Whatever Corbyn’s enemies say, he knows exactly what went wrong. And he’s not afraid to say it.

Jeremy Corbyn
Ed Sykes

Outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gave an interview on 27 March. He seemed to have a very clear idea of what went wrong under his leadership. It’s not what his enemies in the party want you to think.

Corbyn pointed to the “unprecedented level of abuse from the mainstream media” that he has consistently faced in the last five years as a big factor that undermined him. But he also looked closer to home, saying:

You make appointments that don’t particularly work out; you give faith in people that don’t necessarily return it too well; and you sometimes make judgement mistakes.

Was he referring to the people who left his shadow cabinet en masse back in 2016? The supposed allies who constantly undermined his leadership and smeared him? Or the hardline remainers on his team who pushed him to go back on the 2017 commitment to respecting the Brexit referendum? He didn’t clarify. But he was correct to highlight that some of the biggest obstacles he faced came from his own party.

The Labour coup plotters

The establishment favourite to replace Corbyn is Keir Starmer. The shadow Brexit secretary never favoured Corbyn as leader, and resigned during the failed parliamentary coup attempt of 2016. Fellow leadership hopeful Lisa Nandy didn’t favour Corbyn either, and also left the shadow cabinet in 2016. She even became co-chair of Owen Smith’s dire leadership campaign (which openly called for a second Brexit referendum).

Under Corbyn, Labour membership grew to over 500,000 – the biggest number since the 1970s. Yet many Labour MPs wanted Corbyn gone asap – despite the membership overwhelmingly backing him. He had tried to bring different wings of the party together in his shadow cabinet, and supposed allies repaid him by trying to get rid of him just a year after his election. As he said in the BBC interview:

I spend a lot of my life listening to people, and try and move us and persuade people along in a particular direction. I do not believe in leadership by dictatorship – I believe in leadership by bringing people together.

That’s a highly respectable and democratic position. Because alliances are necessary in politics. But perhaps the lesson from Corbyn now is that unity doesn’t mean giving faith in people who haven’t earned it.

Never forget 2017

The party’s 2017 election campaign was largely successful despite the coup attempt, with Labour increasing its vote share more than it had under any other leader since 1945. But two years of smears and sabotage later, the big difference in the 2019 election was that Labour centrists like Keir Starmer succeeded in pushing Corbyn into a second-referendum policy which some believe played a massive role in Labour’s nightmare result. This was perhaps one of Corbyn’s biggest “judgement mistakes”.

2017 was a good example of clear progressive leadership – backed by ordinary people – that trusts its instincts and doesn’t let extreme-centrist sabotage win. To get the Conservative Party out of power, progressives must remember that. Alliances are necessary. But in the end, we need to trust our instincts and defend them to the hilt.

Featured image via BBC

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  • Show Comments
    1. Corbyn was a phenomenon and a man for his time but they foiled him. Mass killers like Blair, greedy scroungers like Branson and Murdoch, a man who berates immigrants after he gave up his own Australian citizenship to own British media, then gave up his British citizenship so he could own American media, So there’s no person on the planet as stateless and immigrant as Murdoch is.

      Then there’s Corbyn’s own party, like the corrupt Starmer, letting off high-profile people in cases he said were “not in the public interest”. So rotten he stinks. He’ll likely kill the Labour Party, because why would the middle classes vote for Tory-lite when they’ve got Tory-heavy? But he will have killed the opposition to neo-liberalism to give us a one-party state with two right wings. We need something very different.

    2. Isn’t it lucky Corbyn didn’t win in December?
      We’d have had economic collapse, education shut down, queues for food, Stalinist laws restricting our freedom, and a ban on nights out.
      Oh wait….

    3. Corbyn never had a chance Blair seen to that but untill this party has a clear out of red tie Tory’s then we the peasants have will get a labour control one but we see the new members who signed up melt away if that shithawk stammer gets in

    4. Oi Ed, listen the f up. STOP whining about the sensible Corbyn Brexshit position. DO recall that 47% of the country voted to REMAIN. DO remember that the Tories created “the Brexshit Party” SPECIFICALLY to steal Labour votes. DO remember that most Brexshit voters couldn’t give a rat’s arse about what “Brexshit” actually meant in practice, they just wanted to piss of the ‘liberal elite gobshites’ such as myself (Which is why NONE of them could ever point to a single actual policy change leaving will bring). DO remember that Corbyn was a Lexiter, and in an honest media environment the Brexshit voters would have been happy with his position. DO remember that had the Party not backed a 2nd Ref (WHICH, BTW – could have gone to Brexshit, could it not?), not only was that deeply undemocratic to prevent a change of mind 3-4 years later, but Labour would have lost many Remain votes TOO! Recall that half of the population you are writing off?

      DO remember that the Brexshit Party was funded by ‘dark money’ largely from abroad. DO remember that in 100s of critical swing seats, MILLIONS of new postal ballots were applied for in the weeks to the Election. DO realise that most of them were fraudulent – and that this obvious crime is not being investigated by the Elections Commission. DO recall that the Tories and Farage do not give two ducks about ‘fighting clean’, morality, common human decency, honesty, Laws.

      Especially ones where they can block investigations.

      And isn’t it funny that a political bloc of reactionaries foamed at the mouth at every mention of “A 2nd referendum” – and yet misused a GENERAL ELECTION into that very poll? Have you thought about that as well?

      In short, quit with the uberBrexshit crap, and smell the coffee on a massive, industrial scale vote-rigging, foreign interference, and election-stealing crime. And why that isn’t being investigated.

      Because you’re a good writer, and your heart’s in the right place. It’s just the donkey you’re beating is not only dead, but wasn’t the one that pissed in the water bowl to begin with. So to speak.

      https://rickycoxon.wordpress.com/2020/01/13/why-did-labour-lose/

    5. Watched one of Trump’s entourage on TV the other night. Bulldozing, denying, bluffing, defying criticism etc etc. And yet the BBC interviewer treated them with more deference and respect than Corbyn.

      I know this is a controversial opinion, and others will say ‘we don’t want to take our example from Trump, that it’s not Jeremy’s peaceful nature’ and so on. I know that. But I still wish that Jeremy could have behaved just a tad more in that way. So when a TV presenter might have said about the alleged ‘a/s crisis’, the answer might have been, “‘I’ll believe you’re concerned with a/s if YOU say here and now, YOU think it’s unacceptable everywhere and YOU are enabling a/s by focussing on Labour. YOU are in denial and should be sacked.” Too late now. I still respect Jeremy like no other politician greatly, but, unfortunately, I have lost all respect for those who smeared him, in or out of the Labour Party.

    6. An opportunity lost. I waited 52 years for a politician who could really change things for the better and we blew it with the help of the lying BBC among others. It won’t happen again in my lifetime. 1984 here we come.

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