This is a cross-post by John Wall
In Summer 2017 Jeremy Corbyn was riding high after a better than expected election performance largely silenced his critics. He basked in the adulation at Glastonbury and predicted being in Downing Street by Christmas and cancelling the Trident replacement.
A second election in 2017 may have been his best chance as the polls have subsequently stagnated but, in terms of who’d make the best PM, his ratings are below both the diminished May and Don’t Know.
He’s been found out, when his far-left ideology encountered the real world, such as over Salisbury and Syria it’s been found wanting, and his past, spent in some extremely unpleasant places, has caught up with him.
Corbyn comes from the part of the left that fifty to sixty years ago looked for new “struggles” and found a simplistic anti-imperialism, with the US, in particular, seen as the root of all evil which was then coupled with a division into oppressors and the oppressed.
The irony is that as they’re seen as “against” the US, Russia and China, both with poor human rights records and probably the most aggressive, expansionist, imperialist countries, receive little attention.
US support for Israel, however, means that many Corbynistas are obsessed with the conflict with the Palestinians and have a virulent hatred of Israel. There is a desperate need for a settlement but it’s important to remember that it’s fundamentally about land and borders, and not unique.
Although not a fan I have a sneaking regard for Blair, but it’s not always remembered that he (b. 1953) and Corbyn (b. 1949) are contemporaries who both entered Parliament in 1983. Blair accepted that the world had changed whereas Corbyn backed Benn against Kinnock in 1988.
From the Corbynite worldview of:
“…defining opponents as not belonging rather than seeking to win them over. Opponents are constructed as being outside of the community of the good or the progressive. This licenses their treatment as ‘other’, impermeable to political argument, reason and evidence.”
it’s possible to understand why Blair built bridges and made friends while Corbyn erects walls and makes enemies.
Blair won over Murdoch but Corbyn threatens the press. This is an ideologically driven own goal as circulations have dropped dramatically; the Sun and Telegraph lost over 60% between 1997 and 2018 – and the reduction is continuing. Blair got into bed with a giant, Corbyn picks a fight with dwarves!
The mightiest beast can be brought down by a pack of smaller animals so when the Mail (circulation down over 40% since 1997 and still falling!) went to a Tunisian cemetery to establish the location of recently discovered pictures the story was picked up by the rest of the media.
Corbyn’s 2017 conference speech mocked the Mail for devoting:
“fourteen pages to attacking the Labour Party. And our vote went up nearly 10%.”
and then asked:
“next time, please could you make it 28 pages?”
So it’s hypocritical to complain about “wreathgate”.
British Jews, many of whom once considered Labour their natural home, are now outside the “community of the good” and I’ve asked whether the Corbynista Many need the Jew? The sight of Luciana Berger with a police escort, together with other events, meant that his conference speech hasn’t convinced mainstream Jewry. As one rabbi noted, Jews are like canaries and considering the history it’s not surprising.
In the 1990s New Labour had the (in)famous prawn cocktail offensive, but Corbyn hates business and despite the effect on take wants to increase tax. The announcement of a thinly disguised tax grab means it’s not surprising that business fears a Corbyn government almost as much as Brexit.
Peter Mandelson was once “relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they pay their taxes” but, although more than a quarter of income tax is paid by the 1% of taxpayers with the highest incomes, Corbyn wants them to pay more. His “little bit more” would inevitably become a lot more, particularly with the size of the financial hole in the “fully costed” manifesto, leading to an exodus and either a scaling back of his programme or a vicious spiral of tax rises leading to a further exodus leading to more tax rises…..
It’s not immediately obvious but it’s as important to avoid alienating people and making them vote against you as it is to provide reasons for them to support you, there is at least anecdotal evidence that fox hunting hurt the Conservatives in 2017 – a mistake they won’t repeat.
Immediately after the 2017 election I asked if Corbyn’s elastic had stretched as far as it can? Little has changed as Corbynistas believe that “outsiders” should come to the “community of the good”, Corbynism isn’t going to them.
When the Conservatives rattle the tin it will fill quickly.
Corbynism is a variation of the Law of Inverse Relevance as it often does the opposite of what it claims.
Chris Williamson’s Deselection, sorry Democracy Roadshow and his call for anti-Corbyn MPs to “resign or be replaced” shows that Labour is losing any pretence of being a broad church. The changes to MP (re)selection, although not as far reaching as some would like, have made it easier to get rid of Corbynsceptics and some online Corbynistas are eager to start purging.
Corbyn and his supporters frequently assert his life-long support for peace, opposition to violence, etc, etc – but if it was obvious they wouldn’t have to and the claims are difficult to substantiate.
The anti-imperialist, oppressor/oppressed, “community of the good” worldview explains his position during the Northern Ireland “troubles”. Despite repeatedly “honouring” terrorists there’s little contemporary evidence for a similar attitude towards their victims, the IRA were in the “community of the good”, anyone else didn’t matter.
His position on the Middle East is similar and he’s happily shared platforms with antisemites, holocaust deniers and those committed to the destruction of Israel, whilst having little contact with Israelis.
There is little doubt that Corbyn laid a wreath on the grave of someone involved with the torture and massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and it’s reasonable to assume that he knew what he was doing; the Israeli athletes were outside the “community of the good” and irrelevant.
This appears callous but it’s the consequence of decades in far-left echo chambers, virtue signalling with those who share your views.
There are several routes to peace and although remembered as a war leader Churchill rightly believed that jaw-jaw was better than war-war.
WW2 cost tens of millions of lives and massive destruction; were those Corbyn supports successful it would also cost a bloodbath.
Team Corbyn’s responses to revelations are instructive. One tack was denial, i.e., lying, in the hope that this would be believed.
Wreathgate was denied in May 2017. When pictures of Corbyn with a wreath by the Munich terrorist graves surfaced he “didn’t think” he was involved, then admitted having laid a wreath, but on other graves, despite pictures showing a different wreath with him in the background.
It’s hardly surprising that his claim about Israel “scripting” speeches for MPs was found to be fiction.
Alternatively, as Hirsh explains, they “avoid debate over ideas and policies. Instead it defines itself as the community of the good and it positions its opponents and its critics as being outside of that community.” This can easily be seen by observing the likes of Chris Williamson or Owen Jones.
First is the mantra, usually repeated, of “Jeremy has campaigned for/against A, B or C all his life”.
Then come the attacks and smears; they’re a “right winger”, don’t want a Labour Government “for the many not the few”, etc, etc.
Finally there’s a rant about the failings of the Tories and how wonderful a Corbyn government would be “for the many not the few”.
This usually fills the limited time allocated on most news and current affairs programmes.
Corbyn is an excellent example of why organisations ask about skeletons in the cupboard, he has a lot of both. During the summer he campaigned on……I don’t recall as it was overshadowed by wreathgate.
His interview on conference Sunday, with a prepared Marr (Corbyn had previously left with his pants on fire), was dominated by antisemitism. Subsequently Snow, considered supportive, grilled him on his Press TV appearances, resulting in Corbyn lying and he then dodged the early morning interviews before his speech.
Many commentators, from across the spectrum, believe that Labour should be way ahead in the polls, but this is the result of the messenger becoming the story.
Elections are usually decided on domestic issues, amateur meddling in foreign affairs is a distraction. A resolution of the Israel – Palestine conflict won’t happen by uncritically backing one side, the Palestinians need advocates but bridges have to be built to the Israelis so that both sides can be told difficult truths.
The “community of the good” philosophy might purge dissenters and there may be some groups, such as Jews, who won’t be missed but it gives an unappealing impression of intolerant exclusivity.
The size and role of the state and level of taxation are valid debates but the anti-business, wealth and wealth creation rhetoric alienates those who follow the spirit as well as the letter of the law.
Softening the rhetoric would be beneficial, but this is largely what defines Corbyn.
There have been rumours of the Parliamentary Party trying another vote of confidence, but the deselection vultures are circling and the lesson of 2016 argues against success.
According to Neil Coyle Labour lost 18,000 members in the first three months of 2018, but another MP found “that while his local party membership was at a record high of 300, 200 members had left since Corbyn took over as leader” suggesting that the membership is moving further left.
From proposals to limit the power of the deputy should the leader quit it’s clear that some see the benefits of a different leader but, although his support has reduced many Corbynistas have a massive investment in “Jeremy” and either approve of, excuse, or aren’t worried by his “baggage”; every new revelation is another “smear”.
In the 1930s the unions removed Lansbury but they’ve shrunk and a mass membership makes their financial support less important, but they’re unlikely to withdraw it. Barons in grey suits wouldn’t achieve much.
MPs and unions have continual contact with thousands outside the far-left echo chamber, but the ongoing power shift is strengthening those furthest from reality and ensuring that the very people the country needs the most are the ones least likely to be involved in the party.