A perfectly justifiable attack on Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn continues his disastrous leadership of the Labour Party despite losing the support of his Parliamentary party last year, his dominating supporter base with the members, and the rather lacklustre challenge by Owen Smith has scotched any attempt to remove him via a challenge.

Criticisms against Jeremy rarely are unwarranted, this is a man who has been promoted well above his ability, surrounded himself with various people who wouldn’t get off the back benches if the leader had any sense, and has a media strategy that appears to be “get him on the TV and pray he doesn’t sh*t himself”.

Now this country is faced with the biggest political crisis since the Abdication, the decision by the Government to trigger Article 50 thus withdrawing the UK from the European Union is one that is incredibly high risk with the potential of no reward but making Nigel Farage and the Tory right happy. The problem is this, there is no credible opposition. The Lib Dems, SNP, and the Labour Party have split the opposition. Labour is in total chaos and the polls showing a comfortable lead, means her only real risk is from the right of her own party. This is prompting May to veer into the worst possible exit for the UK in which is Parliament decides it doesn’t like the deal and votes it down the UK still leaves but with economically crippling WTO rules.

It’s no secret Jeremy wasn’t keen on the EU, his pathetic campaigning and damaging comments on ‘the Last Leg’ coupled with him making the completely wrong arguments for remaining and his demand A50 be triggered immediately the day after the result. Of course supporters of Jeremy point out his gruelling campaign schedule and in particular a quote by Angela Eagle  and a report they claim showed Jeremy made 122 appearances, although that was debunked . Until now Jeremy has been relatively quiet, instead relying on Sir Keir Starmer to take the lead on Labour’s response to Brexit, a job he was until recently pretty good at.

However the Supreme court ruling that Parliament has to have a say on triggering the withdrawal has caught Labour on the hop which is a surprise since the verdict wasn’t exactly a surprise. They have found themselves confounded by the Conservatives matching their attack lines before they can be used properly. Talk of a white paper resulted in an announcement that there will be a white paper, trouble about Parliament having a final vote was matched by the Government announcing there will be a final vote, all taking place when Labour have clearly set that day out to attack them on the issue. This has resulted in Labour lamely claiming victory over the government despite the White paper being light on detail and more a dream-land wish list and as mentioned, a devil and the deep blue sea decision on the final vote.

However Jeremy decided to lead labour, first by suggesting a 3 line whip on the article 50 bill (itself devoid of anything meaningful). Now normally if a cabinet or shadow cabinet member defies a 3 line whip they have to resign or are dismissed, it’s the nuclear option for party unity on a vote. Now this is where it gets confusing.

Many said they would vote against the bill in its original form and would only vote to approve if a number of amendments are accepted, amongst those were the guarantee for EU nationals to remain and membership of the EURATOM nuclear research project. None of the amendments were accepted. The Government Brexit bill is in effect a blank cheque to the Government to attempt a meaningful Brexit negotiation or just leave the EU completely and trade within WTO rules (an agreement many economists have said will ruin the UK economy) and Jeremy whipped Labour into supporting it.
At the first vote last week, Corbyn suffered a rebellion of 47 MPs, or one-fifth of the parliamentary party. Three shadow cabinet members, Dawn Butler, Rachael Maskell and Jo Stevens, resigned to vote against the legislation, and a dozen more junior frontbenchers chose to defy the whip. Just before the 3rd reading Clive Lewis announced he was resigning from the shadow cabinet to vote against the bill.

Now an absolute mess is bad enough, losing another chunk of his shadow cabinet is pretty bad considering the mass walk out last June/July. But the wound was missing more salt until this:

No Jeremy, the real fight started when Cameron fired the starting gun on the referendum, except you wouldn’t have known that as you went on holiday, or bothered to turn up to any of the Labour IN meetings instead of complaining that 0830 in the morning was “too early”. You’d probably have known that if you worked more than 4 days a week as reported in Private Eye this week. Seriously the Leader of the opposition only works 4 days and if he’s booked to appear on anything during the weekend he gets time off in leiu. For God’s sake, man. You are the leader of the opposition, it’s your job to turn up and do the job 7 days a week, I mean what if you bloody become PM, will you only do 4 days then? Would world events have to happen on those 4 days? what if Russia invaded Ukraine on a Tuesday but you were off because you did Peston on Sunday?

Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to lead, simple as. His idea that the “real fight” starts after we’ve given them what they want is laughable and frankly an insult to the 48% who voted remain and the countless many who have since changed their minds. It is in Labour’s and the country’s best interest he resigns and someone who works more than 20 hours a week takes over. Then maybe we’ll be spared complete collapse because May is too weak to stand up to Iain Bloody Duncan Smith.

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In defence of Jeremy’s 9/11 tweet

It seems that everyday the papers are filled with an “Outrage”. Since it’s September it’s the beginning of the “Ban the poppy/Christmas” outrage bus, but it’s now at the point where an “outrage” is simply something as innocuous as a tweet*.

Take for example the “outrage” over a tweet Owen Smith sent back in April:

Yea it’s not exactly up there in terms of funny but at the beginning of September the Corbyn supporters found it and latched onto it as an example of how sexist and misogynistic Owen is. The Gobstopper is obviously a reference to shutting Sturgeon up especially since it was the campaigning for the local elections (one Labour did exceptionally well to avoid a total collapse/ won more than anyone ever has hail Corbyn!) so in context it’s hardly up there with something like this, which by the way is a perfect example of being a sexist waste of skin:

Now for something I never thought I’d do with less than a week until the election results are due, I’m about to defend Jeremy Corbyn.

I’m not a fan or Jeremy anymore and my reasons are scattered throughout this blog and twitter. It all started on Sunday, a day when campaigning across the board ceased to remember the events of September 11, 2001. Amongst the posts from politicians expressing sorrow and remembrance was this from Jeremy:

It’s an inevitability that anything Jeremy was going to post that day was going to be leapt upon his past associations and comments, not to mention his Director of Communications being the person who immediately blamed the US and once said the murder of Lee Rigby wasn’t terrorism because he was a soldier (then there’s the praising Stalin stuff) meant that it was going to be open season. Naturally a lot of people were annoyed that he had shoehorned some anti western sentiment into a sombre moment or that he was using it to score cheap political points (the irony of then using Jeremy scoring cheap points, to score cheap points was immediately lost)

But here’s the thing.

Is it really *THAT* offensive or outrageous?**

Many think that it simply wasn’t the right time to mention the aftermath of 9/11 but then they can never answer the question “then when is?” without giving the same answer “anyday but this”. The problem is I fundamentally disagree. In the 15 years since 9/11 we’ve went to war in Afghanistan, thrown lives and resources trying to bring order to a land that proved the downfall of the greatest empires in history, we’ve left behind a broken country in Iraq, where lawlessness, sectarianism, and now ISIS which rose from the ashes of the insurgency in Iraq controls vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. There’s been attacks in London, Madrid, Brussels, Paris, Nice, Tunisia, Bali, Baghdad, Mosul, Moscow, Kenya, Texas, Boston, Cologne, and many of which have their origins in the aftermath of 9/11.

Then there’s the argument of “Think about their families” well what about the Familiy of 13 year old Mohammed Tuaimanor the families of those killed in Yemen when a drone strike hit a wedding ceremony?

I think the issue is this has resulted in a war that hasn’t ended. In 3 months when people stop to remember the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor people will be thinking about the attack, the loss of life and some will think about what happened after, the remembering the victims in the aftermath comes in May and August with VE and VJ day. A day when we stop, fall silent and remember those who died in the battles that followed (for Americans at least.) There’s no single moment in the War on Terror where we can stop and think of everything that has happened after, there’s no VGWOT day.

I think it’s also important that we do remember the aftermath, how as a people once the dust settled we began to fight back, badly. 15 years and the only notable victory was the killing of Osama Bin Laden, Afghanistan is slowly falling back into the hands of the Taliban, Syria and Iraq are on fire, Libya is a mess, Egypt is in the middle of a brutal crackdown. If we don’t stop to remember what happened and what came next we’re bound to make the same mistakes, we relegate the “War on Terror” as a separate beast to 9/11 and disassociate what we’ve done after as a response to it. We doom ourselves to forget the lessons and if it were to happen again we’re bound to make them again.

As James Joyce wrote in ‘Ulysses’ “History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”

At the end of the day Jeremy is vehemently anti-war, he was well within his rights to highlight what came next, we should never forget 9/11, the peaceful bright morning shattered by the sound of jet engines.

*As a caveat I’m not saying that all tweets aren’t worthy of outrage, I mean Donald Trump’s feed is testament to just how awful it can get and the less said about Katie Hopkins the better.

** It’s not like he wished his enemies a happy 9/11, I mean you’d have to be a grade A asshole to do tha- DAMMIT DONALD!

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The two Jeremys.

There’s an episode in season 3 of the ‘West Wing’ where President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) are talking in the Oval office. They’re discussing the upcoming election and how the Republican candidate (in a clear comparison with G W Bush) is the polar opposite of Bartlet.

Toby says to him “Well, there’s always been a concern… about the two Bartlets. The absent-minded professor with the “Aw, Dad” sense of humor. Disarming and unthreatening. Good for all time zones. And the Nobel Laureate. Still searching for salvation. Lonely, frustrated. Lethal.”

I mention this because this afternoon I got to see the current leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn address a crowd of around 200 people in Sunderland on a whistle-stop tour of the North East following the hustings last night. Now I’m going to put my cards on the table and start by saying that although I have supported Labour for most of my adult life (barring a month when I was struck with “Cleggmania”) I have only been a fully paid up member since November/December last year. I joined because I believed in Jeremy Corbyn, that he was the man to lead us into government and to reverse the damage caused by the conservative party. However, after revelations from former colleagues and some close to him, I believe he isn’t the man to lead us so in this leadership election I am backing Owen Smith.

I went to the rally (which had moved location due to concerns about safety) with the intention of seeing what the fuss was about although friends reactions varied from “Don’t get arrested” to “you’re going to chicken suit him, aren’t you?” I’ve  seen Jeremy at the Dispatch box, at the leadership hustings and in the rare interviews and appearances he does on TV and he isn’t what I would call, impressive. For the most part he seems to spend too much time with his nose buried in his notes mumbling or with the look of a very disappointed university lecturer, so I at least knew sort of what to expect.

First impressions were that a large proportion of the crowd were from Unite and Unison including a few who are/were SWP not that long ago, momentum members and people from the various Socialist parties selling their newspapers. As the event went on they were then joined by quite a lot of students while the locals mainly stuck to the fringes of the crowd.

The first up was a woman with a guitar, who sang a few songs reworded with more current issues such as refugees and then sang one that was essentially how great Jeremy is (#notacult). While this was going on a man in the crowd started shouting at the people there, resulting in a young man in a Momentum T-shirt to start shouting back at him and getting quite aggressive, which didn’t defuse the situation. It was surreal to walk between people clapping at a song that had the line “Kinder and Gentler” while walking towards this guy and a former SWP member as he yells “I’m a fucking Union man” and the kid in the Momentum Tshirt is getting more irate. As I walked back to my Wife I noticed the kid had been taken to the side of the crowd where the councillors were and was getting spoken to by a police officer.

There then followed Katherine Mason who set up the Penshaw Clothes Bank. In her speech she described the work she does and the impact it has on the most needy in the area, she was incredible and rightly received a large applause at the end. Following her were people from the Unions and a Councillor from Northumberland.

This all leads me to Jeremy.

He wasn’t what I was expecting, instead of the mumbling under-performer, there was a man who was full of passion, who didn’t read from a notepad, was lively, and animated. He didn’t really say anything new and the speech wasn’t that special. Apart from a few lines about local council cuts he didn’t really address the issues people in Sunderland face or believe are important. There was nothing about the EU which struck me as odd considering Sunderlands prominent part in that result. I can’t imagine someone with absolutely nothing in Pallion, Pennywell or Penshaw really caring about building a movement similar to the Bernie Sanders one in the US (Reminder, Sanders stepped aside for party unity.) Although he did once again tell us that the Party abstained on the welfare bill, but what he didn’t say was that during the 3rd and final reading before it becomes law MP’s voted against it.

His message was aimed at the Unions and the younger students in the crowd and this has been one of my main issues with him.

He and his supporters measure their success on the size of their rallies and the support they get there. He isn’t trying to speak to the wider electorate or the wider membership of the party. His message is full of broad ideas without specifics and no specifics ever emerge bar the ones that are unworkable. The idea that his investment banks will be covered by taxation and closing loopholes and avoidance schemes sound all nice, but the practicalities and the likely return to the treasury wouldn’t be enough. He announces policy through the Morning star, his chancellor announces policy seemingly on the fly in areas that aren’t in his area of responsibility (just ask Sharon Hodgson about that) and his supporters lap it up. They can’t understand that in the wider public he isn’t as well liked, they can’t see that Labour have consistently been behind in the polls bar a few day in April and when you do challenge them on it they blame the right wing media, the PLP or some vast conspiracy.

One of the most telling things about to day was the concentrations of different groups of people. Momentum members and the unions/SWP/TUSC were the closest to him, then people like myself were next, and the locals many of whom won’t be labour members were out in the fringes. These were the ones who left immediately after he stopped speaking and from the bits of their conversation I heard were the least impressed by his message. And for me this summed up the situation perfectly.

I thought I would be leaving the event feeling angry, however the overriding feeling was one of disappointment. Disappointment that for almost a year we’ve had a different Jeremy than the one we had in the campaign in 2015, while he was full of energy and was a breath of fresh air, the Jeremy of Labour leader has been the opposite, an almost paranoid, ineffective politician who hasn’t been able to meet the demands and duties of leader of the opposition. For a brief moment I remembered what made me like him and join in the first place but then as I walked down the street past the charity shops, the pawn shops and the now empty shell of BHS I remembered why he needs to go.  Labour is a union of left-wing movements but they realised long ago that those movements needed proper representation, and needed to be in Government to bring their aims to fruition. Labour is about coming together, to change the country for the better, to make sure that your children have it better than you. That they have the best schools, the best teachers, the best hospitals and the best doctors all free, that they can realise their potential and reach for it. And even if they fall, that there’s something there to catch them. And right now that is simply not going to happen.

As I got home I heard that the appeal by Labour had been successful and that the voting block would stand, this cause a lot of fellow Smith supporters to be happy at this as those supporters were believed to be more for Jeremy than Owen, however like Toby says during that tense conversation with Bartlet:

” There’s an old expression: “Quando dio vuole castigarci ci manda quello che desideriamo.” When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.”