Corbyn the Martyr

I’ve replaced Saturday’s ‘Fuck, What have we done?’ post with a longer and better one. There’s also a shorter version, with a more polite heading, on the LRB Blog (

The other thing I feared ( is now happening. Corbyn is being blamed for not getting out the Labour vote. With his shadow cabinet resigning in shoals, it really doesn’t look as though he can last long. I’m deeply saddened by this. Corbyn is the only Labour leader for years that I’ve felt I could identify with. It may be partly that he looks a bit like me – old, grey-bearded, sloppily dressed – but it’s mainly because of his political principles, most of which (not all) I share, and his transparent honesty, which may not be as rare as we think among politicians but probably is among those who reach the top. I’ve also admired his ‘performances’ at Prime Minister’s Question Time in the Commons. I like his ‘new style’ of political leadership: less of the Führerprinzip that Thatcher brought in. And I thought his many speeches on behalf of the ‘Remain’ campaign were excellent: more measured, rational, honest and therefore persuasive than most Tory Brexiters’ and Remainers’; though it was difficult sometimes to find them, with the media largely ignoring him. This was a great part of his problem. People got the impression he wasn’t pulling his weight, but only because the BBC, ITV and even the ‘quality’ press hardly gave him any coverage. When they did, it was only to sneer – even the Guardian. Corbyn represents ‘rational man’; who was nowhere near as newsworthy as Boris the clown and Nigel the idiot, and as the soap opera melodramatics on the ‘Blue’ side of politics. As Tony Blair learned to his political advantage, but to our existential peril, it’s the press barons that run this country. Jeremy didn’t stand a chance.

I shall always bear a grudge against the media for this, and against those Labour MPs who are presently seeking to bring him down. For the moment, however, we need to deal with realities, one of which is this media bias, until we achieve power, and can do something about it. For my part, I wasn’t at all impressed with any of the other candidates in the last Labour leadership election, but have been since then with Hilary Benn. It’s his sacking by Corbyn, of course, following his telling the latter that he no longer had confidence in him, that has triggered today’s shadow cabinet revolt. I disagree with him on some issues, including that one; but on the other hand his speeches are both rational and impressive oratorically, he has ministerial experience, and he must have some of his father’s DNA still lurking there. (That doesn’t always follow. Look at the deplorable Kinnock fils.) He would go down well on all parts of the Labour benches, and hopefully among ordinary Labour members too. I understand that he has expressed no interest in leading the party, but if so I hope he can be persuaded otherwise. He’s the only one that would stay the hand holding my letter of resignation from the party, when Jeremy is sacrificed to the Gods of (what used to be) Fleet Street and Broadcasting House.

PS. Or Yvette Cooper.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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