Jeremy Corbyn Two Years On: CONFUSION -David Greensmith


My good friend and political sparring partner wrote the following blog for me in June, 2019. I agreed with him that I would publish it when Jeremy Corbyn was truly central stage in British politics. This week is probably Jeremy Corbyn’s moment in history.


 by David Greensmith

Following Labour’s remarkable performance in the 2017 General Election, when they repelled a viciously right-wing media and a dedicated ‘fifth column’ of Tory Blairite Labour MPs to come within a whisker of power, two years later there is a sense of confusion at the heart of Labour policy-making and presentation.

Central to the confusion is Labour’s endless fence-sitting regarding the biggest political upheaval since the Second World War.  I refer, of course, to the disaster that is Brexit.  With the Conservatives tearing themselves apart over Brexit and maybe entering a terminal decline, it is tempting , politically, for Labour to simply sit tight and watch them self-destruct.  This cannot however continue indefinitely and at some stage Labour needs to announce a proper, coherent policy – hopefully a second referendum to pull the country back from the Brexit abyss.

With the Tories in turmoil Labour should be way ahead in the political opinion polls.  Instead, support is going to the Brexit Party, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats.  Labour is still in front, but only by single digits.  The confusion and incoherence over Brexit is, I believe, a major factor in their relative lack of progress.

Corbyn is not, I feel, helped by his secretive and somewhat sinister inner circle of advisors, centred on Seumas Milne.  This group are way too prominent and too Eurosceptic, and have made a big contribution to the long-term Brexit fence-sitting which is damaging Labour.

In mitigation, Corbyn still has to deal with the problem  of unreconstructed Blairites in his party – politicians who would prefer continued Tory rule to a left-wing Labour government.  This problem can only finally be dealt with by deselecting the Blairites and replacing them with proper Labour candidates who support the party’s policies.  Back in Blair’s time, many good quality local candidates were rejected by Blair and his henchmen as too socialist, thereby allowing Blair to parachute in one of his Tory chums.  The Left is in the ascendancy now and the situation is reversed.

It is helpful that a number of uber-Blairites, including my own former MP Angela Smith, have formally severed their ties with the party and shown their true-blue colours, rendering a formal deselection process unnecessary.  They should, of course, now resign their seats and fight by-elections, but this is unlikely.

Another worrisome issue for Corbyn is that many traditional Labour  voters, swayed by the barrage of lies from the Brexiteers, voted strongly to leave the EU.  A call for a second referendum might not be popular with such people.

Politics in the era of 24-hour news is, more than ever, a trade where image and presentation matter.  Jeremy Corbyn recently celebrated his 70th birthday.  He is an intelligent and likeable man with some good policies – but he is not a star. Would it make sense for him to hand the reins over to somebody younger and more charismatic ?  Given Corbyn’s age, that question is sure to be asked.  The Tories are in the process of selecting a new leader as I write (June 2019), and maybe Labour should do the same.  I recall the early 1990s when the Tories, heading for electoral defeat in 1992, ruthlessly jettisoned the Margaret Thatcher and brought in John Major.  Labour failed to replace Neil Kinnock, and paid the price at the polls.

In summary, Corbyn and his party still face some formidable challenges and their cause is not helped by incoherence and dithering on the most important issue facing the United Kingdom.


Opinion – Battle begins – the Spectator – Fraser Nelson

Here’s a highly recommended article by Fraser Nelson, the Editor of the Spectator.

Boris Johnson is praised for being a decisive leader but the article looks at the political context, focusing on botched decisions by the Home Office, which are once again blamed on the systems with EU applicants for permanent UK residency told by the Home Office that they pressed the wrong keys.

I am a UK national, living in Cyprus, having recently received permanent residency in Cyprus. Because of demand, it took me a about four months to get and interview at Immigration – I used an agent at a cost of EUR200. The requirements were well documented. It’s important to have the right documents available. The interview at the Immigration Department, with my agent, took a few minutes and my certificate of permanent residency came through as promised several months later.

The UK Home Office has a long history of complaints and poor service to the public. If you open the link you will see an article which describes how the Home Office has profited financially by outsourcing decisions whilst complaints have escalated. Whether it’s outsourcing or systems failures, the Home Office never seems to blame the Minister for interventions and reversals. Of course, many question Preti Patel’s credentials as Home Office Minister. For sure the Home Office is heading for further scandals. Fraser Nelson questions whether the omnishambles will be on the scale of the Windrush scandal.

Rather than focus on the major battle lines, strategy and tactics, precipitated Boris Johnson, Fraser Nelson deep dives into the context – for me the analogy is whether there will be shovels to dig trenches. He tries but fails to paint Boris Johnson as a ‘One Nation Tory’. I remember well both David Cameron and Theresa May coming to power with one nation credentials – they failed to deliver, impaling themselves on Brexit.

In my judgement, Fraser Nelson is one of the shrewdest political commentators of his generation. This article gives us a subjective insight into the Government’s readiness for Brexit. For me, the natural tendency is to speculate on other high risk areas. I have seen central UK government’s risk management first hand and am deeply fearful for Brexit. Meanwhile, the stakes have never been higher for MPs to be accountable.

The article is entitled ‘Battle Begins’. History reminds us that when the jingoism subsides, there is often much blood and tears before victory or defeat.