In Defence of Jeremy Corbyn…

On June 8th, the Labour Party is expected to lose. Its loss, indeed, is all but inevitable. The only thing that is in question is the scale of the defeat.

A great TV series could be made about the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. On his watch, the party has slumped from disaster to disaster; miring itself in endless avoidable controversies and handing the Conservatives an ever-widening lead even as they have endured referendum defeats, resignations, leadership elections and all the uncertainty surrounding the British departure from the European Union.

I have little sympathy for Corbyn, whose economically illiterate leftism and contemptible sympathy for IRA and Islamic extremists would make him unfit for running a town council, never mind a country. Nonetheless, I have a little sympathy. I say that not just because he is a mild eccentric who likes to make jam and photograph drains. I say that because his opposition are insufferable.

By “opposition” I do not mean the Conservatives. I mean his opposition on the left. They talk a big game about “saving Labour” in the aftermath of his defeat but are as bad, or worse, on everything that means that he will lose.

His rebel MPs attack him for being out of touch, uncharismatic and unelectable, yet are the same jokers who thought Owen Smith – remember him? – could lead them to power. They are either as ineffectual as Mr Corbyn or as obnoxious. Why should one be more impressed by Wes Streeting, a combination of Adrian Mole and Pandora Braithwaite, or Jess Phillips, whose astonishing ability to insult her constituents makes Corbyn look like a PR professional. John Mann MP talked up Labour moderates in a column for The Sun and the best that he could say is that Streeting has “film star good looks”, a claim even his mum would think was overstated, and “Phillips  sounds like she has walked off the set of Coronation Street”. Phillips comes from Birmingham. Corrie is set in Manchester. Are they all the same, these provinces?

Then there are the self-styled “centrists” of the commentariat: a curious breed, whose overrepresentation among opinion columnists is greater even than that of people with the name Jolyon. The likes of Dan Hodges, Nick Cohen and Oliver Kamm attack Corbyn for being unattractive to the electorate yet their liberal internationalism – with its combination of military adventurism abroad and all-but-open border immigration at home – would make them as appealing to their average voter as a Great British Bake Off remake starring Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.

As it happens, I would like a functioning opposition. Brexit is, even at best, no kind of panacea, and with the Conservatives stuffed with conmen and careerists it is important that they be held accountable. Corbyn cannot do this but he is not alone. His rivals are quite as preposterously dim.

About bsixsmith

I am a writer of stories and poems - published by Every Day Fiction, The London Journal of Fiction, 365 Tomorrows and Det Poetiske Bureau - and a columnist for Quillette, Areo and Bombs & Dollars.
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7 Responses to In Defence of Jeremy Corbyn…

  1. I had been thinking (though not actually expecting it to happen) that David Miliband would somehow burst back onto the scene and take the helm of Labour. Wonder where they’ll go from here re leadership. Blair says Labour can get back to its winning ways if it goes back to his brand of politics.


    • bsixsmith says:

      Blair’s politics are incredibly unpopular. New Labour survived as long as it did because the Conservatives were a joke and Blair (as much as I dislike him) was a very talented and charismatic politician.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Simon says:

        If the French elections are any indication, not only should the Tories should be grateful that the UKIP are nowhere as competent as Front National but the Blairite wing of Labour should also be just as grateful that Jeremy Corbyn is nowhere as competent as Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

        Mélenchon and LFI’s taking most of Benoit Hamon’s PS voters in the first round is by the way more vindication of the calls for increased populism from the political left coming from the Chapo Trap House crowd, and he actually seems as hardline as most of his supporters: A sharp contrast to Bernie Sanders, who as president would probably disappoint his voters the same way Jimmy Carter did as both got most of their support from a base much further left than themselves.


      • bsixsmith says:

        Agreed. It’s amazing how much of the French youth support Melenchon or Le Pen. As much as I suspect Macron will win the elections, liberal centrism, as it exists today, lives on borrowed time.


      • Simon says:

        It’s difficult to say whether the younger generation is becoming more left or more right but running on an explicitly illiberal platform seems to be how you win over the masses these days. I wonder if the political left seems to be taking that as the main “lesson learned” from Occupy Wall Street fizzling out, since I remember there being a gap between the strident rhetoric coming from OWS and their surprisingly moderate policy prescriptions.

        That, or deciding that if the right can embrace their extremists with no negative consequences the left can too – notice how much more socially acceptable that open Castro/Chavez apologism became in the wake of Trump’s winning the Republican primaries as another example.

        Of course, liberalism is probably only considered “moderate” because it’s the (for now) hegemonic ideology in the industrialized world. If you look at Emmanuel Macron’s concrete policy prescriptions he’s actually closer to the libertarian Gary Johnson than to either Democratic primary candidate…


  2. Simon says:

    Is it a coincidence that you posted this on the 1st of May?


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