Sunday, 29 July 2018

Corbyn’s ill-judged reaction to Margaret Hodge’s comments may just become his undoing

Jeremy Corbyn has really not had a good week. It was the week when the dam really finally burst on anti-Semitism, with the PLP wholeheartedly rejecting the party’s “doctored” definition of anti-Semitism, one-third of British voters surveyed thinking him an anti-Semite and an unprecedented and scathing joint editorial on the front page of the UK’s three most prominent Jewish newspapers, condemning Corbyn. But more of that later. On Tuesday, he also finally came out as a full-blooded Brexiteer.

Over the last two years, Jeremy Corbyn has increasingly irritated Labour’s Remainers (who, according to überpollster Prof. John Curtice, are actually in the majority in the party nationally and not just in London, as many previously thought), by his disingenuous attempts to ride two horses at once over Brexit.

And somewhat inexplicably, he has chosen this moment, when everything is going spectacularly badly, to “come out” for Brexit and try to sell its “benefits”.

His “British jobs for British workers” 1970s schtick may resonate with some Labour voters, yes (let us not forget that Gordon Brown once tried much the same). However, apart from the economic illiteracy of the approach, toughness on immigration is not actually the vote-winner it once was, as the latest Social Attitudes Survey now shows.

In fact, in view of the recent Cabinet turmoil over Brexit and dire warnings arriving from all quarters about the possibility of No Corbyn could scarcely have timed his “coming out” as a Leaver worse.

No, one of Corbyn’s many problems as leader is that his judgement is hardly consistently good.

Thursday, 19 July 2018


I realise that the Centre Left has been more than a little focused recently on the continuing slow implosion of the Labour Party, however what is happening on the world stage right now as a result of the Trump-Putin and NATO summits is both significant and deeply disturbing.

The president of the United States has not only made it clear that he does not feel compelled to stick to the NATO treaties which have kept the peace in Europe these last 70 years. He has essentially given signals to the Russian president that he might invade one of its members - the tiny state of Montenegro - with impunity.

It may not have been entirely coincidence that Trump elbowed the country's president out of the way at the previous NATO summit in 2017.

The world now has two people with access to the nuclear button who are clearly aligned with each other, and not in a good way. As I wrote last night:
We shall see if this fear turns out to be well-founded. I really hope not. 20th century history has shown us that "little" wars in the Balkans do not always stay that way.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Labour and anti-Semitism: enough really is enough

anti-Semitism rally
The original #EnoughisEnough demo against anti-Semitism, March 2018
What with the Cabinet crisis, NATO summit, Trump visit and World Cup, it is easy to pass over some events in the Labour Party which could be accurately described as momentous. And not in a good way.

Last week may have been the week where the Corbyn leadership really crossed the Rubicon on anti-Semitism. Or worse, in fact: it took its already highly-questionable position and doubled down.

Perhaps for the first time, serious, sensible and non-partisan people are describing Labour as “institutionally anti-Semitic”. And it’s not hard to see why.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Corbyn fiddles while Europe, and the world, reach for the matches

Image result for violin imagesIt is somewhat inevitable, in the current, febrile political climate, that Tony Blair’s few interventions elicit disproportionate responses in Britain. Even when those interventions conclude little that most Western commentators outside Britain, or a European historian of average talent, would disagree with.

In part, this is because in Britain the unspoken May-Corbyn alliance on Brexit has meant effective mainstream unity on that subject.

That is, the only senior politicians who speak out against it are either (a) the leaders of minor parties (Greens/Lib Dems/SNP), or (b) retired heavyweights not bound by the party whip. So it is easy for him to outweigh the rest of the pack.

Love him or hate him, of all those, Blair is unquestionably the heaviest, in terms of prime ministerial experience at least. Against fellow living ex-PMs Major, Brown and Cameron, he wins on years (10 vs. 7, 3, 6); general election victories (3 vs 1, 0 and 2); and was never defeated in either a GE or a national referendum either, unlike the others.

And his latest intervention is not just correct: even if you disagree with him on Brexit (which, according to the latest YouGov poll, now puts you with less than half the population), it’s difficult to disagree with what he says about populism and the similarities to the 1930s.

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