It’s time to let Jeremy Corbyn get on with leading the Labour Party now. I’ve had my say about my belief that he is unsuitable to do the job, not least because of his guilt by association of some very unpleasant people in the world, and because his beliefs are not always the same as mine. He didn’t just win the Labour leadership election, he obliterated the opposition.
I won’t even start when it comes to my views of shadow chancellor John McDonnell, but he did say something I very much agreed with when interviewed on the radio this morning. When asked why he had never before sought a cabinet or shadow cabinet job in the Labour Party, he answered by saying it was because he didn’t agree with the party’s policies at the time. Now, with his close friend and political ally in place at the top of the party that is no longer the case. By the same token, it would be nice if the left wing critics of Chuka Umunna, Rachel Reeves and Caroline Flint, among others, who have declined to join Corbyn’s cabinet, realised they have done nothing different to McDonnell.
The BBC is still talking constantly about Corbyn and the red tops are utterly obsessed with him and not in a nice way. The BBC will soon move on to other stories, but don’t expect the gutter press to let up: they never do, whoever the leader is. Certainly, there is a desire for Labour Party MPs and members to look to the future, even if some of us dread what it will bring. The poison from the likes of the Sun, now fortified by the return of Murdoch favourite Rebekah Brooks, may resonate with some of its readers and the predictably vile abuse from the Mail may appeal to some of its readers, but I am not sure they are in keeping with the mood of the country. I’m not pretending I am, either, but the truth is to most people, the vast majority of people, the election of Corbyn is of little significance. When Radio Five Live went to a car boot sale in Dewsbury on Sunday, hardly any of the people who were asked had ever heard of him, although one person did say they would vote for him if he did something about immigration! For those of us who take more than a passing interest in politics, views are mixed but no-one doubts the legitimacy of his leadership.
Whilst I find Corbyn uninspiring, unconvincing and generally airy about his agenda – his victory speech was a series of generalisations and largely devoid of serious content – there are several hundred thousand people who see something different about him. Listening to David Cameron, Priti Patel and Michael Fallon spinning a typical Lynton Crosby line about Labour being a threat to the country, each using exactly the same words, was utterly pathetic, especially since they are in opposition and the Tories have a parliamentary majority for the best part of the next five years. I don’t believe they fear Corbyn, with good reason, but they have been temporarily wrong-footed and the attacks were ill-judged. Corbyn’s more homespun speaking style certainly sounds, on the face of it, more rooted with ordinary people.
My own feeling, having seen the front pages of the gutter press, is that the vicious attacks on Labour in general and Corbyn in particular will continue for a long time to come. He has probably got a warehouse full of skeletons, never mind a wardrobe, and you can be sure each one of them will be discovered and displayed to undiscerning readers. Whether they will wear down Corbyn or their own readers first is anyone’s guess, but I am not sure the likes of Murdoch are as powerful as they used to be.
Somewhere along the line there will be an “I told you so!” moment, a time when the Corbyn leadership will unravel. It may be next year, it may follow disastrous election results in the next few years, the whole party might split down the middle, who knows? But until then, it is important that Corbyn produces policies that everyone in the Labour Party can support, campaign for and encourage people who previously supported other parties to vote for them.
If Corbyn can convince millions of swing voters to support Labour, as he has encouraged hundreds of thousands of supporters to vote for him, there may yet be hope. I’ll believe it when I see it, mind you, because I think the exact opposite will be the case, but Corbyn has the mandate to lead and now we need to let him get on with it.