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Why the level of vitriol against Jeremy Corbyn?


Whilst literally a derivative of metals, ‘vitriol’ according to the Oxford Dictionary, means bitter criticism or malice.

I quite enjoyed the pantomime of yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, the last appearance in that context from David Cameron. The body language on the front row was somewhat tense between Theresa May MP, about to be invited by the Queen to form a new government later that afternoon, and George Osborne MP, about to be sacked by the new Prime Minister.

Osborne, the Chancellor or ‘Chancer’ as he affectionately came to be known, had an atrocious record in government. This included at various points downgrading of the national credit rating, missing of all his self-set targets, and a ballooning national debt which in a few years of his tenure had even superseded the total which Labour had amassed in thirteen years.

Craig Oliver, close to the Cameron government, called Cameron the ‘quiet revolutionary’. It was  a genuine belief, it appears, of that incoming Government in 2010, that they were coming together in the national interest to deal with a large financial deficit left by Labour. Much of the Ed Miliband time in government was spent in critics of Labour drawing attention to this deficit, without Ed Balls doing much to address how it came about, arguably leading to his personal defeat and the Labour Party’s defeat in 2010.

And yet the economic performance of Osborne was bad. He was personally blamed in the sense that he was boo-ed at the Olympics. David Cameron, as it happens, was boo-ed twice this week, first with his mother at the Wimbledon final on Sunday, and second yesterday with Sam and children as they left Downing Street.

However, approval ratings of Cameron ‘as a leader’ have been consistently high. Even there was no putsch to get rid of Osborne, despite his atrocious performance. Cameron could always point to other aspects of the macroeconomy, but mainly a record level of employment. The qualification to this routinely trotted out by Labour was that this was mainly due to zero-hour contracts, but the Conservatives were able to combat this criticism with various statistics. Not once was it ever conceded that a record level of employment might have been due to a free movement of persons, something which you could credit the EU for.

Nobody openly asked for Osborne to be sacked. There was no coup against Osborne. Osborne and Cameron, despite the reality of the situation, were keen not to portray any psychodrama as had dogged the days of Brown with accusations of throwing Nokia phones. Such a schism would have done much to destabilise a Government, now with a wafer-thin majority. Any destabilisation might have set in process events which could cause a motion of no-confidence in the Prime Minister leaving due to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (although this statutory instrument was first devised to stop the LibDems from leaving the coalition.)

The contemporary meaning of vitriol these days is ‘bitter criticism’ or ‘malice’. Through the way that the defamation law works in England, you can’t sue me if I say something that’s true, or fair comment; or said perhaps in a court of law or parliament (even if the accusation is a strong one like being a ringleader of a pornography ring). But defamation is defeated by malice.

For supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, which includes non-exclusively ‘Corbynistas’, it has always been difficult to tell how much of the criticism is motivated by malice. People who haven’t experienced first hand the working style of Jeremy Corbyn will find it difficult to opine on his team building ability. However, when you get criticisms like ‘the leader’s office won’t even pick up the phone’, one is forced to wonder how much experience such critics have of the real world. I, for example, normally find it impossible to get hold of anyone in a large organisation. I don’t think I’d even know where to start in finding someone at the BBC or the NHS , let alone parliament.

Therefore, it has become easy to approach criticism of Jeremy Corbyn, even if valid roots, with much cynicism. For example, when you have Lucy Powell on the airwaves talking about how Corbyn doesn’t leave the bunker, or Angela Eagle saying he is shut behind ‘closed doors’, this produces massive cognitive dissonance with the numerous images of Corbyn addressing confidently large rallies in public.



Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership hustings appearances are available for all to see on You Tube. In fact, I recommend you watching them with the benefit of hindsight of who actually won. It’s obvious how the presenters undermine his existence at these debates by “begging up” the three other candidates (Kendall, Burnham and Cooper), of good New Labour stock compared to him, in both unspoken ways and spoken ways (“Jeremy Corbyn sneaked onto the ballot and had the fewest nominations by far“).

Corbyn has never been popular in the parliamentary party. In his heyday, he amassed 36 nominations, and this included Dame Margaret Beckett who was later to yield a verbal machete to him saying she had been a ‘moron’ a term widely used by John McTernan. McTernan mysteriously had become the self-selected expert of campaigns despite his heavy recent defeats in Scotland and in Australia. McTernan’s mission was to make Jim Murphy the Scottish heir to Blair, but of course that went belly up. The number of people who did not vote ‘no confidence’ (who logically do not necessarily hold confidence) was 40 the other week.

The late not so great Margaret Thatcher used to have a phrase ‘oh he’s one of us’. Corbyn is clearly not one of them, not having graduated through Fabian Women (joke), or Progress. He did not go to Oxford or Cambridge.

Corbyn has voted for what he has perceived as ‘good law’, and in fact these  tend to be the same examples Blairites use to describe their successes. such as the Equality Act or the national minimum wage. He has, however, voted on principle against the whip on matters he disagrees with, including the Iraq War. Tony Blair somehow managed to give an hour’s speech the other day in response to Chilcot without proferring an apology for the hundreds of thousands of innocent deaths, or the argued lack of due process in going to war including rigid observance of international law.

Corbyn was attacked for his perceived lack lustre performance in the EU referendum campaigning, even though he says he toured flat out to argue for the benefits of staying in a reformed Europe. This was exactly the same pitch as the Prime Minister’s, knowing that most of the country were fundamentally 50/50 or by a smidgeon ‘reluctant Brexiteers’. Cameron achieved 10% less than Corbyn “remainers” in their parties. Margaret Hodge MP representing a constituency profoundly Brexit blamed Corbyn and launched the no-confidence motion in him. But everyone knows that there were unresolved local issues in Barking and Dagenham, due to community disquiet about immigration.

All of this narrative is to frame Corbyn as a ‘failure’, and personally responsible for 52/48 vote in the EU Ref. But there were many other actors in the EU Ref, such as Alan Johnson MP whose own campaigning really was dismal. And the ‘failure’ narrative is catalysed by the idea that somehow voters are gullible or stupid, and it’s Corbyn’s fault not to have put his heart into setting out the case. Or even worse, many of his own voters are actually closet racists, and wanted to leave the EU, but Corbyn’s relative silence had somehow tipped them over the edge. It could be possible, for example, for all the best will in the world that many Labour voters consider themselves internationalist rather than attached to the EU – for example, Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper specifically referred to themselves as ‘internationalist’ as regards the UK’s place in the world in the Labour Leadership hustings last year.

This is not only profoundly insulting to Corbyn but also to the voters in the UK who voted for Brexit. Worryingly, it seems to be phenotypic of an arrogance, or at least out-of-touchness, of a part of Labour political class which does not really understand the immigration issue. Labour MPs are either intensely stupid or highly fraudulent to ‘blame’ Corbyn for that. Hilary Benn also might like to ‘react’ to the fact that the Conservative Party have just appointed two SoS Dr Liam Fox and David Davis MP as International Trade and Brexit ministers respectively – are the Tory Party getting chummy with UKIP voters because they think this holds the key to winning?

The reality is, nonetheless, that there have been moves afoot to undermine Corbyn and to get rid of him from day one. This is not paranoia. This is evidenced fact. Yesterday, John Mann had stated openly that he had been approached by a member of Owen Smith MP’s team about a possible leadership challenge six months ago. There has apparently been a Gmail list so people can co-ordinate action against Corbyn. All the media papers have taken a strong line against Corbyn, even though he has met all his local election challenges and has had a number of high publicity policy successes (e.g. on working tax credits).

We know that the Corbyn team has been undermined from day 1, and even before the actual announcement of the result of the election. As Tony McNulty MP correctly pointed out the other day there is a difference between ‘lack of solidarity’ and ‘people who simply disagree with you’. But it has to be remembered that potential key players has refused to work with Corbyn even pre-dating the result including Cooper, Reeves and Umunna. This of course has been incredibly frustrating for the Corbyn team.

The premise for the rejection of Jeremy Corbyn’s positioning is that his policies are radical, dangerous or plain weird. The outstanding problem is they are hugely popular with vast swathes of the current blossoming membership of Labour – for example improving the quantity and quality of social housing, doing something about the unconscionable poor value for money PFI contracts in the NHS, tackling at long last the failure of numerous success governments in tackling aggressive tax avoidance, not using austerity as an excuse to impose policy damaging the most vulnerable in society (such as welfare benefits for citizens who are physically disabled).

There is little real appetite to airbrush genuine serious inclusion problems in Labour which pre-date Corbyn. Unfortunately, some of the accusations of anti-semitism have been confused with genuine criticisms of the Netanyu government. It has been deeply unpleasant for people like me on Twitter, who are not anti-semitic at all, to be accused of being immoral for appearing to support Jeremy Corbyn.

Another “guilt by association” is the conflation of being a supporter of Corbyn with being a member of Momentum – and the meme that all members of Momentum are violent and aggressive Trots. Such high standards of guilt by association are not held, for example, for Thatcher and Pinochet, or certain people in Saudi Arabia Tony Blair has been photographed with with less than great records on human rights.

The ‘not one of us’ legitimises a reluctance to integrate with Jeremy Corbyn, meaning that there is little outward motivation it seems for the Labour parliamentary party to work with their leader. This is of course incredibly demoralising for people who have legitimately voted for Corbyn. Not all ‘entyists’ are people who know nothing about politics – many are indeed ‘returnists’ who have finally found a political philosophy they can agree with, from which they had felt disenfranchised.

For all the talk of Hilary Benn of winning, who has a vested interest in protecting the reputation of the policy of New Labour, there were serious flaws in policy in the New Labour era. One clear example is a target-driven culture, together with a rush to regulation and imposed financial constraints, which led to problems such as Mid Staffs, arguably. But there were others, such as disabled citizens feeling Rachel Reeves MP had very little interest in standing up for their interests. The decline of social care had become legitimised under New Labour, which is a massive problem as the NHS and social care operate in one ecosystem. This is all objectively captured in Labour progressively losing shares of the vote, even while ‘winning’. And the implosion in Scotland is undeniable.

The ‘not one of us’ narrative is incredibly pervasive. One of the attacks of Cameron, one of his more popular ones, was the report of his mum saying Corbyn’s choice of suit in #pmqs was unprofessional.

Corbyn yesterday was wearing a much more expensive suit, and Cameron was happy. It is uncertain what other personal sacrifices Corbyn has had to make to placate the mass media, like brushing the Queen’s hand when he became a Privy Councillor, nodding at a respectable inclination to the Queen, singing with gusto the National Anthem, and so on. These are not reasons to hate Corbyn – merely bully-boy excuses.

Margaret Hodge has repeatedly referred to the culture of ‘intimidation and bullying’ under Corbyn, and yet it is precisely a culture of intimidation and bullying demonstrated by Labour MPs touring TV studios trying to humiliate publicly Corbyn. They could spend more time doing their actual work.

All of this is a far cry from the murder of Jo Cox only recently. But for Hilary Benn ringing round collecting signatures of people who couldn’t work with Corbyn to relay to Corbyn in his face, Benn probably would not have been sacked. And the ludicrous situation would not have occurred where the NEC by only four votes allowed Corbyn to go automatically onto the ballot paper. It is pretty certain Corbyn will now win, with 171 parliamentary MPs having declared ‘no confidence’ in him. It is even more likely that he will win if the Eagle and Smith votes split the opposition. Owen Smith MP is not naturally attractive to core Labour voters because of his stance on NHS privatisation. Much core support for Labour has been lost of late in their lack of perceived defence of public services.


From “Crocels News”:

“The member of Parliament for Pontypridd, Owen Smith, has been outed as a supporter of greater private involvement in the NHS, only hours before his wife Liz Smith asks for the support of the people of Llantrisant in voting for her.”

“Prior to standing for election Owen Smith worked as a lobbyist for drugs firm Pfizer. During that time, Owen Smith called for more involvement of such private firms in the NHS. “We believe that choice is a good thing and that patients and healthcare professionals should be at the heart of developing the agenda,” he said on behalf of the firm.”

“Asked to explain why he sought public office whilst earning a six-figure sum from Pfizer, Owen Smith said Pfizer were “extremely supportive” of him seeking to enter Parliament. Speaking about the early-day motion to reduce the involvement of Pfizer in the NHS, Owen Smith added: “We (he and Pfizer) feel that their (other wholesalers’) campaign to mobilise opposition to our proposals is entirely motivated by commercial self-interest.“”

On PFI, Smith declares, “I’m not someone, frankly, who gets terribly wound up about some of the ideological nuances.” These ‘ideological nuances’ have instead caused much taxpayers’ money to leach out into the private sector at an unconscionable rate, stripping the NHS bare of money for frontline staff.

If it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.

So – if the party is intensely relaxed about City-friendly policies, and the culture of the parliamentary party is fundamentally different to the membership, the logical conclusion is that the leaders for the overall party and the parliamentary party are not necessarily the same. But in a case of ‘who gets to keep the china’ in divorce proceedings, there is a legitimate question of whether Unions should sponsor MPs who are perceived to undermine the leadership.

“Representatives from the CWU Bristol branch, which has 3,000 members, voted unanimously to halt payments to all three MPs last Wednesday and the decision was ratified this week. Their plans were announced at a pro-Corbyn rally on June 29.

Wotherspoon said: “If someone wishes to stand against the leader there is a process for that – and there will be an election, which is entirely fair. We would expect Jeremy to be returned with an increased mandate.

“These MPs did not bother to meet with their local parties or supporting trade unions before getting involved in this failed coup, who would have overwhelmingly opposed such action.””

Be in no doubt – Corbyn is the victim of real toxic leadership from other Labour MPs and ‘media friends’ of theirs.

Whereas his critics are making much noise, Corbyn looks set to a peaceful ‘quiet revolutionary’.

But he will need to neutralise at least the vitriol of others aimed at others, like the very dangerous levels of nastiness at female MPs – from a class of misogynist terrorists. The very least is that he should expel them after due process from the Labour Party if at all connected. The stand on this has not been strong at all, giving the impression that Corbyn does not actually care (which is presumably not the case). Also, there has been very little in the way of detail for Corbyn’s policies as opposed to grandstanding on pretty unobjectionable socialist (but moderate) policies. Much of the fear that these policies are extremist I feel could be mitigated against if Corbyn had a crack team of intelligent policy people who could work out how to operationalise his strategy, for example on negotiating PFI or tackling aggressive tax avoidance. This does mean a universe more substantial than the leaders’ office, and possibly substantially more resourcing unless there has been a boom in Paul Mason post capitalism. Corbyn and McDonnell have made huge inroads in economic policy, despite some casualties, but health and social care would be a one to target next. Furthermore, it will be necessary to draw on existent work, including the anticipated work on #Brexit from May’s government and the civil service. If #Brexit is going to be the big issue in the next four years, there might NOT be much time, money or inclination to turn the UK into a socialist superstate nirvana anyway.

The situation is rather tragic actually, but, as someone who has voted Labour for the last 26 years for all of my adult life, I can say confidently it is all of the parliamentary Labour Party’s making. Just look to see the humiliation Corbyn had to go through with the NEC, when the rules were perfectly clear that he would be entitled automatically to be on the ballot.


Angela Eagle’s “Contrived Leadership” was overbranded and underauthentic

According to Henry Miller, “The Wisdom of the Heart” in The Wisdom of the Heart (1941), “The real leader has no need to lead — he is content to point the way.

Angela Eagle had branded herself with no expense spared under the brand of “Real leadership“. It has been heavily pumped out that, like Falstaff in Henry IV Part I, Angela has an unique ability to reach people.

Unfortunately, our survey said – from last year














Angela Eagle’s leadership launch yesterday pointed the way to a leadership style that is far from ‘real’. It was heavily stylised and branded, and attracted various remarks such that Eagle was presenting a brand new daytime TV show.

Branding is notoriously used by marketing professionals to convey a brand identity and brand values, but the brand identity was at best confused – pink reflecting Harman’s buses, but not the deep red of the Labour rose.

Instead, the over the top highly polished marketing conveyed a brand identity of style versus substance, with very little in the way of content.




The huge placards were a great attempt at personal branding, but the confused signature of Eagle seemed to spell out the word ‘Arrrgh’ for many. After the highly contrived whoops and wolf whistles reflecting a cappucinoed-up audience, Angela Eagle looked as if she was about to present an item on how she got over walking out on her partner without any warning, with a special item on making an offer for your first house to follow. The script felt like someone had built it essentially from regular use of ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ buttons with someone mentally thinking humble background TICK comp TICK Oxford TICK socialism TICK.

With very little in the way of substance on anything, such as the role of stakeholder involvement in the economy, or the importance of the NHS, one was left wondering whether such a trite offering was the natural end point of the ‘death by focus group’ culture of New Labour, so well described in Philip Gould’s “Unfinished Revolution”.

History repeated itself. The same criticisms of the New Labour spin machine was vividly tangible in the Eagle pitch.

‘Campaign’ on the decline of the New Labour brand:

“Yet the actions of Labour’s spin doctors caused serious concern among senior advisers. In a memo written by Gould and leaked to the press in 2000, he warned that the government had been “undermined by a combination of spin, lack of conviction and apparently lack of integrity”. He concluded: “The New Labour brand has been badly contaminated.”

The rapid decline of the political brand that is “New Labour” is extensively and elegantly described elsewhere.

Lily Allen (@lilyallen) even likened it to Eagle  launching a brand new brand of perfume.
















One sharp Twitter observer pointed out it probably “smelt of the sweet smell of defeat”.

The actual content of the speech in the end was bland and contrived. It was delivered with excessive hand gesticulations that was worthy of someone who clearly felt uncomfortable at public oratory.

Eagle pointed out inanely as she regularly does how Corbyn preferred, on the other hand, to operate “behind closed doors”, when there is clearly photographic evidence to the contrary.




And there’s the rub.

“Real leadership” does not as such exist as a class of leadership regularly referred to by leadership specialists. It most closely relates to a style of leadership known as “authentic leadership”.

Authentic leadership is an approach to leadership that emphasises building the leader’s legitimacy through honest relationships with followers which value their input and are built on an ethical foundation. This statement can only hold true for Eagle if she is only referring to some of the parliamentary Labour Party, not the vast army of the grassroots activists who resent the coup. Generally, authentic leaders are positive people with truthful self-concepts who promote openness. The perception of the coup is Hilary Benn MP flagellating with Jeremy Corbyn MP in an early morning conversation about how many signatures Benn had amassed of people who had ‘no faith’ in Corbyn’s leadership.

Deeper scrutiny of the concept runs into the buffers.

Because the concept itself is not yet fully mature in a theoretical sense, there are many different definitions of authentic leadership, each with its own nuances. A consensus appears to be growing that authentic leadership includes these distinct qualities:

  • Self-awareness: An ongoing process of reflection and re-examination by the leader of his or her own strength, weaknesses, and values. There is clearly no self-awareness for the sense of hurt and betrayal in the perception that Angela Eagle, Hilary Benn, and others, have set in motion a set of events which might ultimate see the Labour Party split.
  • Relational Transparency: Open sharing by the leader of his or her own thoughts and beliefs, balanced by a minimisation of inappropriate emotions.
  • Balanced Processing: Solicitation by the leader of opposing viewpoints and fair-minded consideration of those viewpoints. Angela Eagle saying she is a “pragmatic socialist” does not actually make her a socialist, even though socialism is notoriously difficult to define. There has been no outreach to traditional socialist views in the party from Angela Eagle to people such as Diane Abbott, John McDonnell, Dennis Skinner, Ian Mearns or Jeremy Corbyn, for example as far as one can tell.
  • Internalized Moral Perspective: A positive ethical foundation adhered to by the leader in his or her relationships and decisions that is resistant to outside pressures. Although Tony Blair famously “didn’t do God”, one wonders what the ethical perspective to the rush to war running roughshod over international law and due process, as evidenced by #Chilcot, might have been. Wanting, though, to reach out to as many different people as possible, Angela Eagle maintained she was not a Blairite. That is fine, but ‘ethical Eagle’ did vote for the Iraq War.

Another facet greatly undermining Eagle’s claim to be ‘real’ is her real U-turn from a missive which she herself sent out in the Deputy Leader contest last year.

Dear Labour Party Member,

I said today that the political elite need to lay off Jeremy Corbyn.

I would happily serve under anyone the members choose to be our leader. Why? Because I respect the wisdom of our members, supporters and affiliates and our Party’s process of electing a new leadership team. Every candidate has the right to be heard and put forward a vision for Labour’s future and, whether you agree with Jeremy Corbyn or not, he is in the race and is entitled to participate.

So the talk of coups, remarks about not serving in Shadow Cabinets and former Prime Minister’s telling people to get ‘heart transplants’ need to stop now.

When I launched my Deputy Leadership campaign I said that I want to unite the Labour Party and focus our efforts on defeating the real enemy – the Tories.

I am a proud trade unionist but I’ve never been in any faction and I’ve always been loyal. I’ve never been afraid to speak out when we got it wrong either, like I did over Foundation Hospitals or University Tuition Fees and that is why I am speaking out now because the public attacks are only helping our political enemies.

Let’s debate but let us do it with respect. If I am elected Deputy Leader, there will be a place for all views and opinions in the Labour Party. I’ll make sure of that by uniting us and preparing us for the battles ahead.

I hope you will join my campaign and together we can build a movement that we can all be proud of.

Best wishes,
Angela Eagle MP
Labour Deputy Leader Candidate

It is well known that there are many people who voted for Angela Eagle to be deputy leader because of her promise to back specifically Jeremy Corbyn, and er dismissal of coups.

Colour is an important cultural consideration, and one can assume that Angela Eagle’s choice of pink was not a gratuitous example of #everydaysexism but was an intention to reflect a cultural stereotype.

Labour’s controversial use of pink is well known from the pink buses used to garner the female vote for Labour in the 2015 election campaign, espoused by a certain Harriet Harman who happened to be sitting in the audience in her failed ‘Woman to Woman’ campaign. Previously female van drivers interviewed by BBC Newsbeat gave the van a cool reception, with one saying “It’s a bit patronising and seems like a bit of a cop out”.

















All of this was a huge contrast to Theresa May MP yesterday who started the day as one of two Conservative leadership candidates, and ended the day as Prime Minister in waiting. I thought her speech in the morning was challenging and interesting, articulate and inclusive, in equal measure, and in fact reminded me of Ed Miliband’s speech to the Labour Conference on ‘responsible capitalism’. You felt in fact the hand of Lord Stewart Wood in the theory behind this speech – both Wood and Miliband had maintained an interest in co-determinism, having stakeholder representation on management boards, in Germany, from their university days at the University of Oxford.

Take for example this passage which concerned essentially Ed Miliband’s notion of ‘predatory capitalism’ (and for which Miliband attracted much derision at the time).

“Because as we saw when Cadbury’s – that great Birmingham company – was bought by Kraft, or when AstraZeneca was almost sold to Pfizer, transient shareholders – who are mostly companies investing other people’s money – are not the only people with an interest when firms are sold or close. Workers have a stake, local communities have a stake, and often the whole country has a stake. It is hard to think of an industry of greater strategic importance to Britain than its pharmaceutical industry, and AstraZeneca is one of the jewels in its crown. Yet two years ago the Government almost allowed AstraZeneca to be sold to Pfizer, the US company with a track record of asset stripping and whose self-confessed attraction to the deal was to avoid tax. A proper industrial strategy wouldn’t automatically stop the sale of British firms to foreign ones, but it should be capable of stepping in to defend a sector that is as important as pharmaceuticals is to Britain.

And I want to see changes in the way that big business is governed. The people who run big businesses are supposed to be accountable to outsiders, to non-executive directors, who are supposed to ask the difficult questions, think about the long-term and defend the interests of shareholders. In practice, they are drawn from the same, narrow social and professional circles as the executive team and – as we have seen time and time again – the scrutiny they provide is just not good enough. So if I’m Prime Minister, we’re going to change that system – and we’re going to have not just consumers represented on company boards, but employees as well.”

The contrast between Labour and the Conservatives could not have been greater for me yesterday. In contrast to the Conservatives appointing a new leader for one who had resigned following Brexit, Angela Eagle’s team was deliberately contriving every possible way possible to get Jeremy Corbyn off the ballot. Such manipulative Machiavellian working has a result, of course, which is the complete anethema to democratic socialism. It would be highly objectionable, if only for reasons of natural justice, to exclude the incumbent from applying for his own job. Besides, the rule book could not be clearer on the need for nominations from ‘challengers’ – and whatever your view of the rules of statutory interpretation, it is hard to call Corbyn a challenger to his own job.


Thankfully for the Labour Party Theresa May has already decided not to go for a ‘snap election’, presumably as she would like time for her leadership to take effect while negotiating Brexit as a ‘reluctant brexiteer’. She has a limited two year time window put in place by the legal mechanism of Article 50, that is the notification of the UK to the EU of its intention to leave the European Union. So, despite any wishes from the Daily Mirror or MPs seeking a ‘fresh mandate’, it is very likely Labour will have until the first Thursday of May 2020 at the very least with a leader – but for the antics of Hilary Benn, the parliamentary Labour Party would not be in the laughing stock situation of being ‘stuck’ with Jeremy Corbyn, a brand they have tried to rubbish at all opportunities, rather than a MP they could have worked with despite difficulties in solidarity, for years. It is impossible, one thinks, that Angela Eagle could have known that Theresa May had delivered such a powerfully left-centre speech that morning. It was humiliating for core longstanding Labour voters that Angela Eagle’s speech was politically positioned much further right than Theresa May’s that morning. With Theresa May having so convincingly parked her tanks on Ed Miliband’s political lawn, the Corbyn option is extremely well positioned now actually.

But the parliamentary Labour Party have dug their own grave. It remains to be seen what, if anything, Owen Smith can bring to proceedings. Anyway, Angela Eagle’s launch was contrived, superficial, bland and uninspiring.

And best summarised by her Question/Answer session.

For me, Angela Eagle is part of the problem for Labour’s electability, not the solution
















I’m not even a Corbynista. I’m not a Trot. I’m not a member of the Socialist Workers Party. I am not a Member of Momentum.

I have merely voted Labour since 1990. I’ve been a member of Progress some time ago. I became bored with their flaccid uncritical superficial meetings. I’ve retained membership of the Fabian Society since about 2010, and I occasionally go to conference.

For the first time in my political life I am tempted (a bit) by the Liberal Democrats.




You have to say all this to pre-empt the huge abuse you get these days, mainly from liberal Guardian readers, who are fully signed members of the clubs above – who seem to have with them a strange sense of entitlement within the Labour Party.

You see –

I think I recently had to block Angela and Maria Eagle MP, who share the same birthday from what I remember from being Facebook friends with them. There had been no uncivil disobedience or even the slightest of interaction. I just felt like changing the locks before I knew we were to go our separate ways.

It was a clean break. I don’t think Angela checked in that much into Facebook. She certainly had never commented on my posts.

If there is one thing that this particular coup has taught me it’s the sheer personal unpleasantness about it. People I like, for example Alastair Campbell and Tom Baldwin, and in fact Neil Kinnock, have driven me up the wall with their comments about the unworkability of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership after merely nine months. Alastair Campbell by his own admission recently in a TV interview said he had little involvement with the Party, but he seems pretty “hands on”, to me anyway.

The coup reeks of Tony Blair and New Labour. It’s obvious that the conception of this, ironically, was 9 months ago, and now the baby is being delivered on time. The fundal height is about 39 cm – except the coup baby has its head pointed in the wrong direction and contractions were slow to start. But started they have. Angela (not Andrea) has announced she will be making an announcement on Monday, whereas Owen Smith works out whether his candidature might split the vote (not a difficult decision to make).

This coup is the Chilcot of coups. It has been done with little regard to the rule book. There has been a lot of ‘will she? won’t she?’ about Angela standing, given the problem of Jeremy having to resign first before ceremonies begin. In the wait for a second UN resolution not forthcoming, Angela has mobilised her tanks onto Jeremy’s lawn, so to speak. There’s absolutely bugger all plan for the world post Jeremy. There will inevitably a bit of a bloodbath, and civil war and anarchy emerging as victors. Possibly the Labour Party will split. Who knows?

The last two weeks, “Waiting for Chilcot” and Godot was it boring, felt like a bit of a phoney war to me. Dan Hodges was tweeting factoids such as this.

Alice Mahon tweet

But it turned out that the truth was considerably more complicated – but in this post fact bullshit era, accelerated by Twitter, a smear is a smear.

This is what Wikipedia had to say about Alice Mahon’s involvement here.


But it turned out that Alice Mahon’s resignation from the Labour Party turned out to be considerably more interesting, which ‘journalist’ Dan Hodges was not keen to alert you to. This, together with her view of Damian McBride, made for interesting reading.


As I said, a smear is a smear. Whilst it is clear that Labour has foci of deep seated issues, I found it impossible doing due diligence on each smear as they came along, such was the volume of them.

So, when Angela finally declared her candidature (again), I was mightily relieved.

Of course, the idea of one leader being ‘to blame’ is a very outdated, if incorrect, concept of how leadership actually works.  This article from the Guardian, a well known Corbynophobic paper, explains some of the nuances.

“Leaders may be in charge but they are not always in control. Those leading complex organisations need a high tolerance of uncertainty and ambiguity; the capacity for reflexivity, enabling them to notice how they and others are being caught up in the game of organisational life; the ability to recognise patterns of activity between them and their colleagues and more broadly in the organisation; and political savvy as well as knowing how to negotiate, persuade and form alliances.”

And furthermore, if Chuka, Liz, Rachel or Liz refuse to serve, to name but a few, your options are limited. And if you’re then victimised to high heaven in your organisation by colleagues, it can be difficult to be an effective leader, one can argue.

Under such a toxic culture, it is clear that the current Labour Party in parliament is not fit for purpose. In the last nine months since Corbyn’s election, I have heard nothing from the Shadow Secretary of State for health on an intention to solve the growing deficit in NHS finances, nor what to do about the private finance initiative, which would have required urgent work early on working with the Shadow Chancellor. I’ve heard nothing about how the Shadow Secretary of State intended to progress on ‘whole person care’, which had been advanced by Andy Burnham MP, a form of person-centred integrated care. I heard nothing about what was to be done about reconfigurations in the NHS, as this issue was outsourced entirely to Simon Stevens’ Five Year Forward View. In other words, Labour became a total waste of space on health. Expectedly, a senior representative from health was unwilling to support the junior doctors on the picket line, and no discussion was uttered about the possible contagion of the problems with the junior doctor contract on consultants or GPs, or indeed other clinical staff.

And maybe it’s time to remind Angela Eagle MP of this small matter – how she was singing a rather different tune in the ‘Left Futures’ last year during the Deputies’ race. The one where Angela came 4th – now reported in various places as “massive grassroots support”.





The text of this is:

“Angela Eagle, candidate for Deputy Leader, weighed in on the leadership debate yesterday attacking those who have said they would not work with Jeremy Corbyn, and calling for the party’s elite to respect the membership’s decision if they elect him.

Writing to members, Eagle said, “I would happily serve under anyone the members choose to be our leader. Why? Because I respect the wisdom of our members, supporters and affiliates and our Party’s process of electing a new leadership team. Every candidate has the right to be heard and put forward a vision for Labour’s future and, whether you agree with Jeremy Corbyn or not, he is in the race and is entitled to participate. So the talk of coups, remarks about not serving in Shadow Cabinets and former Prime Minister’s telling people to get ‘heart transplants’ need to stop now.”
This followed stories in the Independent last week that Labour MPs were plotting a coup to remove Corbyn by triggering an immediate re-election, if he were to win, and comments from Tony Blair that Corbyn supporters needed a ‘heart transplant’.”

I like Tom Watson – I’m friends with him on Facebook, and followed by Tom on Twitter. I don’t subscribe to all the ‘I’ve felt very let down by Tom’ remarks about Tom on Twitter, with words such as ‘sabotage’ unhelpfully used by Len McCluskey in relation to rather dubious negotiations.

And it’s become bloody easy for the social democratic/Liberal journo class to crap on about how Corbyn fans always talk about his ‘democratic mandate’. For all the brilliance of the leadership of Ed Miliband, loyal adult life long Labour members like me had to endure the indignity of the #EdStone from Lucy Powell and a million conversations from somewhere. I remember Ed wanted to have a conversation with me, no doubt as a bloody PR stunt. I don’t blame Tom Baldwin even.

But Ed’s Labour LOST the election.

This means that Labour MPs have to implement Government policy even in their locality – which they seem to be more keen to do than, say, doing something about unconscionable private landlords, or aggressive tax avoidance, or the lack of social housing stock, just because “the leaders’ office made me do it“.

Of course, Labour MPs can rebel against all these highly immoral policies at the NEC, while meanwhile in the real world Andrea Leadsom advances the Am Dram Front.

And – it’s not all to do with “that butty“.

There’s a reason why Ed lost the election for Labour – and the Labour Party machine lost it. Many of us who support Corbyn know why. It’s not actually to do with foundation trusts or PFI, or section 75 Health and Social Care Act (2012). For me, it’s all to do with the full adherence to the austerity agenda, which is a political choice not an economic one as the meme goes. Because Labour did not address its perceived lack of credibility on the economy, not helped by Ed Balls’ personal branding which ensured he himself lost his seat, Labour had to look like the Tories in their embracing of cuts. This went down like a lead balloon with many wondering ‘what on earth is the point of Labour?’ which was symbolised with all of the Labour leadership candidates ABSTAINING on welfare reform apart from Jeremy Corbyn. Rachel Reeves MP had written several offensive articles to the disabled community. I am physically disabled, so when John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn gave their full support to WOW Petition, I loved it. I lost my disability living allowance for no reason from the previous government, which I won back through the law courts. Labour did not speak to me at all on this – apart from Jeremy Corbyn. I am not a Corbynista.

And if you ‘embrace’ austerity, the rest follows. You call NHS hospitals ‘unsustainable’ whereas you actually mean you DON’T WANT to fund them properly. And if hospitals are negotiating PFI loan repayments, and the guidance on safe staffing is lax, with efficiency ‘savings’ expected, there’s a perfect storm compromising quality in the NHS. If you then strip social care to the bone (this budget has not been protected since 2010), it is reasonably foreseeable that patients will be stockpiling in hospital, not being able to be discharged through no fault of their own, disparagingly called ‘bed blockers’ by an incompetent and biased media.

That’s why I continue to support Corbyn.

Angela, despite her ‘vision’, does not do it for me. I think her voting record is somewhat irrelevant given that she will have been whipped according to the crazy parliamentary system (so she would have voted for Tory welfare changes, the Iraq War). For me, though, I can’t envision a future Labour leader having voted for a war that might be perceived as legitimised mass murder. She is meant to be the shadow business secretary, and yet I had no idea about her steer on EU v internationalism during the #Brexit campaign. All of this is ancient history, I suppose – for example, the Parliamentary Labour whips help out with coups now.

It’s got nothing to do with the fact I am according to my detractors in a cult (though if you want lessons in personality cults, I suggest you go to one of the many cliquey meetings of Progress with every excuse for Tony Blair possible laid bare). It’s all to do with the fact that many of us are fed up of being served up essentially the same meat with different gravy.

How do I feel, though, about a split following the Angela Eagle plan? To steal Lord Mandelson’s phrase, and I am sure his pupil Owen Smith MP will too in a Pontypridd way, I’m “intensely relaxed”.

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