The Corner

National Security & Defense

Jeremy Corbyn?

When I lived in North London in the early 1980s, my local MP was Jeremy Corbyn, a man of the hard Left even by the dismal standards of the Labour party of that era. Blairs come and Blairs go, but the Corbyns of this world have a way of sticking around. Three decades later Corbyn has emerged as the front-runner in the contest to succeed the now departed Ed Milliband as the party’s leader, something that has not delighted those idiotic Labour parliamentarians who “lent“ Corbyn enough votes to allow him to be nominated as a candidate. Once they did that they lost control of a process (the leader is elected by all party members, with a wrinkle that allows trade unions to register their members as supporters at no cost) that those on the center-left have every reason to think is going very wrong indeed. Corbyn has won the endorsement of Britain’s two largest trade unions. And the polling seems to suggest that ordinary Labour party members are enthused too, the latter evidence both of the persistence of Socialist faith and of a phenomenon that Helen Lewis, writing in the leftist New Statesman, identifies as something the American writer Matt Bruenig has dubbed “purity leftism”.

As [Bruenig] wrote in 2012, “When purity leftists do actions and organising, their interest is not in reducing oppression as much as it is in reducing their own participation in it. Above all else, they want to be able to say that they are not oppressing, not that oppression has ended.”

The leadership vote is not until September, and the contest (as this article in the New Statesman makes clear) is by no means a foregone conclusion. But at the moment, at least, Corbyn has a clear edge. That’s delighted quite a few Tories, some of whom have even joined the Labour party with a view to helping the supposedly unelectable Corbyn to victory. That’s a mistake. For all the noise that Labour moderates are making now, most of them would rally behind Corbyn in the event he becomes leader, citing (of course!) the need for party unity. Political ambition is what it is. The next election is not due until 2020, giving the broader electorate time (with, doubtless, help from the BBC) to become accustomed to the “principled”  (an adjective that Helen Lewis dissects in her piece) Jeremy Corbyn.  And (as there always is) there’s plenty that could happen in the course of five years that could turn voters against the government in charge.

For a little sample of Corbyn, here’s part of a blog post “Thank you Hugo Chavez” that he wrote after the death of the Venezuelan leader :

Chavez became a huge figure on the world stage because he was the polar opposite of everything, especially what the two Bush administrations aimed for in Latin America and he forged alliances to try to bring about a different narrative in world politics – not easy to do, and he was often unfairly criticised as being some kind of dictator.  It is a strange dictator that has a mass media in Venezuela in permanent opposition to him, a wealthy elite who regularly condemned him and a new constitution and independent judicial system.  Perhaps our most appropriate memory will be the verve, joy and success of the Bolivarian youth orchestra whose visits to London have been met with such acclaim as was Chavez during his one visit to London on which many of us remember so fondly in 2006.

RIP Hugo.

And this from a contributor to Left Foot Forward on Corbyn’s principled take on the Middle East is worth reading, as is this from the Belfast Telegraph on his principled approach to the politics of Northern Ireland, as is this (from the Communist newspaper the Morning Star, where Corbyn has been a columnist since Soviet times) on his principled attitude to Ukraine.

Oh yes, he wants Britain out of NATO. 


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