A note on the Labour moderates sympathetic to Corbyn
Readers of this blog will know that I am a long-time critic of Jeremy Corbyn. I concur with the assessment of Nick Cohen; Corbyn’s links with several unsavoury regimes/groups render his aims immoral ones. There is little point repeating all of these arguments.
Today I want to write about the recent trend of Labour moderates reconciling themselves to the Corbyn Labour party. This has gone on since June, but was particularly conspicuous at the Labour party conference this week. Cases vary, but the phenomenon involves people who once argued against Corbynism on political and moral grounds endorsing Corbyn/at least going a fair way towards reconciling themselves to the man. Though I do not approve of the MPs who are doing this, I can appreciate their predicament. Such people have to consider i) the fact that they ran as Labour candidates in June, ii) various obligations in constituencies and iii) more prosaic matters related to their careers.
I am less sympathetic to journalists and academics. In the last few months, I have seen a number of examples of this tendency in these groups. Such people were once very critical of Corbyn, on both political and moral grounds, but now appear to have reconciled themselves to the Corbyn project. Political objections to Corbyn have admittedly now receded, yet this cannot be said for the moral objections. If the links of Corbyn with Venezuela/the IRA etc. were unsavoury a year ago, I do not see how they are any more wholesome today. Given the looser constraints faced by the journalists and academics who are doing this, one is tempted to arrive at uncharitable conclusions about their commitment to principles they once articulated. As Jamie Palmer said on Twitter in June, if the rise of Corbynism provoked moral alarm two years, it should give rise to more concern now that the man is closer to power.
A further reflection concerns the modest price of such support. The June Labour manifesto is notorious for the extent to which it gave resources to the middle-classes, yet failed to reverse benefit cuts to the poorest. There was even talk about the Labour manifesto being less redistributive than the Tory manifesto; I have also written about why, if one analyses the socio-economics of the Labour and Tory bases, this is unsurprising. Then there is the issue of Corbyn’s supine attitude to the most important challenge of our times: Brexit. If someone has objected morally to Corbynism, it surprises me that such a package could prompt a rethink.
For once, I suspect that this an argument of mine with which some Corbynites will be sympathetic. The ‘moderates’ who are now reconciling themselves to Corbyn don’t fool Momentum; they don’t fool me either.