National Politics, Uncategorized

How Corbyn has cracked his halo

jeremy corbyn

The thing Jeremy Corbyn had going for him, as far as the general population is concerned, was his integrity, his refusal to compromise, his refusal to schmooze and simper and smarm. His apparent ability to stand up for what he believed in, regardless of what was deemed establishment opinion, rightly earned him the respect of people from all walks of life and political views.  He did manage to crack the establishment consensus that austerity is the only solution. Conservative strategists like Lynton Crosby saw that in his character and in their souls feared it. There is no one in the Conservative party who could win in the integrity stakes against Corbyn.

But during the EU referendum campaign Corbyn failed to be true to that. He adopted a tactic of laying low and appeared half-hearted in his support for Remain. So he was absent from many of the big Remain rallies and media appearances. The few speeches he did give sounded passionless and flat.  Opinion polls show that many of the people who voted Labour in the last general election (about a third of them) were intending to vote Leave. Another big chunk, lacking guidance from anyone they trusted, are likely to be a part of the 28% who stayed at home and sat on their hands. If Corbyn had been as active as Cameron in standing up for EU membership maybe those people would have been emboldened to go and out and vote and the ballot would have gone the other way.  That is one reason why not just Blairite MPs but strong, left wing Remain campaigners have turned against him

He also got principles confused with reality. I too was initially ambiguous about which way to vote in the referendum. But as I saw how the leaders of the Leave campaign were deliberately manipulating people into blaming immigrants for many of the country’s problems I realised I couldn’t afford to sit on the fence. Much though I disliked a lot of what the EU stood for, I realised voting Leave would embolden and legitimise racists, without achieving much change for the good, and without even reducing immigration by a significant amount (assuming that was the desired outcome for many people). Corbyn must have seen this but he perhaps loved his left-wing principles more than the reality and he wasn’t going to bend. So Corbyn not only betrayed the Remain side by being half-hearted, he also helped embolden racists.

But if he believed in Leave then why should he have loyalty to Remain? The Labour Party forced him into that box, as did probably the majority of the new young members who voted for him.  So the deeper betrayal was to his own persona. His image of integrity has been tarnished because he is seen to have been untrue to himself. If he wanted to Leave he should have come out and said so.  If he decided that Remain was the right thing to do, however reluctant he was, he should have come out and said so properly. He should have described publicly his own battle with the issue. Instead he bowed to pressure to support the Remain side, even when he did not really believe it. THAT is the key error.  That is just what St Jeremy was not supposed to do, speak for something he doesn’t believe in. The halo has slipped badly. If he wants to get his image back, he needs to acknowledge the mistake he made in the referendum campaign. Come clean, admit his true position on Europe and apologise for not being clear about it before. Unless he does that he will never repair the deep crack to his reputation.  But I am not sure he has the personality to admit he is wrong. The very inflexibility in him that has won him support is about to destroy him.


3 thoughts on “How Corbyn has cracked his halo

  1. A fair critique.

    IMHO he is still head shoulders and torso above most other politicians, but I take your point.

    I was a little concerned this was going to be another hatchet job. Another ‘I like Corbyn, but…’ article, of which I’ve read too many recently. I was preparing myself to let you know that, whilst I would like to come be able to come back to the Greens should the coup succeed, I would find that increasingly difficult if you joined in with putting the boot in at this time.

    I was really pleased to see that this wasn’t a hatchet job, but actually a very fair critique. Kudos to you for not taking the cheap and very easy opportunity that many less principled commentators (and many of the PLP) seem to be seizing right now.


  2. Corbyn was a Bennite thirty five years ago, and we all remember what Tony Benn thought of the EU. He thought it was unaccountable and therefore unsupportable. When we joined the EEC, back in 1975, it was supported by lots of tories and a handful of Wilson’s labour MPs. So Corbyn moved a long way to campaign for Remain. And I think his support for it was genuine, but with reservations, as was mine. As indeed was yours, Robert. I don’t think he was untrue to himself. I also think his so-called half-heartedness was amplified by the media and his own party’s animosity. We can see how true to himself he is by how much stick he is sitting and taking for the sake of remaining true to his supporters. He is in a battle for the ownership of the Labour party, socialists v centre-lefties. He won’t give in. I respect him for that.


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