Preach, brother Jonathan!

I have been following the reaction in the British media to the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour Party leader and have been shocked at the way that result has been portrayed across the board. It has been described as the end of the Labour party because, according to these pundits, under Corbyn’s leadership the party will be unelectable. Mind you, this is despite the fact that Corbyn won with a huge majority, larger than before, by a vote from party members. The media pretty much said that these people had acted like idiots for not choosing the milquetoast Blairite Owen Smith.

Jonathan Pie has had it with the way that Corbyn’e election has been portrayed and he lets loose with a righteous rant at the media and the Labour MPs. Well worth watching.


  1. Mental Reservation says

    In the past, the German media had the same approach to Corbyn as the British: He’s unelectable and proof that Labour makes itself obsolete. This time however, they decided to completely ignore Corbyn’s victory.

  2. fred says

    On the other hand, Corbyn’s poll ratings among the general electorate are the worst ever for Labour in opposition. Worse even than in the 1980s during their last espousal of socialism, when they were out of power for 18 years. It is understandable that the Labour MPs wish to avoid a repeat of this and are thinking strategically. When Corbyn says he is an election winner, that is among the Labour membership, not the population at large. I think it is unlikely that the British (specifically English) political landscape will move to the left sufficiently that Corbyn can win a general election -- particularly in the swing constituencies, although it is good to dream.

    In my lifetime, the only Labour leader to lead Labour to a general election victory was Tony Blair. Although his terrible legacy in Iraq etc. suggests voting in a right wing Labour government is pointless, he did good things domestically -- introducing the minimum wage, reducing child poverty, sure-start services for disadvantaged children, abolishing hereditary peers, investing in the National Health Service -- none of which would have happened under the Tories. Labour needs to ditch the warmongering, but appeal to enough voters to win a general election in order to implement progressive policies.

  3. mnb0 says

    “despite the fact that Corbyn won with a huge majority, larger than before, by a vote from party members”
    Come on, MS, don’t you recognize the fallacy here? Who says that the party members are representative for the voters? I just looked it up -- Labour has 515 000 members.

  4. Milton says

    Fred and mnbo make valid points, but they are not the full picture.

    For example, on the day of the last general election the party membership stood at around 200,000. The leadership election which followed, and Corbyn’s leadership since then has brought in an extra 315,000 members. I would ask why these people have decided to join a political party (the majority for the first time) now? And I’d posit many felt that previously no party represented their views or interests, or that all the parties were too similar, or that all politicians were to some degree fake/insincere/liars, or some combination of those.

    Another fact omitted is that participation in the last general election was at 65%, so 35% of voters sat it out. Again -- why? Might many of that 35% have similar feelings about the choices that were available to them as the 300,000+ new party members? Is it possible that a genuine choice between parties, a genuine leader who (whatever his faults) is seen as honest and principled, and a platform representing the views and interests of that third of the electorate might inspire a large enough number of previous non-voters to actually win?

    The answer may be “no”. That is a distinct possibility, but nobody in the media is asking those questions, let alone trying to answer them. Which means neither is anyone making a strong argument for why Corbyn *can’t* win. They just repeat it as an established fact.

    All the media, and all the arguments (including Fred’s and mnbo’s) are ignoring (dare one say “writing off”) one third of the electorate. Just as UK governments have done for close to 40 years.

    I’d only add that the brexit vote was swayed, to the utter shock of these same media commentators, by just such an ignored/written off segment of the population.

  5. KG says


    Full disclosure: I’m a member of a rival party (the Scottish Green Party), and a win for Owen Who? would probably have prompted defections from Labour to us, and on a considerably larger scale to our sister party in England and Wales. And I’m not a great admirer of Corbyn -- notably, he completely failed to grasp the importance of articulating a left case for staying in the EU. However, I’m still pleased he won: having a leader of the opposition at Westminster who actually opposes neoliberal “austerity” and militarism outweighs mere party advantage -- and his PLP enemies have been exposed as incompetents who can’t even organise a coup.

    The very low Labour poll ratings are not necessarily a response to Corbyn, so much as to an obviously disunited party. The majority of the PLP made no good-faith attempt to find a workable compromise with Corbyn -- they made clear from the start that they wanted him out, and despised their own party membership for voting him in. Admittedly, it’s hard to see how such a compromise could be achieved, since Corbyn’s opponents are neoliberals and he’s a socialist. The whole sequence of events is rich in ironies: the one-member one-vote election for the leader was pushed through by the right because in the leadership election before Corbyn’s first victory, Ed Miliband was elected over his slightly-more-rightwing brother David due to trades union votes. The right thought they could dish the lefty union leaders, and expected the membership to choose an acceptably Blairish candidate -- they were after all given three to choose from. Moreover, Corbyn was only able to stand in his first leadership election because a few Labour MPs nominated him although they had no intention of voting for him -- and by all accounts, he did not expect to win.

    he [Bliar] did good things domestically

    Admittedly -- although contrary to your claim he did not abolish hereditary peerages, merely reduced the numbers. (But I admit it’s a good joke that the only members of the House of Lords who are elected by anyone are now the hereditary peers elected by, er, their peers!) But he also did very bad thnigs domestically -- continued privatisations, PFI, further marketisation of the NHS, ending free higher education (except in Scotland, where we still have it), expanding religious schools…

  6. KG says


    As Milton@4 says, your point is sound, but… The huge rise in membership means Labour is now the largest political party in western Europe -- and has brought in a lot of money and, one would think, a lot of people prepared to do some of the hard work of electoral politics. Admittedly, it’s hard to see Labour winning the next election -- but that would in fact be true whoever the leader was. Labour tried the “Don’t frighten the establishment” strategy in 2015, and got slaughtered; and so-called “centre-left” parties are in crisis throughout Europe, because they have no answers to globalization, the decline of the organized working class, and the neoliberal ideological onslaught. Corbyn -- and a considerably younger and feistier successor from the left, if the right can be prevented from recapturing the party (in which endeavour we can expect some very dirty tricks) would at least shift the famous “Overton window”. And since neoliberalism is on course to destroy civilization through its abject failure to take climate change seriously, and the Trumpists and other right alternatives are utterly vile, opening up the political discourse to the left is absolutely essential.

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