of Bristol City Council – while the Tories lost Elmbridge in Surrey to No Overall Control.

    And the Tories lost a further 10 seats in by-elections which did not feature in the overall count.

    Mirror 9 May 2016

  6. jeffrey davies

    they getting worried now but still they dont realise that the peasants have awoken from that blairs dream and now want true labour not greedie mps who just in it for monies jeff3

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