Corbyn and the Left Exit argument

The sheer, brazen, nerve of the man: David Cameron telling Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions “For heaven’s sake man, go.”

It has nothing to do with David Cameron who the leader of the Labour Party is. It has nothing to do with the media, with Laura Kuenssberg or the Daily Mail. It has nothing to do with the electorate until such time as there is an election, and while Labour MPs, of whatever stripe, have a right to voice their concerns, it is not, finally, down to them either.

It is down to the membership, and most of us want Jeremy Corbyn to stay exactly where he is.

Unlike the EU, the Labour Party is a democratic organisation.

It is remarkably convenient, isn’t it, that this news about the Labour Party is distracting attention both from the splits within the Tory Party, and from the grave mess that the country finds itself in? None of this is down to Jeremy Corbyn. He didn’t call the referendum. He didn’t hand the racists a platform from which to speak. He’s not responsible for a disastrous and divisive campaign that has ripped the country in half, turning friend against friend, brother against sister, father against son.

48% to 52% is still too close to call. The country is in turmoil; the markets are jittery; nasty, febrile racism is on the rise. People are being attacked on the street simply because of their race or nationality. None of this is down to Jeremy Corbyn. All of it can be laid at David Cameron’s door.

Meanwhile Corbyn is being undermined by his own side in what looks remarkably like a prearranged coup.

In an earlier article I described Corbyn’s position as “win-win”. I now think that it may be the other way round.

Everyone knows that Corbyn is an instinctive Eurosceptic. He’s a Bennite, Tony Benn’s favourite MP. It’s a matter of record that it was Benn who called the last EU referendum in 1975, and that Corbyn has always spoken out against it.

So the Blairites had him in a pincer movement. Had he come out against the EU prior to the referendum campaign, they would have laid into him then. Had the remain camp won, they could still have berated him for his lacklustre performance, while waiting for another opportunity. As it happened, remain lost, and they were able to trigger their coup attempt on the back of that.

Whatever happened, Corbyn was always going to be the target.

I love Corbyn. He seems constitutionally incapable of lying. Thus, on the Last Leg, when asked how much, on a scale of one to ten he was in favour of the EU, he wavered and said, “about seven or seven and a half”. Any other politician in his position would have blustered and lied and said 11.

But I think that Corbyn made a tactical error by agreeing to be the main spokesman for the party in the remain campaign, albeit for entirely understandable reasons. He was trying to keep the party together. Recent events have shown that this was doomed to failure.

Meanwhile he let down many Labour voters who were always going to vote leave.

The media campaign made it look like it was racists versus anti-racists, right versus left, conservative versus liberal, nice people versus nasty people – but it was never as clear cut as that.

There were always good, sound, democratic left arguments for leaving the EU.

By kowtowing to the right in his own party Corbyn failed to speak up for the millions of Labour and ex-Labour voters who, worried by the effects of mass migration, crushed by austerity, seeing their living standards being eroded, and their public services in crisis, decided to give the whole political establishment a good kicking on the back of the referendum campaign.

Corbyn has never been part of that establishment. That’s why we voted for him.

We needed someone in a position of power to articulate the Left Exit argument.

That person should have been Jeremy Corbyn.


  1. Did he agree to lead it? I thought that role remained Alan Johnston’s throughout , and even then Labour voters polled fourth highest to Remain
    Greens – 75%
    Lib Dem – 70%
    SNP -64%
    Labour – 63%
    Cons – 42%
    UKIP – 4%(!)
    But I do think the idea of ‘leading’ needs fact checking. Much like Angela Eagle’s volte face on “Jeremy is incredibly active” on June 13th to the other day’s comments contradicting her view completely. She was either lying then or is lying now (based on the assumption she’s not just incompetent)


  2. Excellent article! Jeremy Corbyn and Tony Benn, the perfect pair, honest, principled, socialist to the core. I love them both. Very disappointed in Hilary though. He should have backed his leader. What dignity and courage Jeremy has shown through this debacle. He’s our last hope for a different kind of politics. If he goes, I go.


    • A lot of my friends are saying that he lacked passion in the campaign, and I agree. His heart wasn’t in it. But he’s not a charismatic sort of leader anyway. Blair was charismatic, and look where that lead us. Corbyn is principled, honest and slightly dull. I’d rather this than a charismatic liar any day.


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