Tom London’s perceptive piece countering Owen Jones’s criticism of Jeremy Corbyn makes excellent points.
There is nothing wrong with Mr Corbyn’s policies.
There is everything wrong with right-wing Labour MPs’ response to them – and their leader.
There is everything wrong with right-wing Labour’s assumption that it has policies that can win elections. They can’t.
There is everything wrong with right-wing Labour’s claim to the more high ground, having sent Labour’s poll ratings crashing. Has anybody asked Hilary Benn, Angela Eagle, Owen Smith and the others if they are proud of what they’ve done to the party in the polls?
There is everything wrong with Mr Jones’s claim that Mr Corbyn’s leadership qualities are the problem.
There is everything wrong with any belief the right-wing Labour will willingly allow another left-winger onto a leadership ballot paper, considering the fact that nomination still relies on MPs, rather than the membership as a whole.
And there is everything wrong with any belief that a new leader – from either side of the party – won’t run into exactly the same opposition from the media as Jeremy Corbyn has – unless he or she makes it explicit that Labour will not threaten the current status quo.
And Labour exists to threaten the current status quo.
Perhaps that is the message we should be taking to the people:
Your current leaders exist to enrich themselves and impoverish you. Labour would put a stop to that – and that’s why you only hear criticism of Labour.
Owen Jones has written an article this week in the Guardian calling on Jeremy Corbyn to stand down. I take what Jones says seriously but I think he is wrong.
There are two issues here – the policy and the leader.
I agree with Jones that Corbyn’s policies are more likely to win an election than those of his Labour Party opponents. As he says correctly of those opponents – “They had no compelling or coherent alternative (to Corbyn).” He writes that the “more perceptive among the ranks of the opponents recognise this. The less perceptive have become embittered nihilists, defined almost exclusively by hostility to the left.”
It is a lazy and too common assumption that the Labour Party would be doing OK if only it had more centrist or right wing policies. This seems to be based on the example of Tony Blair. However, 2017 is not 1997. In particular, there have been two General Elections since the 2008 Crash and Labour has lost both of them. Labour’s underlying problems pre-date Corbyn. Labour lost almost 5 million votes between 1997 and 2010 (going from 13.5 million to 8.6 million). It was not Corbyn’s policies that led to a wipe-out in Scotland.
Corbyn’s opponents fundamental claim is that they are the grown-ups, the sensible ones who know how to win elections. Yet they launched the shambolic, destructive and pointless coup last year just at the time when the Tories were on the ropes, which led to a disastrous plunging in Labour’s poll ratings which have never recovered since.
Jones’ criticism of Corbyn is not about his policies but about his leadership qualities. He says Corbyn is ineffective and wants him replaced with a younger, more effective communicator (unnamed).
I have no problem with Jones’ idea in principle – (but I have two problems in practice). I support Corbyn not because of the man – although I admire him – but because of his policies. If someone else really could make them more likely to be implemented then it would make sense to support them.
However – unless we are to have a dramatic announcement by a group of Labour MPs – Jones’ swap idea appears to be nothing more than pie in the sky dreaming. All the signs are to date that Labour MPs are doing everything in their power to ensure that a candidate with Corbyn’s policies will never be allowed to go on to the leadership ballot to be voted on by the membership.
The second problem with the swap idea is that it underestimates the power of the UK elite, in particular through its control of the media. We don’t know who Jones new, improved Corbynite leader would be. However, even if they had the political skills of an Abraham Lincoln or a FDR and the looks of Justin Trudeau, as long as they put forward policies that threatened the UK’s elite they would face the same tsunami of bile and distortion that Corbyn has had to endure and the same blocking of their positive message.
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