The Jeremy Corbyn project, and all it represents, is in turmoil. They say things come in threes, and they have. The project could well be days away from imploding entirely. But it’s not over, yet. Here’s what people need to do. Quickly.
I tweeted this on Wednesday 27 February:
Some people weren’t happy. So I thought it best to expand on it.
If the “Corbyn project” (in this context I mean him, his values/vision and his supporters both in and out of parliament) had been hit by one setback, then I don’t think there would have been an issue. Two curve balls, and it might have been a middle sized blip. But three and the damage is looking almost irreparable.
This is why.
The Independent Group
Firstly, let’s deal with The Independent Group (TIG). The fracturing of the Labour Party in this manner was always inevitable. To the ‘moderates’, ‘Blairites’, ‘right-wingers’ or whatever your preferred turn-of-phrase is, a Corbyn-led party was never acceptable. So it was a case of ‘when’, not ‘if’.
Now, we have a small but vocal group of ex-Labour and Tory MPs, supported by much of the press and, in part but quietly, by other Labour and opposition politicians. In isolation, the Corbyn project could have managed this.
The Second Referendum
Secondly, we have the giving in to the ‘FBPE’ and ‘People’s Vote’ campaign. I don’t mean this in terms of holding a so-called ‘Second Referendum’. That has always been Labour’s position. I mean in terms of committing to campaign for Remain during such a vote.
This firstly goes against a previous manifesto commitment from Labour. You can argue that the Brexit process has become so fucked that Labour had no choice but to change course. But for me this doesn’t hold water. Not least because after Tory Election Fraud, a third of the UK electorate not voting at all in general elections and people already feeling politicians don’t represent them, by betraying the EU Referendum result Labour has just helped put the final nail in the coffin of the rotting corpse that is UK democracy.
As I pointed out to George Galloway this week, it also reeks of political tightrope walking. Of the top 25 marginal seats in England and Wales, ones Labour need to target in the next general election, 20 of them voted Leave.
But again, even with the TIG formation, Labour’s decision over a Second Referendum wouldn’t have been a complete disaster. It would have been very problematic, but not a catastrophe.
The Chris Williamson issue
Now, we have the suspension of Chris Williamson. Views are extremely divided on this. For example, the Guardian and Novara ‘middle-class-yet-one-of-us-really’ commentators are taking the line that this is the right thing to do, as his behaviour has been problematic for a while. This has been met with anger by some, who see this as a betrayal by them. Wolves. Sheep. False Prophets. Take your pick of Biblical analogies that people might use in reference to them.
Some believe that Williamson is subject to a witch-hunt for hosting a black, Jewish woman at an event organised by a left wing Jewish group – both of who are not the ‘right kind of Jewish person’. Other’s believe he has been misrepresented, as they say the full video of the Momentum Sheffield event where he made certain comments shows.
I couldn’t possibly comment on any of that.
But Williamson is one of Corbyn’s loyalist and closest allies. So his suspension to many appears to be a capitulation by Corbyn in the face of a growing crisis. Now, again in isolation this could be viewed as a move by Corbyn to further show he is acting on the antisemitism we are led to believe is rife in the Labour Party. I’m not a member so I wouldn’t know. But it would have been a move which may or may not have been a wise one.
Now, put all these three events together, and what have you got?
You have the Corbyn project falling apart at the seams. Again, here’s why.
Firstly, TIG has removed some of his most vocal critics from the Labour Party. But it has placed them in a position of a fairly sizeable position of power and influence. Backed by some of the media, and offering a left wing alternative in England and Wales unavailable before, there is a clear and present danger from them in any upcoming election. If they had remained in the party, they would have been manageable. But now, they’re rogue. It’s left Corbyn weakened.
Secondly, Labour’s Remain Second Referendum position was blatantly a decision removed from Corbyn’s hands. It was instigated by, once again, a group of ‘middle-class-yet-one-of-us-really’ group of MPs – Emily Thronberry and Keir Starmer to name but two – who have publicly bought into the Corbyn project for their own political gain. We’re back to those Biblical analogies, again. They have done this for their own political gain, also – knowing it would destabilise the project. This power-grab has also left Corbyn weakened.
Thirdly, the Williamson decision was also forced upon Corbyn. This time it was by the mainstream media, many of his Shadow Cabinet (again, some out for their own political gain) and some of his inner circle. On Twitter, the likes of Owen Jones have come out saying it was the right decision. Electronic Intifada journalist Asa Winstanley is not convinced by his proclamations:
I couldn’t possibly comment.
But once again, this forcing of Corbyn’s hand has left him weakened.
So, all in all, he has suffered a triple blow of sucker-punches in the space of just over a week. Either he and his inner circle have lost self-confidence in what they are doing, or they believe appeasement, whether right or wrong, is the way forward for the movement.
In my opinion? They have made disastrously wrong-footed moves on all accounts.
Corbyn has been left completely undermined, out-of-control of his own party and politically adrift. He has lost control of all three of these situations, all three of which have now critically damaged the project. To think otherwise is delusional.
So, what can be done?
This is based on these caveats. I couldn’t possibly say if I agree with them:
- The TIG is a self-serving bunch of odious shits who need to be exposed as the politically gravy-training bastards they are.
- A Second Referendum with Remain as an option will only serve to further polarise our already fractured society, alienate many working class people already politically homeless and further embolden the right wing.
- Williamson’s suspension is antisemitism being used as a political weapon by some people so vehemently opposed to the Corbyn project that there’s no barrel they won’t scrape the bottom of.
If you agree with these statements, then the solution is a complex, yet also simple one.
Enough is enough, now. The world, from Trump to Venezuela, from India/Pakistan to the stock markets, from the EU to Sudan and from climate chaos to the genocide of disabled people, is in meltdown. I firmly believe that the corporatist capitalist system we live under is in its death throes. The ravenous opposition to the Corbyn project from the system and its supporters is evidence of this. Not because Corbyn is some ‘Red under the Bed’ communist threat. He’s a democratic socialist for fuck’s sake. But because the project represents a shifting of power into the hands of ordinary people. And that is fucking dangerous for the system and its gatekeepers.
So, if the system is collapsing, then why are we pussyfooting around so much? Moreover, why is the Corbyn project?
To the supporters
Corbyn supporters who understand all of the above: keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t stop. I may not believe Corbyn is the answer, as I’ve always said, but while people are dying in this country he is the best, most immediate solution.
Corbyn supporters who are buying into the ravenous opposition (I see you on my timeline): think about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what’s influencing you. Step back from yourself and look in, because you’re playing into people’s hands without realising it. Also remember just why you became part of the Corbyn project in the first place.
Corbyn supporters who are acting like this isn’t happening: please stop. It’s not helping anyone.
Allegedly Corbyn-supporting journalists and commentators: I’m not wasting my breath on you.
Corbyn. Yes, you, Jeremy: stop pussyfooting around.
I know it’s not in your nature to aggressively fight tooth and nail against those who seek to destroy you. You’re a pacifist, therefore by default you’re sadly far too kind and considerate. But this is beyond a joke. You surely must see what’s happening, here. Moreover, you must see why it’s happening. Whether I fully buy into your project or not, I know that you have the system and the establishment gatekeepers on the run. So now is not the time for capitulation.
Stop this. Come out and say what you really think, what you really believe and do it with conviction. You have a third of the country politically homeless. Working class communities lured inadvertently to the right. These people need you – but they need you to be robust. Quite frankly, with many politicians and most of the press hostile to you – what have you got to lose? Many more MPs to TIG. No bad thing – if you stand firmer.
What endeared you to people in the first place was your honest, refreshing style of politics. We need that back again. And, if that means breaking away from the Labour Party machinery, of which parts are now actively working against you, then so be it. I imagine if I did a nationwide show of hands who’d vote for a new, Corbyn-led party over Labour, you’d get a majority. Have a word with the Greens while you’re about it as well, please.
Too many people need you right now. Not least my chronically ill, disabled girlfriend, who was in tears today over the political and social madness that has been unfolding around you.
We don’t need you to capitulate. We need you to be you.
Time is running out Jeremy. So, what’s it going to be?
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