It doesn’t matter if Corbyn wins or not

2A83AB7700000578-3160530-Hard_left_Labour_leadership_contender_Jeremy_Corbyn_flew_into_a_-m-65_1436883174875by @Jake_Wilde

As I write this it still seems likely that Jeremy Corbyn will emerge as the new leader of the Labour Party. The only scenario where that won’t happen depends entirely on Andy Burnham not being eliminated from the preference rounds prior to a final head to head with Corbyn. The reason for this is the assumption that sufficient numbers putting Burnham as their first preference have put Corbyn as their second preference, at least sufficient numbers to tip Corbyn past Yvette Cooper if those two were to be in the final head to head.

This says much about the Burnham strategy throughout this campaign. When Corbyn was the rank outsider Burnham’s camp specifically targeted Corbyn’s second preferences, expecting to need them to counter the transfer of votes from Liz Kendall to Cooper. As the contest progressed and Corbyn moved into the lead Burnham was stuck. He couldn’t risk losing those second preferences or he’d have had no chance of winning. However his failure to seriously critique Corbyn’s policies, or his dubious associations, has meant that he has lost face amongst those within the party who agree with Cooper and Kendall’s analysis of what a Corbyn victory would mean for the Labour Party and the country.

So far so (I think) obvious. My contention is that, as a consequence, whether Burnham or Corbyn wins the election is now almost irrelevant. In his desire, unless desperation is a better word, to shore up his second preference support from Corbyn in order to beat Corbyn, Burnham has all but handed over the Labour Party to Corbyn, and his supporters, to set the agenda.

That agenda is a simple one – to move the Labour Party further to the left. There are two ways to achieve this. The first is simply to adopt more left-wing policies. The second is remove or neuter MPs and activists who resist the first one.

The policies are already written. Some have been written for years, untarnished by real world events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall or the electoral popularity and successes of New Labour. Anti-Americanism drives the foreign policy, Marxism underpins economic policy and the pursuit of electoral success is treachery to fabled principles. Burnham’s commitment to bring Corbyn on board if he wins is the beginning of the end for his leadership. He won’t be able to control Corbyn or his supporters – they’re absolutists – and Burnham will spend his entire leadership defending himself from the left within his own camp instead of reaching out to the centre of the country.

What will also be written is a hit list of MPs, activists, groups such as Progress and Labour First and the public figures such John McTernan who appear in the media. While talk of a Militant Tendency-style purge is certainly premature it will be on the agenda of some of Corbyn’s backers, as seen in the public statements of some union leaders both within and outside the party. More likely to start with is a coordinated influx of new party members into targeted constituency Labour parties (CLPs) in order to take over and put pressure upon MPs who are not sympathetic to the Corbynite agenda. This will include MPs who support Burnham – that won’t afford any protection. What will drive this hit list is where the Corbynites have the numbers.

It is also inevitable that some Labour Party activists will be inclined to retreat from activism when faced with hostility from the new and newly emboldened people in their CLP meetings. The shouting down of opposition is a tried and trusted tactic amongst the far left and there’s only so much hassle that people want from their voluntary work. All the old far left tricks will be used: arranging meetings when only they can make it; dragging meetings out so that the key business occurs when their opponents have gone home; excluding opponents from any decision-making or communications, effectively “disappearing” them from the process.

So what should those of us unwilling to see the Labour Party hijacked do about this? I don’t think any of what I’ll suggest is revelatory. However this is a different situation to the one the party found itself in during the 1980s with Militant Tendency. That playbook won’t help us now. However the central principle then, as now, has to be unity in the face of ugly, aggressive tactics.

The first step must be to organise within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). A small number of MPs will be instantly targeted as the Corbyn camp seeks to guarantee the support of a core of MPs, either to have a functioning Shadow Cabinet or to build for another contest for leader. If Corbyn wins he won’t need the 35 nominations as sitting leader. But if he loses it will be by the narrowest of margins and the pressure from the Corbynites for another contest will be relentless. It shouldn’t be forgotten that the Labour Party is in this position not through malevolent outside forces but because some MPs forgot, or ignored, their key leadership role in the process. The Corbyn camp knows that they can not rely upon MPs making the same mistake twice so they will need to add a dozen to 15 MPs to their cause. That means that some MPs will be threatened with deselection by their CLPs (see below) unless they cooperate and the ones that are targeted will need the support and solidarity of their PLP colleagues.

The second key battleground will be the CLPs, as I’ve indicated. Not every CLP will see strife – the Corbynites are noisier than they are numerous – but in the ones that do the existing activists will need support. Those of us, and I include myself here, who haven’t been active enough at CLP level will need to step up if we are serious about protecting the party. Sitting MPs will be important, as will any popular but unsuccessful 2015 General Election candidates in marginal constituencies. Most important though will be the party machinery, the best mechanism for ensuring that the unconstitutional methods adopted by the Corbynites are exposed, prevented and overturned where they occur. Key to this will be the new Deputy Leader and the two frontrunners for the post, Tom Watson and Caroline Flint, both have the necessary determination to stand firm. But again they can’t do that without support.

Thirdly the self-organised groups, such as Progress and Labour First, will need to find common ground to match their common cause and work together in a more coordinated fashion. Every policy debate and selection meeting will be crucial.

Finally us ordinary members will need to hold our nerve and not forget why we are in the party. We know that the reason why the Labour Party exists is to get into government, not posture from the sidelines. We know that to do that we must reach out to voters who regard themselves as apolitical, not petulantly insist that they come to us. We know that the Labour Party is the party of work, of success, of growth, of modernity, of equality and of international democracy. Those are Labour values and our natural home is as a party of Europe and ally of the United States and the values that underpin both. We must not allow ourselves to be bullied into acquiescence, silence or resignation because the next Labour government will be delivered through our efforts, not by the Corbynites.

The Diplomat of Islington North

By David Paxton (@canyouflybobby)

Diplomacy (noun): the work of maintaining good relations between the governments of different countries

Diplomat (noun): a person who represents his or her country’s government in a foreign country : someone whose work is diplomacy

A week ago Labour leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn gave a long interview to Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy. This section, on his calling Hamas ‘friends’, immediately started doing the rounds due to Corbyn’s apparent loss of temper.

By just using that single word ‘friends’ against him Guru-Murthy left available to Corbyn the defence he decided to make. He said:

I spoke at a meeting about the Middle East crises, in Parliament, and there were people there from Hezbollah and I said “I welcomed our friends from Hezbollah” to have a discussion and a debate.

Later he said:

I’m saying people I talk to, I use it in a collective way saying ‘our friends were prepared to talk’. Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No. What it means is, to bring about a peace process you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree.

On the surface this is almost plausible. This was indeed what a diplomat might say, it is the language of diplomacy. Political activist, satirist and comedian, Heydon Prowse seemed to agree and said:

What an idiotic line of questioning. Doesn’t c4 understand the concept of diplomacy

We had a brief discussion about his view. It didn’t go well.

In reply to Alan Johnson’s open letter to Corbyn addressing his previous praise for members of Hezbollah and Hamas, the website Left Futures carried a piece called Reactionary and Dishonest. In it is a more fleshed out version of Corbyn’s defence:

…the all too common view that anybody who supports dialogue and diplomacy with Hamas and Hezbollah must necessarily wholly endorse their politics as well.

Jeremy Corbyn was ahead of his time in recognising the need to talk to Sinn Fein and the IRA in 1984 when he invited Gerry Adams to London, and the same is true in relation to Hamas and Hezbollah. This farsighted act was subject to a furious barrage of criticism at the time, and yet now over 30 years later the importance of such acts of dialogue and goodwill in bringing an end to the Troubles could hardly be more uncontroversial.

…Corbyn also understands that peace can only be achieved through mutual respect and diplomacy.

I think it worth examining this notion that Jeremy Corbyn is a lone, extra-governmental diplomat bravely ahead of his time in seeking peace and that we cannot draw any other conclusion from his conduct.

BFFs

As mentioned, only the word ‘friends’ was brought up in the interview and without full context, Corbyn’s explanation has legs. Try this:

“We are gathered here for an important meeting of opposing views. On my right are some friends from the Black Panther Party and on my left are friends from the Ku Klux Klan. Hopefully by coming together as friends we can… etc”

That could get in under the excuse of being ‘diplomatic’.

Now try this:

“It is my pleasure and my honour to host an event where my friends from Stormfront will be speaking. I also invited friends from the Ku Klux Klan to speak but unfortunately the FBI won’t allow them to travel so it will only be friends from Stormfront. The Ku Klux Klan is an organisation dedicated towards the good of American people and bringing about long-term peace and social justice, and political justice.”

How does that sound to you? I don’t believe the latter example would be consistent with Corbyn’s claim “I use it in a collective way saying ‘our friends were prepared to talk'”. It goes well beyond standard diplomatic niceties.

Here is a video of the offending speech, see for yourself. He said exactly that about Hamas and Hezbollah and he was being very friendly indeed.

If he profoundly disagrees with them why claim the bit about social and political justice? Hamas’ form of ‘political justice’ is to execute their political opponents. Hamas’s ‘social justice’ is to murder people for being gay. Hamas’ ‘long-term peace’ includes a Charter clause calling for the destruction of Israel and the divinely ordained killing of Jews. And feeling ‘honoured’ to host holocaust deniers means either A: Corbyn thinks ‘honour’ means something it doesn’t or B: He has some fundamental problems with his morality.

To go as far in his praise as Corbyn does is grotesque and hints far more at outright support than the forced diplomatic nicety, while holding his nose, which one might tolerate or expect. Who would possibly say such a thing if they were not ‘friends’ or did in fact ‘profoundly disagree’? I think he is being deceptive in the Channel 4 interview and this should be taken into consideration by those so willing to repeat the claim that Corbyn is the straight-shooting candidate of unflinching honesty and integrity.

Who invited you anyway?

Yes, peace talks without a unconditional surrender require compromise, they require some holding of noses. After a successful peace has been forged such actions can indeed appear noble and worthy. However, this realisation can also be used to cover a multitude of sins and just talking, per se, is not necessarily a worthy and noble act.

John Major, who happened to be the actual prime minister and leader of the government, did a difficult and presumably correct thing in starting talks with the IRA. It was a careful and deliberate process that was straining against the idea that rewarding violence with power and representation might lead to more of the same. Do I have to laud Corbyn with the same praise when he invites IRA representatives to the Commons a fortnight after the Brighton bombing? This isn’t the brave and principled putting aside of grievance, this is rewarding and forgiving brutal terrorist violence directly following its most clearly anti-democratic expression by saying that the more they bomb the more they should be given a seat at the table. Imagine your young child is throwing a nasty tantrum in the supermarket because you refuse to give him sweets. Corbyn’s unilateral intervention is the equivalent of the unwelcome shop assistant butting in and saying ‘don’t be a meany, look at his little face, give him a Mars Bar.’ It’s undermining, it’s unwelcome, it’s not really his business. But these aren’t sweets in a supermarket, this is a murderous terror campaign.

This is not to say that a backbench MP cannot engage in dialogue that has little to do with his own constituents. However, in this case it is undermining the position of his own, and successive, governments at a time when its citizens were being murdered.

Corbyn’s stands on Israel and Northern Ireland require no holding of the nose and no compromise. He supports their positions. Ultimately the Northern Ireland peace process was about changing the means and agreeing to disagree on the ends. In Israel any future dealings with any groups will require the same. The difference between those outcomes and approaches and that of our renegade diplomat is that he wants an end to Israel and have it replaced with a Palestinian majority state. He also wants the reunification of Ireland. He supports the aims of these groups and doesn’t seem to think the means should exclude them from anything.

The Diplomacy of Adrian Mole Aged 66 & 1/4

Owen Jones said:

I’ve known Jeremy for years, and have shared numerous platforms with him on issues ranging from peace to social justice. He is the very antithesis of the negative caricature of an MP: he’s defined by his principles and beliefs

Great. Corbyn has taken several positions on foreign affairs and so one would expect some common themes running through these positions that can tell us what he is about. Let’s try and define him.

He met with the IRA, but fine, some will consider this just Jezza the Diplomat diplomating, as he is wont to do. But at a Troops Out meeting in 1987, Jeremy stood for a minute’s silence to “honour” eight IRA terrorists killed at Loughall. That event brought about the end of activities of an Active Service Unit from the East Tyrone Brigade that had been blowing up police stations and executing those present. What principle and belief can we deduce from that?

From Andrew Gilligan’s Telegraph piece (worth reading in full):

Jeremy Corbyn was helping Sayyed Hassan al-Sadr celebrate “the all-encompassing revolution,” the 35th anniversary of the ayatollahs’ takeover in Iran. In his talk, entitled “The Case for Iran,” he called for the immediate scrapping of sanctions on the country, which had not then promised to restrict its nuclear programme, attacked its colonial exploitation by British business and called for an end to its “demonisation” by the West.

Corbyn has repeatedly praised members of Hamas. They kill gays, deny the holocaust and speak of starting a fresh one. He calls them a force for social justice.

He praised the leadership in Venezuela while the oil-rich country was being run into bankruptcy and the freedom of the press was being eroded.

Corbyn asserts that despite the wishes of the Falklands islanders, expressed through the ballot box, and despite a fascist junta invading them causing British servicemen to fight and die, the islands should be owned by Argentina.

Corbyn wants an end to Israel, the most democratic and law-bound state in the region. The call for a single state solution with a Palestinian majority is, under present circumstances, a call not just for the end of a Jewish state but for the end to those living within it. It is conceivable that some might believe protecting the racial or religious identity of a state is in principle wrong. However, choosing to ignore the unique circumstances and history of the Jews and decide this principle cannot be bent in their case, that they cannot expect a nation where they are a majority, while wanting them to be at the mercy of those who openly call for a new genocide is, at the very best, immoral.

Corbyn believes that the 1973 Chilean coup was ‘run’ by the CIA.

In that same Jones piece he said:

he was protesting against Saddam Hussein when the west was arming him

A more cynical person than I might well consider changing the word ‘when’ to ‘because’ to add greater truth to that statement.

Taken on their own each of these could be a difference of opinion or a forgivable misjudgment. But combined as a life’s work?

So is there a theme in Corbyn’s choice to consistently side with theocrats, homophobic thugs, genocidal fascists, murderers, terrorists, demagogues, deniers of freedom and exponents of oppression? Is there a belief in evidence when he praises the people who believe his own constituents are legitimate targets for car bombs and suicide vests? I think there is: Whatever his own government (Labour or Tory) wants, he is against. Wherever The Man is represented Corbyn is sticking it to him. And this stands in contrast to the slogans and lofty ideals spouted at the rallies he is so often seen at.

This therefore isn’t the CV of a great diplomat or a campaigner for peace and human rights. Nor do his pretensions for a role in international relations add up to a statesman of value and importance. He’s not even a gifted amateur. This is merely adolescence dragged out into late middle-age. He is less Otto Von Bismark than Otto from The Simpsons. Laughable in a pub bore but fairly tragic at the forefront of a political party with a noble history. Corbyn should be seen as what he is, a 66 year old teenager using the stature of his MP status to make a bigger noise than a man of his ability otherwise could or should. If you are looking for the next Clement Attlee, keep looking.

To observe the likes of Corbyn is to see the worst of the modern Left, where being seen to fight is more important than achieving the goals congruent with their slogans. Seemingly unaware of the victories the Left have won already, the need to keep sidestepping left has meant they’ve come out the other side and are now friends, allies and enablers of facists, racists, murderers and thugs. And worst of all, they expect a halo for being so.