No amount of reports in the press that Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet-making is farcical and his party is divided should distract us from the fact that he is winning. I don’t mean that he will become prime minister, or even (though this seems quite possible) that he will survive as leader until the general election. It is just that he is gradually bringing more and more of Labour under his control, and grinding down his opponents. Besides, his public positions are coherent — in the sense of being internally consistent — and he is quite accomplished at adhering to an undeviatingly hardline, left-wing ideology while sounding mild and decent. Taxed, on Monday, by Nick Robinson about his support for terrorism, Mr Corbyn was able fiercely to declare that he detested terrorist attacks on ‘civilians’. (Sometimes, he and his like refer to ‘innocent civilians’.) ‘Civilians’, you see, are not to blame for bad policy or for enforcing the will of the capitalist West. The tougher question would be what he thinks of attacks on British forces in the Middle East, on the police when they arrest terror suspects here, or on the RUC in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. He will not condemn these unreservedly. If you deplore attacks on civilians, but equivocate about attacks on those who most actively defend them, you are weeping crocodile tears. On Tuesday, by the way, Mr Corbyn’s favourite organisation, the Stop the War Coalition, reacted angrily to North Korea’s latest testing of a nuclear bomb: ‘We call on the US to stop stoking the tension, end its provocative exercises, drop the sanctions and seek dialogue.’
There should be a short booklet with a list of points for those about to take up public sector appointments — not the formal rules, which already exist, but certain informal tips for survival.