The delusions of the anti-Corbyn plotters

On Thursday 23rd June the unexpected triumph of the Leave campaign can only be read as a rebuke to the authority of the political class. Certainly racism and anti-immigrant prejudice informed many voters, but that was far from the only motive for so many people rejecting the overwhelming consensus view of experts and professionals who counseled caution.

What credibility did George Osborne have in saying that leaving the European Union would jeopardize the prosperity and strength of the UK economy, when millions work on zero hours contracts, or with only a few hours through agencies; when a million people rely upon food banks; when there is a crippling housing crisis; when there is both a growth of in-work poverty, and also a brutal and inhuman regime of sanctioning the unemployed; when thousands of graduates are burdened by an unimaginable yoke of debt.

For people who cannot afford the bus to go and sign on, what did it matter that they might lose the theoretical opportunity to take a job in Milan or Berlin. When people see their local employers advertising vacancies only in Poland or the Czech Republic, without giving them an opportunity to apply, then the employment law protections enshrined in EU law may as well be dust in their mouths.

The arguments from anti-Corbyn rebels in the Labour Party make scarce sense. The vote to Remain had to be won amongst those angry and alienated, and who are highly skeptical about the EU. The argument from Corbyn that the EU is far from perfect, but on balance it was still better to remain, was one carefully calibrated to engage with potential swing voters in the referendum.

The plotters know that Corbyn is not responsible for losing the referendum. As Angela Eagle herself explained on 13th June, “Jeremy is up and down the country, pursuing an agenda that would make a 25-year-old tired. He has not stopped. We are doing our best, but if we are not reported it is difficult.”

However, it takes a staggering lack of self awareness by Labour MPs, many of whom failed to convince the electors in their own constituencies to vote Remain, to fail to see that the referendum revolt against the politics of “business as usual” also rejects them, and the whole culture of the Portcullis House bubble; it rejects the incestuous linkeage between conspiring careerists and establishment journalists.

At the very moment when the prospect of Brexit threatens to rip up employment rights, when the economy might be overwhelmed by catastrophe as business confidence is lost, and investment decisions are postponed and cancelled. When the falling pound jeopardizes thousands of jobs in UK companies who buy on the world market in US dollars. At a time when not only 3 million EU citizens in the UK are unsure of their future, but there is a terrifying rise in racially motivated hate crime. At this very moment Labour shadow cabinet members indulge in an orchestrated fiasco of resignations, and student union antics. It is beyond contempt.

And who is the mighty, unifying figure who they suggest can bring the party back together as an alternative to Corbyn. Angela Eagle!? Does anyone seriously think that Angela Eagle, particularly if she is elected in a process that makes the assassination of Julius Caesar look quite proper and dignified, will have the authority and stature to unite the party, to appease the sense of betrayal from members and activists? Is Angela Eagle, who has not even carried the support of her own constituency party, the person who can bring back alienated Labour voters who are listening to the simplistic siren song of UKIP?

It is a far cry from the 1976 contest, when 6 giants sought the leadership. Michael Foot, Anthony Crosland, Tony Benn, Denis Healey, Roy Jenkins and James Callaghan.

The statement from General Secretaries of 10 of the 14 affiliated unions issued yesterday is not quite a ringing endorsement of Corbyn. However it is withering in its scorn for the rebels of the parliamentary party, who have played parlour games at the moment when their nation, and their constituents needed them most to act as a unified and determined opposition.

The current crisis within the Parliamentary Labour Party is deeply regrettable and unnecessary. Last week’s vote to leave the European Union presents the entire labour movement with unprecedented challenges. Above all, we need to be fighting to preserve our members’ jobs, already under threat in several industries and across the public sector as a consequence. The government is in crisis, but already serious debates are taking place and decisions being made which profoundly affect the interests of working people.

Under these circumstances, our members and millions of others will be looking with dismay at the events in parliament. It cannot be right to seek to denude the Labour front bench at this time, when the government more than ever needs to be scrutinised and held to account by an effective and united opposition that does the job it is paid to do.

Jeremy Corbyn is the democratically-elected Leader of our Party who secured such a resounding mandate less than ten months ago under an electoral procedure fully supported by Labour MPs. His position cannot and should not be challenged except through the proper democratic procedures provided for in the Party’s constitution. We urge all Labour MPs to abide by those procedures, and to respect the authority of the Party’s Leader.

While we have stated that we believe a Leadership election would be an unwelcome distraction at this time of crisis, if one nevertheless occurs through the proper procedures we would expect all parts of the Party to honour the result and pull together in the interests of the country, and working people in particular. The only party that can win for working people is a strong and united Labour Party.

Len McCluskey, General Secretary, Unite the Union
Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON
Tim Roache, General Secretary, GMB
Dave Ward, General Secretary, CWU
Brian Rye, Acting General Secretary, UCATT
Manuel Cortes, General Secretary, TSSA
Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF
Matt Wrack, General Secretary, FBU
Ronnie Draper, General Secretary, BFAWU
Chris Kitchen, General Secretary, NUM

Each trade union will make its own decisions, by the appropriate processes according to their own rule books.

However, the rightful scorn against the MP plotters, will I am sure be a factor in those decisions; and while many trade union activists and officers may have some reservations about Corbyn; the alternatives look far worse.

15 comments on “The delusions of the anti-Corbyn plotters

  1. I am reading that 60,000 people have joined the Labour Party in the last week. Anyone got any ideas about what proportion of this new intake are supporting Corbyn?

  2. In a situation in which our ruling class (and its Labour outriders) will do everything to subvert the clear decision to leave the EU and Labour is in danger of losing meaningful contact with millions of working class voters Jeremy Corbyn is the figure most able, on the basis of his long established positions and his compelling criticisms of the EU, to find a common language with these people without whom a Labour government cannot come into being.
    If Labour combines a contempt for its own democracy by permitting this coup by the PLP to succeed with an attempt to subvert the referendum result in alliance with the Tories then it will close off the prospect of government for a generation.

  3. Jock mctrousers on said:

    Yes, they must all be deselected. And Momentum too needs a clean out. Lansman has to go for his behaviour over the anti-smitism slurs. Momentum and the grass roots have to get the deselections underway now, and openly proclaim it! I’m a member but health prevents me participating, so excuse me telling others what to do, at least to keep my faith and vote. The media will portray a mass deselection as illegitimate – fuck them! They’re our enemy if we stray from neoliberalism. If Corbyn and Momentum won’t fight/deselect then fuck the Labour Party.

  4. Paul Scarrott on said:

    President of the British Polling Council, Professor Curtice nails the lie that Corbyn was responsible for Remain’s defeat. As he explains Labour ‘was never likely to achieve much more than this.’ As he put’s it, ‘The real source of the Remain side’s difficulties was the failure of David Cameron to bring his own voters on board.’

    “But in truth there is little in the pattern of the results of the referendum to suggest that Mr Corbyn was personally responsible for Remain’s defeat. The referendum outcome looks more like a pretext for an attempt to secure Mr Corbyn’s removal than a reason.”

    “…. it was hardly surprising that across Britain as a whole only around two-thirds (63 per cent according to Lord Ashcroft, 65 per cent as estimated by YouGov) of those who voted Labour in 2015 voted to remain in the EU. The party was never likely to achieve much more than this. And at least the party’s coalition did not fracture as badly as the one that backed David Cameron a year ago; well under half (42 per cent according to Lord Ashcroft, 39 per cent, YouGov) of those who voted Conservative in 2015 voted to remain. The real source of the Remain side’s difficulties was the failure of David Cameron to bring his own voters on board.”

  5. George Hallam on said:

    Jock mctrousers:
    I’m a member but health prevents me participating, so excuse me telling others what to do, at least to keep my faith and vote.

    Ill health is bad at anytime. Just now, with so much going on, it’s doubly frustrating for an activist. My sympathy and I wish you better health in the near future.

  6. stockwellpete:
    I am reading that 60,000 people have joined the Labour Party in the last week. Anyone got any ideas about what proportion of this new intake are supporting Corbyn?

    To answer my own question, one of the Momentum people has said that about 60% of this new intake has actually stated “support for Corbyn” in the box on the online application form asking why they want to join the Labour Party. Not everyone supporting him would have done that so my guess is something like 75 to 80% of the new people are Corbyn supporters.

  7. Marco,

    Ashcroft’s polling data suggests that sovereignty was the first reason that people gave for voting to leave the EU and the complex of issues around migration less important.
    The ultra liberal conflation of concerns about migration with racism serves a double purpose. Firstly, to stop people thinking about the economic drivers for migration within the EU (austerity, youth unemployment etc) and to obscure the related issue of the EU’s racist Fortress Europe policy.
    The ‘freedom’ of movement within the EU for professionals with marketable skills is the flip side of the forced movement of the unemployed from the PIIGS and eastern Europe to work in the low wage economies.

  8. Vanya on said:

    #10 It’s interesting how many of the young people who’ve expressed strong antipathy to the exit vote (including those quoted at the anti-Brexit demo on Saturday) have as their main issue the worry that they won’t be able to go to university in EU countries.

    Regardless of whether that actually is going to happen (which I seriously doubt) is that likely to be a burning issue amongst youth in the estates of Sunderland or Stoke on Trent? (Or Haringey and Hackney for that matter)?

  9. Bonnemort on said:

    I should point out what’s not apparent (to me at any rate) from the link, namely that a Tom Mauchline (also the name of the person whose heckling of Corbyn made BBC news) is shown on Linkedin as a senior account manager at Portland Communications.

  10. Andy newman on said:


    I can only speak for the young people I know. I rarely talk of my personal life online, but i live “on an estate” in a former council house, and my step chikdren work in unskilled entry level jobs, and have little interest in ‘politics’, they all voted Remain, as did their friends, and at a recent family party, a 16 year old from down the road , witn little liklihood of going to university at all, had very strong remain views, and she and her brother had persuaded their mum not to vote Leave.
    I think you underestimate the degree to which young people are more welcoming of multiculturalism than older people, and also how being an EU citizen appeals to many of them

  11. John on said:

    Andy newman: I think you underestimate the degree to which young people are more welcoming of multiculturalism than older people

    This is a key point. The young vote for Remain had little to do with class and more to do with multiculturalism and the fact that for the current generation it is all they have known. The notion of monoculturalism, a dominant driver of Brexit in its assertion of a white British identity, is anathema to a generation that has been culturally shaped and informed by a multicultural society.

    In a very real sense Brexit was a revolt against multicultural Britain. It was the assertion of a nationalist identity rooted in the iconography of empire, colonialism, and the mythologies of British martial might.

  12. Andy Newman on said:

    John: The young vote for Remain had little to do with class and more to do with multiculturalism

    For many older voters it was little to do with class and a lot to do with race.

    i have yet to hear a response from the so-called Lexit supporters of whether they acknowedge that the Leave vote was achieved because 3 million EU citizens who live and work in the UK did not have a vote; 3 million people who are one of the strands of the modern British working class.

    Instead we hear the euphemism from “anticapitalista” that there is a distinction where Uk citizens are “traditional” working class, and migrants are presumably non-traditional. “they come over ‘ere …. “