Jeremy corbyn

Lansman plots his Cornish comeback

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Five years ago, Tony Benn’s former bag carrier was staging the most extraordinary Labour coup, ushering in the disastrous Bennite restoration that was Jeremy Corbyn’s rule.  Then he went on to found Momentum — Labour’s party within a party, the vanguard of the proletariat that would keep Labour’s wayward liberal MPs on the narrow path of socialism. That path so nearly reached its conclusion at the 2017 general election when Corbyn came within a few thousand votes of No. 10. Since then, catastrophe. Labour obliterated, the leadership lost to a competent social democrat.  And yet the true path of socialism continues, meandering as it does

The myth of ‘progressive’ thinking

One of the guiding instincts on the political left is that society should be ‘progressive’. Social attitudes, politics and the economy should all advance together, making society fairer and more equal in the process. In this view, a tax can be progressive if it targets the income of the wealthy, just as a law is considered progressive if it protects the rights of a minority. This progressive worldview permeates almost all thinking on the modern left. And yet the contemporary idea of the progressive society has undergone a logical collapse. It has been driven that way by activists, some of whom represent groups with valid causes, but whose messages have

After Starmer: Labour’s liberals should plan for a new party

Labour’s left appears to be licking their lips at the thought of Starmer’s ignominious end as leader, something which they now seem to hope will be coming sooner than they could have ever dreamed back in the summer. Should the party do poorly at the May local elections, the plan seems to be to agitate for a change at the top and unite around John McDonnell as Corbyn’s true successor. If the Labour party was taken over by the far left again, this would leave liberals in a difficult position. Since Keir Starmer took over, most liberals have folded into Labour, correctly seeing that they are the only vehicle for

What does Starmer stand for?

Keir Starmer has been leader of the Labour party for just eight months. But that hasn’t stopped analysts defining what it is that ‘Starmerism’ represents. To some, it is an empty space where ideas should be: technocratic, electorally-driven but otherwise strategically rudderless. Others – most obviously implacable Corbynites – even detect elements of free-market individualism. So what does Starmer really stand for? Commentators seem addicted to attaching the suffix ‘-ism’ to leading politicians’ names to capture what they are ultimately all about. Too often however this ‘-ism’ gives leaders’ actions a fake coherence. Margaret Thatcher certainly had a clear vision of where she wanted to go when elected Conservative leader

Why I’m backing Corbyn’s ‘peace and justice’ project

He’s back. A year after losing a second general election in a row, Jeremy Corbyn has launched his ‘Project for Peace and Justice’ with a video on YouTube. He appears in a natty off-white jacket, with a tinge of blue, like a referee at the Henley Regatta. Speaking in a low, measured voice, as if reading a story to children, he recites an inventory of global problems which he proposes to solve. Behind him is the project’s slick new signage. The P and the J form an elongated oval, in smart white-striped livery, like the classic layout of the 1970s Scalextric track. This attractive piece of artwork must have cost

Corbyn’s Glastonbury blunder

Jeremy Corbyn is gone but at least we still have the memories. His son Tommy Corbyn shared one earlier from happier times, when Corbyn led the Labour party. Corbyn junior said watching his dad on stage at the festival was ‘one of the proudest moments of my life’: After Jeremy had finished speaking, he said, ‘one of the Glastonbury staff tapped me on the shoulder and said “you know he just got a bigger crowd than Rihanna’.  It was a touching moment, but Mr S spotted a problem. Rihanna has never played Glastonbury. Oh dear. Well, we’ll always have the memories…

Does losing the Labour whip really matter to Corbyn?

Jeremy Corbyn’s fan club has reacted with predictable outrage to the decision not to hand him back the party whip. Starmer’s refusal to do so was not ‘the right thing to do,’ said Labour MP Clive Lewis. ‘At a time of national crisis, division in the Labour party serves nobody but the Tory Government,’ said Richard Burgon. But Mr S wonders whether Corbyn will really be that bothered by the decision? During Labour’s last stint in power, Corbyn voted against the whip 428 times. And if you go further back, to when Corbyn first became an MP in 1983, he has voted against the whip 617 times during his time in Parliament. Under Tony Blair, perhaps

Isabel Hardman

Starmer refuses to give Corbyn the Labour whip back

Sir Keir Starmer has just announced he will not be restoring the Labour whip to Jeremy Corbyn following his comments about the extent of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party being exaggerated for political purposes. A panel of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee last night reinstated Corbyn as a member, but this morning Starmer said he would not do the same with the whip. You can read his full statement below. The reaction last night from Jewish groups to the NEC’s decision had made very clear that if Starmer accepted Corbyn back into the party on the basis of the non-apology he had issued, it would undo the new Labour

Jeremy Corbyn backtracks on Labour anti-Semitism

At the end of October Jeremy Corbyn was suspended from the party he loved and led, after suggesting that concerns about Labour’s anti-Semitism problem during his tenure had been ‘dramatically overstated’ for political reasons. At the time of his suspension, the former Labour leader seemed to strike a defiant tone. In a broadcast interview, Corbyn suggested that the number of Labour’s anti-Semitism complaints had been ‘exaggerated’ and that he was ‘not part of the problem’. Mr S wonders though if Corbyn might be worried about being re-admitted to the party. Today, the former Labour leader released a statement on Facebook which he had given to the party on the day of

The real test for Starmer will come post-Covid

Labour is gearing up for its first big Commons clash since returning from recess this afternoon, with shadow education secretary Kate Green taking on Gavin Williamson after his statement on the opening of schools and colleges. On the surface, the party has had its easiest summer in a long while, with no real factional battles or rows about its leader. Keir Starmer has bedded in quietly, and some Labour MPs have been able to switch off from thinking about the party for the first time in years. MPs who thought their party might have been over a year ago are now in an upbeat mood. ‘This is the first summer

Why Keir Starmer no longer needs to fear the left of his party

John McDonnell, Corbyn’s right hand man for four and a half years, was full of praise when asked about the official opposition’s handling of the Covid crisis. ‘Keir’s got this exactly right’ the ex-shadow chancellor told John Pienaar. But many of Corbyn’s loyal supporters didn’t agree; sparking an internal Labour argument between the party’s warring sides. It is tempting to point to the scrap and claim that it is yet more evidence of the difficulties Starmer faces to get Labour winning again, as the party’s internal battles never seem to end and in fact, are now being fought out between ever smaller factions. But another, more positive way for Starmer

Does ‘swathe’ rhyme with ‘bathe’ or ‘moth’?

At Glastonbury in 2017 ‘a whole swathe of young people had a political awakening’, chanting ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn’, said the Guardian last week. Swathes tend to be whole. Either that or vast, huge, great. Soldiers on first world war battlefields were mown down in them. If a swathe retains a literal meaning, on which its metaphorical use relies, it is presumed to be a sweep of hay or corn cut down by a scythe. What strikes me is the pronunciation. Everyone makes it rhyme with bathe. If anyone used the first pronunciation given by the Oxford English Dictionary, rhyming with moth, they’d hardly be understood. The second pronunciation recorded by

Full list: Keir Starmer’s new Shadow Cabinet

Keir Starmer, the newly elected leader of the Labour party, has taken no prisoners with his cabinet reshuffle. Corbyn allies like Richard Burgon are out, and Ed Miliband is back. Here is the full make-up of Starmer’s top team: Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: Anneliese DoddsFormerly: John McDonnell An Oxford PPE graduate, Dodds is a long time supporter of Starmer’s leadership campaign. She has served as a shadow Treasury minister since July 2017. She had even been tipped for promotion by the former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell in early March, as he said he was ‘hoping she gets a significant role in the new administration’. Dodds is the first woman to be

Jeremy Corbyn’s toxic legacy

What will we do without Jeremy Corbyn? We may never find out given how long it’s taking him to leave the stage. Even Sinatra’s farewell tour didn’t last this long. The problem is that Corbyn wants to be useful. While that would certainly be a change of pace, it places the onus on others to find a use for him. His disciples propose that he be kept on the front bench, perhaps as shadow foreign secretary, marking their progression through all six stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and Richard Burgon. There is a cruelty to all this. No one who has watched the video of Corbyn ambling around

Corbyn racks up another lacklustre PMQs

If a Prime Minister’s Questions before a Budget is rather lacklustre, then this is normally easily excused as being the Leader of the Opposition not putting as much prep as usual into a session that no-one will watch. But while today’s performance from Jeremy Corbyn was indeed lacklustre, it wasn’t any different from his offerings over the past few months. The Labour leader decided to focus on the lot of women in this country, given it was International Women’s Day at the weekend. He started with what seemed a pretty reasonable opener, which was demanding sick pay for those on zero hours contracts, particularly care workers who will need to

What would a Keir Starmer Labour party look like?

There’s still a month of the Labour leadership contest to go but most MPs have already concluded that Keir Starmer will win. The shadow Brexit secretary has led in every category so far: MPs, unions and local parties. As the contest enters its final stage, polling suggests the membership agree and Sir Keir will sail through. His closest rival, Rebecca Long-Bailey, is now seen as a ten-to-one outsider. One bookmaker is already paying out on a Starmer victory. But if the race seems all but over, the conversation about what he’ll do as Labour leader is very much on-going. Is he the leader that the party’s moderates have craved to

Kerslake’s covert Corbyn connection

Lord Kerslake is back. This time he’s been discussing Boris Johnson’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. In an article published in the Financial Times today, he implored the prime minister to spend £1 trillion over then next 20 years on closing the north-south divide. The FT wrote: In a report to be published on Thursday, the UK 2070 Commission led by former civil service chief Bob Kerslake, said the government must match its rhetoric with money and policies. The problem, as your humble reporter Mr S pointed out last month, is that Sir Bob isn’t merely a ‘former civil service chief’. He is also a Corbyn apparatchik, a fact that the FT

Corbyn’s PMQs virtue signalling ended badly

The floods got Jeremy Corbyn into a pickle at PMQs. The Labour leader started off by out-virtuing Boris. The PM had expressed sympathy with the victims of Storms Chiara and Dennis. Corbyn stood up. ‘My thoughts are with those suffering across the world with the corona-virus,’ he said tartly. He accused the PM of responding sluggishly to the inundations. Referring to an earlier crisis, he said, ‘I demanded that a Cobra meeting be called and [the Prime Minister] very reluctantly agreed.’ With the latest floods, Corbyn went on, he had once again ordered Boris to summon Cobra. But the PM had ignored the call. Why? Corbyn had his answer: ‘He

Could Bernie do to the Democrats what Corbyn did to Labour?

Bernie Sanders is a phenomenon in much the same way as Donald Trump was a phenomenon in 2016. His supporters worship him. His enemies detest him. And the reporters covering him are unsure what to make of his rise and appeal. Like Trump’s presidential candidacy four years ago, Sanders’ candidacy is riding on the back of extreme discontent in America. There are millions of Americans working longer hours for stagnant wages and spending a good chunk of what they do take in on health insurance premiums, rent, mortgage payments and loan payoffs. There is a pervasive disgust about the rich sending their money to tax havens while the average schlub

Julian Smith: Despite being sacked, it has been a weirdly good week

A doctor will tell you heart attacks may appear to come out of the blue, but if you look carefully, you can spot the telltale signs. The same is true of my prospects at last week’s cabinet reshuffle. Things seemed positive enough on Monday. I attended an event in London to celebrate the first same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. Westminster Hall was packed with many of those who had pushed social changes through last year, such as Lord Hayward and Conor McGinn, together with new MPs such as Colum Eastwood, the charismatic, debonair SDLP leader. But my suspicions were raised by Tuesday: my close protection apologised about the swap to