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July 19, 2016


Ian Leslie

"Labour does not need a leader so overconfident that he thinks Labour can win an election on the basis of the leader’s force of personality alone." Yes and thank goodness that doesn't apply to Jeremy Corbyn or any of his supporters.


Join the club Chris. Our hero is Labour's democratic structure and it is under attack. I hope whoever wins all newly engaged members don't lose heart.

Christopher Rogers

May we look at all this rationally, and the message comes from someone who is an organiser and does have knowledge of both management and executing large scale events at an international level.

For this observer, and indeed supporter of Mr Corbyn, I willingly accept much of the criticism thrown at him, but I honestly believe its not Corbyn himself who's at fault.

Lets do some comparative analysis to underscore my point.

In 1997 a very inexperienced Tony Blair became PM and much of his Cabinet ranks were filled with many with zero experience of working as a Cabinet Minister within the Executive system, a fact we can all agree on. Despite this fact, governance did not implode because we have a senior civil service on hand at actually assist with the Executive management and governance itself. Indeed, we have transitional teams in place for any new incoming administration.

Now, the Labour Party and PLP are actually mirror to some extent on the system that exists, that is, experts should have been on hand to assist Corbyn in transitioning from a backbench rebel to the leadership role within the PLP and Labour party itself - obviously, Corbyn need to knit together a small, cohesive inner circle, but assistance existed, also was it actually ever supplied?

I raise this point because before he even was announced as Party leader moves had been made to unseat him as swiftly as possible, and part of these machinations was to deny him the urgent assistance and experience necessary to transition in to the leadership role.

Further, and actually from inside accounts, i can instruct you that from a very early date Team Corbyn was alert to coup attempts and forced to put in place planes to actually diffuse and navigate these, again meaning governance and Party management being diluted.

To suggest Corbyn is hopeless, tyrannical or not a team player is nonsense, given as Geoffrey Howe said of Thatcher in his famous resignation speech, that Corbyn was hands a broken bat to actually perform his duty with, never mind all other obstacles purposefully placed in front of him.

Just think, just think if Corbyn had been given the necessary tools and support what may have been possible, instead we had a series of tests.

May I ask, who are these persons who set tests, because they certainly were not elected by the members, nor may i add by the CLPs, no it was the Bitterites who set the tests and manufactured from day one a self fulling prophecy - AND YET THEY BLAME CORBYN.

Roy Lonergan

This, from Chris Mullin, is worth a read:


Richard Fort


I think we do the best with what we have and what we have is Corbyn. As you rightly say, the risk of any alternative is a retreat away from the delicate, fragile, space created by Corbyn: one where austerity is treated with the contempt it deserves, where refugees and immigrants are treated as human beings, where the warmongers are given short shrift.

Moreover, Corbyn's strategy - and the mere fact of possessing on massively differentiates him and his team from the PLP - is ambitious in its scale: to create a broad-based, movementist, political party, founded on grassroots democracy. This goes beyond the electoralism of the PLP (which is still important).

There is a tension between this strategy and the shorter-term electoral cycle: if he loses in 2020 (or before), it will be a very large setback, no doubt. But if he loses in this struggle with the PLP and party machine, the nascent movement may founder.

If you think this is a good thing, then it seems as if you have no choice but to support him. What form that support takes, beyond shelling out £25 to vote, is unclear, but I expect it will require new members to join meetings, make friends, win arguments. This is the hard work that is needed.

Corbyn needs the masses. The masses need Corbyn.


Judging from some of the reasons cited in support of Eagle, Labour is in fact holding out for a heroine. Is wanting a female leader because Labour has never had one just another from of magical thinking in this case?

Mike Hart

In the fog of war it is difficult to tell if the terrible tales of Corbyn are true or not.

What we do know is that this is a clash between the neoliberal wing and the socialist wing. That's the choice.

Although the neoliberals say Corbyn can't win an election, I don't think they can either. What have they got to offer? More privatisation? More corporate dominance? More job insecurity? We can see support bleeding away from this sort of programme.

So it seems to me both morally and practically, we need to take a risk and go for Corbyn's vision.

Fortune favours the bold!

Dave Hansell

Chris Rogers has nailed this above. No matter how good an organiser anyone is it impossible to function effectively when so many in the upper echelons of the party are overtly and covertly working against you.

The problem for these people is not Corbyn, it's the policy platform. The behaviour of a minority of Party members in positions of power and influence over the past year and more recently is that of people who would rather see the Party destroyed than adopt any position not orthodox to the TINA doctrine. It's scorched earth on behalf of the British establishment to which these people owe their first and only real loyalty.

Does anyone really believe that a former lobbyist for big pharma and a privatised NHS like Owen Smith represents a progressive option? Seriously?

Or that in the current situation, engineered by entryists into the party, in which democracy is under direct attack, that a ballot result which delivers anyone but Corbyn will not result in a continuation of the suspension of Ward and CLP meetings and a witch hunt and mass purge of members accused of any old shit that will be made up on the spot?

Moreover, after nearly 12 months of this behaviour and the obvious gerrymandering of the Party democracy, along with the antics and serial terminological in exactitudes eminating from within the anti democratic section of the PLP, up to and including the Deputy Leader ( who, judging from his world at one interview on radio 4 yesterday, seems to be under the impression he is a reincarnation of Woodrow Wyatt), that a sufficient number of registered electors are going to vote into Government and trust the Country's democracy with people who play fast and loose with it and view them, the electorate in the constituencies, as mere voting fodder.

No evidence follows the meaningless sheep like repetition that Corbyn, or the platform of policies he represents, is unelectable.

However, there is sufficient evidence, clear to a blind man on a galloping horse, that those responsible for engineering this no confidence leadership coup have less chance of being electable than Hannible Lector becoming a vegetarian. They have lost Scotland for Labour by taking the electorate for granted and disdainfully thinking they can garner their votes indefinately whilst at the same time ignoring them unless one or two happen to agree with their acting in the interests of corporate lobbyists and lining up a cushy directorship or two after they have finished playing at being representatives.

They have lost many of the traditional Labour heartlands in England and Wales in the same way. Leaving the communities to tot following their failure to offer an alternative to the destruction of the industries which sustained those communities over a three and a half decade period and hoping that a bit of EU regeneration money would be a realistic substitute. Since the aftermath of the financial crash in 2008 to 2010 the West Midlands region GDP per head plunged only just above that of Greece, whilst South Yorkshire GDP be head was below of Greece between 2001 and 2011. And that was after £1 billion of Objective one EU funding was given to the region at the turn of the Century.

Both these regions voted out in the EU referendum, along with many other traditional Labour areas, including that of the Labour MP tasked with leading the Labour Party Remain Campaign, Alan Johnson in Hull, who chose to blame his own Party leader for his own failings.

The idea that these people and there ideas and policies are electable is simply delusional. If they fon't understand that they are clearly unhinged and not fit for office never mind leadership. If they are aware, and they are not all as unintelligent as a bag of pork scratchings, than they are knowingly and deliberately sabataging the Party because they do not believe in any realistic and progressive alternative to the current status quo which is unsustainable and cannot survive if the country itself snd the people in it, is to survive.

Under the current context the choice, for those allowed it, is a no brainer.

Billy H

I voted for Corbyn and rejoined the party when he was elected to lead.

It was always a bit of a risk but I thought he was worth a punt and deemed that something to shake Labour out of its torpor would be no bad thing. I actually think he’s done that, which he deserves great credit for. And that’s where it should end. It’s become obvious to me – particularly over the last month or so – that he really is hopelessly out of his depth and is presenting a crippling and potentially fatal obstacle to Labour becoming a proper party of opposition. A leader who cannot lead his PLP is really no leader at all. There are other obvious failings, but it’s his job to organise and lead the party at Westminster and in this alone he has disastrously failed.

For the good of the party, I think he has to go. His replacement shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater though. Corbyn’s instincts are generally sound and the infusion of new members should be embraced.


"But I’m not sure this is wholly a bad thing: is envelope-stuffing and canvassing really so effective?"
I want to pick up on this, it might be correct that envelope-stuffing and doorstep canvassing has had its day but I do know that in Leicester we held three parlimentary seats, returned 52 of 54 Labour councillors (all with increased majorities), a Labour PCC and a remain vote by door knocking, leaflet delivery and similar grass roots efforts done by local activists.
Do you think the methods and results are related?


The theory:
"Labour needs a... social movement which can put a leftist case in millions of individual conversations in pubs, workplaces and online."

The practice:
"In the fog of war it is difficult to tell if the terrible tales of Corbyn are true or not."

The social movement is overtly aggressive of anyone who doesn't share its partisan worldview, prefers comforting fantasies to hard realities, and hates it when women speak out. Or indeed when anyone speaks out to criticise the leader, in which case the vitriol is only matched by the denial (as per the second quote above).

Many Corbyn supporters hate their comrades on the left, and many decent left-wing people want nothing to do with them. This is exceptionally poor material out of which to build a social movement.

Christopher Rogers

The Theory,

It would be nice and most respectful if the author, namely Mr Theory, actually had the temerity to put their real name with their opinion given claims being made, namely the Left are at each others throats.

I ask this because there seems to be some misconception that Owen Smith, the now single challenger against Corbyn, which effectively is another PLP stitch-up, is allegedly leftwing, which by my limited understanding he most definitely is not.

For anyone having issues with who to vote for or concerns about Corbyn, many of which i share, I'm afraid under no circumstances can I allow the Party to fall back into the hands of the Blair-wing or right of the Party.

As someone raised in South Wales I can assure you their is nothing typical about Owen Smith, quite the reverse, his family, as with Kinnocks' are part of the Welsh Labour Taffia and have effectively closed down democracy in South Wales. I'd ask people to look at the respective size of CLP's, those active within them and look at the decaying Labour vote over the past three election cycles, and then as why is Labour losing votes and then understand it because our MPs are actually completely out of touch with our lives and our realities.

If you think Smith is a 'unity' candidate, well that may apply for much of the PLP, but many of us members don't want Smith and are sick and tired of PLP stitch-ups and PLP cowardice.

The choice is simple, either we wish to offer the UK electorate a choice, a choice between two different visions of the UK, or we continue acting as a Tory Party MKII.

If I want a Tory government I'll vote Tory, but where do I vote if I don't want Tory, for with Smith in charge of Labour my vote will be going elsewhere - Smith being described as more of a Blair than Blair himself in 2006.

Its for members to make their own minds up, but I'm not one for stitch-up and opposed to the dictatorship that effectively is now the PLP and NEC.

Ralph Musgrave

Oh here we go again: Chris claims anyone with concerns about immigration is a quasi-racist. Hey why not a full blooded 100% racist?

My response to the latter thick headed and totally moronic claim is that anyone who favors mass immigration is a pedophile. Plus they're in favour of Charlie Hebdo / Nice type atrocities.

When I really try hard, I can sink to the moronic stupidity displayed by half the political left.

Igor Belanov

Labour finds itself in a situation which I'd argue is unique in British party politics, and you're quite right in suggesting that there is no hero with a magic wand to rectify the situation.

There are several traits that different people have expected from a Labour leader. I'd classify them as:
i) popularity with the wider electorate;
ii) the ability to appease and/or manipulate the mass media;
iii) the ability to unify the party through compromise or discipline;
iv) inspiring and empowering potential and current activists and members;
v) defending and representing the short-term interests of working people;
vi) maintaining the 'traditional' causes and principles of the labour movement and democratic socialism.

Back in 1994 the majority of the Labour Party decided that winning a general election was the overwhelming priority and favoured a leader who possessed i and ii. This worked in the short-term, but Blair polluted political discourse and left-wing politics so much that his particular 'qualities' had groomed a party that was unable to win elections and whose members and supporters desperately wanted someone who could embody the latter set of leadership traits. Thus Corbyn has taken the position. Even though he comes short on the other characteristics, there is virtually no-one else in the party who can demonstrate ability over the whole range of points, and crucially there is not even anyone who can achieve the 'presentational' (one might say salesmanship) skills that Blair offered.

The real block to anyone becoming an effective Labour leader is point iii. There is very little chance that anyone could unite the party through compromise or discipline while avoiding a massive split or the complete and final abandonment of the traditional left-wing traditions and ethos. This leadership campaign isn't about leadership at all. It is a bitterly contested divorce settlement.


«a clash between the neoliberal wing and the socialist wing»

That's not quite correct: it is the "mild social democrat wing", not "socialist wing".

Sure J Corbyn spent 30 years posing a lot as a "gesture socialist", and still does as in «attending a Cuba solidarity meeting at the height of the political crisis» or aiming to reintroduce "Clause 4".

But his policies are solidly and mildly social democratic, and even his challenger, A Eagle, could not explain which of his policies she would change.

Ah the only one that has come up is Trident, but that, except for the massive waste of public money, is pure "gesture politics" on both sides of parliament and of the labour party.

And the recent debate as a journalist in The Guardian today reminded us was just a showpiece tacitly agreed between conservatives and new labourists to undermine J Corbyn, as the decision about Trident was taken in 2009 (by New Labour).


«There’s a general lack of vigour about him»

He is old... :-)

Therefore he is wise: given that *almost always* UK elections are lost by the incumbent party rather than won by the opposition, his age has given him the wisdom to stay out of the way and say as little as possible while the Conservatives massacre each other in public with such comical shenaningans.

Except that his internal enemies are not as wise.


I think the new members *are* going to meetings, knocking on doors and delivering leaflets. (I know because I'm one of them.) Not every one of them, certainly, but what percentage of pre-2015 members are actualy active in these ways?

I also think it's worth remembering that there's a rooted opposition from the millionaire-funded wing of the party to both of Corbynism's key achievements; a Progress victory would give us a Westminster-driven party committed to shrinking the state (and waiting for the Tories to disintegrate so as to have a chance of winning an election).

There's a lot to be said against Corbyn, but so much of it ends up with him being more sinned against than sinning. He needs to be able to run a team - but he needs to *have* a team. He needs to be able to work a political/PR machine - but he needs to *have* a machine. And so on.


«This, from Chris Mullin, is worth a read»

It is an interesting read and mostly sensible, but there are some big problems with his conclusions.

The first is that given that he admits that «three pleasant but lacklustre candidates» were the alternatives, has anybody else emerged that could be expected to do better than him? I don't think so.

The second is that so far he has been a winner, as he has generated enthusiasm from supporters, and the party's electoral fortunes have been a bit boosted under him:

* 2/3 of both Labour and SNP voters followed their leaders and voted "Remain" even if "Leave" was obviously far more popular in England.
* By-eelections and local elections have gone fairly well overall for Labour in the past several months.

Let's not forget that the Euro-MP elections UKIP came first in 2014 and second, ahead of New Labour, in 2009, and nothing happened the leaders at that time...

Sometimes I suspect that it is precisely his electoral success, or lack of electoral meltdown, that motivates his enemies: they may be terrified that if it continues mildly centrist social-democratic politics may again find political expression and success in the UK.

Maybe the new labourist principle is "vote as you wish as long as we do the nominating", that is "personnel is policy".

Christopher Rogers

All this talk of splits is most annoying, whilst I'd certainly be pleased if the rabid Bitterites exited the Party and join with their peers in the Tory Party, by all accounts up to 50 of the buggers, that still leaves some 180 Labour MPs who need to agree on getting along with each other.

It appears to me that strategy seems absent from the Plotters, for anyone who looked at matters strategically it always seemed self evident to me that Corbyn may not lead Labour in a General election, rather, his importance and priority seemed to be about transforming the Party and having it re-connect with its roots again.

it was always my opinion in voting for Corbyn that he'd stand down close to the 2020 Election and let a new face lead the party with policies a democratised party agreed upon.

For my money, I'm keeping my eye on Emily Thornberry, who ticks many boxes I deem important and who'd be a good replacement for JC if he departs the stage at his own will, obviously, I cannot support anyone who tries to depose the elected leader of the Party, which to me is an affront to democracy, but I too desire to win the next election and Owen Smith has zero chance of this, hence, best stick with JC and see what pans out, but certainly not negative about Labour's chances given at least two of his Shadow Cabinet are highly competent and appear 'centrists' to me, they are also astute enough not to upset the membership, which augers well for this activist.


What is the alternative?


"As chief lobbyist for Pfizer, Smith actively pushed for privatisation of NHS services. This is not something Pfizer did very openly, and you have to search the evidence carefully. Footnotes often tell you what is really happening, as in this press release in which Owen Smith says of a Pfizer funded “focus group” study:

We believe that choice is a good thing and that patients and healthcare professionals should be at the heart of developing the agenda.
You have to look at the footnotes to see what kind of choice Owen Smith is actually talking about. Note to Editors 3 includes

“The focus groups also explored areas of choice that do not yet exist in the UK – most specifically the use of direct payments and the ability to choose to go directly to a specialist without first having to see the GP.”
Well, at least it is clear – direct payments from the public to doctors replacing current NHS services. Smith was promoting straight privatisation. As Head of Policy and Government Relations for Pfizer, Owen Smith was also directly involved in Pfizer’s funding of Blairite right wing entryist group Progress. Pfizer gave Progress £53,000. Progress has actively pursued the agenda of PFI and privatisation of NHS services.

Owen Smith went to Pfizer from a Labour Party job, while Labour were in government, and there is no doubt that his hiring was an example of the corrupt relationship between New Labour and big business which is why the Blairites are so hated by the public. It is also beyond any argument that if Pfizer had any doubts about Owen Smith’s willingness to promote the Big Pharma and NHS Privatisation agenda, they would never have hired him.

Owen Smith is a strong supporter of Trident and assiduously courts the arms industry. He is a regular at defence industry events."


A big problem is that the Labour Party prior to Corbyn has put very right wing individuals in *safe* Labour seats, and that will need to be rectified.

Clearly it cannot be done by discussion, and will have to be done by deselection and election.


«has anybody else emerged that could be expected to do better than him?»

Well, two proposals here:

* What was wrong with Ed Milliband? He did pretty well despite the Conservatives being incumbents with a record of having made house prices boom again.

* The ideal candidate for the new labourists, for "bold leadership": Nick Clegg! :-)


Billy H said: "I voted for Corbyn and rejoined the party when he was elected to lead...[but] For the good of the party, I think he has to go. His replacement shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater though. Corbyn’s instincts are generally sound and the infusion of new members should be embraced."

Billy, that is not going to happen. Smith is in the contest to get a shot at beating the baby's brains out, and that is precisely what he will do if he wins. Then he will sling it, and you, and all the other new members, out with the bathwater.

Ian Leslie

What's truly remarkable - and telling - about this post is that it contains no consideration of voters. Only someone for whom politics is a kind of pleasant intellectual game would make that omission.


«I think he has to go. His replacement»
«Smith is in the contest to get a shot at beating the baby's brains out,»

Indeed as "personnel is policy" J Corbyn's potential replacement is the vital detail here.

Again, *which* replacement? Is there any obvious mild centrist social democrat candidate? Or even an obvious rabid neoliberal one?

I think that it is telling of how far Labour has sunk down the New Labour way that the obvious mild centrist social democrat leader is of a certain age, and had spent 30 years in the wilderness as a "gesture socialist", and despite all this was both overwhelmingly elected by members and largely rejected by the apparatchik.

Dave Hansell

"What's truly remarkable - and telling - about this post is that it contains no consideration of voters. Only someone for whom politics is a kind of pleasant intellectual game would make that omission."

Would these be the shed load of voters in traditional English and Welsh Labour heartlands who voted out in the EU referendum because their communities have been abandoned by those at the top of Labor Party since the early 1980'stages on the grounds that they can be ignored and thrown the occasional bone of EU regeneration money as they have 'nowhere else to go?

Or could it be the hundreds of thousands and more who kicked those following these policies out of office in Scotland?

Are not the hundreds of thousands of people who have joined the Labour Party since an actual alternative to neo liberal economic policies, neo conservative political policies and neo feudal social policies was offered up last year also not part of the electorate.

This comment is delusional if it seriously thinks that the electorate are going to trust a bunch of unprincipled, spivs, chancers, wide boys (and girls), jumped up SPADS and second generation hereditary has beens, who play fast and loose with their own organisational rules and democracy and who give gerrymandering a bad name, with the responsibility of being in charge of the Country's democracy.

Those who claim the kind of policy platform on offer is unelectable without offering a shred of evidence in support of that claim are even more unelectable. They have lost millions of registered voters over the past RECENT General Elections and are desperately trying to convince anyone gullible enough to listen that there are in the region of 320,000 rabid Trots suddenly appearing out of nowhere to take over the Labour Party. It really is pathetic.


My small role in the HS2 issue.

I suggested that purely as a process issue, we could build the link between Birmingham and Old Oak common and usefully operate this link, prior to extending the link to Euston/St Pancras Station/HS1. The purpose was to expedite progress of the project. For the record I had no input to the South Yorkshire changes.

Jeremy would appear to speculating on the possibility of abandoning of the sub-project of linking Old Oak Common to Euston, to appease local (Camden) opposition.

This was wrong, but would have provoked involved further internal discussions. Rather than Jeremy making a formal policy statement.

Again the Health Issue, is a process issue, listening to various voices (the public) is desirable, the relevant Minister should have been invited to the meeting as a matter of course, as well as, as the subject of the complaints. Again this would have provoked further internal discussions.

As Senior Politicians, I would expect Ministers to be more than capable to arguing their own position and prevailing in the argument. This would build confidence in their ability, judgement, and increase their autonomy rather than appeals to status, process, and authority.


Speculation on how to best integrate HS1/HS2.





Here's how you get Corbynism without Corbyn:

1) The large new intake inspired by Corbyn results in sustained leftward shift of party.

2) New MP's and existing soft Left moulded by interaction with this new character of the party over next 4 years. Just as current crop were moulded by Blair.

3) Labour lose in 2020. Corbyn resigns.

4) Party's left strong and deep enough to reject "we told you so" by its right. New leader now drawn from much richer stock.

So, just have to play the long game.

Igor Belanov

Alex wins the optimism award.


"Here's how you get Corbynism without Corbyn"

The sheep in the middle will run home to daddy just as soon as a few of the Blairite shepherds are deselected and the whip withdrawn.

Ray of Light

I really like your article. It is very balanced. You do see to have answered your own question though.
To counter a weight of evidence compiled from people who have real life working experience of Corbyn as leader (who cannot be dismissed as "Blairites" and such) with 'but the people I don't like in Labour will mock and profit from my change of heart', is really in effect, letting these same people you dislike do your thinking for you.
There is nothing to suggest that Owen Smith will actually lead Labour to the Right. His proven track record as Shadow DWP saw Labour mount a fantastic opposition to the Govt, and then contrast this with the Vice footage of Corbyn having no idea how to go in for the kill after IDS handed him Gideon's head on a plate (sorry for the mixed mataphors hahahaha) makes me feel that Smith, not Corbyn, is actually more likely to succeed.
Smith has also built a cross-party group to support the WASPI women, which shows that he can reach out and motivate beyond his personal support. In contrast, Corbyn has a tiny circle around him and only moves to rallies and other supportive environments. Also Owen Smith's background surrounding the Good Friday Agreement, Wales and his appearance at the Scottish Labour conference as a keynote speaker (and he's been campaigning more in Scotland than Corbyn) gives him insight into the post-Brexit tensions in three of the Nation's countries. Corbyn and McDonnell, in contrast, are seen as partisan in NI, have no links I can see to Wales and have done nothing to stop haemorrhaging support in Scotland.
Why Jeremy chose to attack Smith's bona fides in relation to Pfizer (when having nothing to say about May's cabinet, for example) does not show leadership qualities. In response to your Corbynism without Corbyn quandary, I think he missed a great opportunity to negotiate a sideways move to a position where he could concentrate on growing the membership and using that young team he amassed to take Labour's campaigning and image into the digital age, whilst passing on his baton to his successor.
I'll be voting for Smith this time around, but I want Jeremy to be given space to do what he does best: let the public see that Labour MPs are good human beings too!

Ray of Light

In response to Posted by: Bob | July 19, 2016 at 09:03 PM who posted the Blog entry by Craig Murray:

Craig Murray actively promotes the SNP, although I understand they rejected him as a candidate, and goes up and down Scotland talking on subject such as MI5 complete all the Postal Ballots so that the SNP will lose elections, and that Tony Blair "stole" Scottish oil from Scotland because a Statutory Instrument drew a line in the North Sea to say that if you had a fishing dispute to the north of it, you raised your dispute in a Scottish Court, but to the south of it, you raised your action in an English Court (ie jurisdiction).
He presents his rather odd, jaundice views as "facts".
If I posted Cameron's views on Corbyn would any of us feel I had posted a legitimate and credible critique?

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