Corbyn at his best … and his worst

July 19, 2015 at 9:35 pm (anti-semitism, islamism, Jim D, labour party, left, Middle East, reactionay "anti-imperialism")

I am a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader. I campaigned for him within Unite before the Unite leadership decided to back him.

As such, I think its important for all of us who support Corbyn to put 15 minutes aside to watch this 13 July Channel 4 News interview by Krishnan Guru-Murphy.

On domestic policy, Corbyn is excellent, clearly rejecting Harman’s position on welfare cuts, advocating higher taxation of the super-rich, and speaking up in defence of immigrants. That’s why I and others like me support him.

But on foreign affairs he is – and let’s be frank – shite. Corbyn dodges the questions  dishonestly although quite effectively

Yes, Guru-Murthy was probably determined to discredit Corbyn but why can’t he (Corbyn) say on national television what he has already said to countless left-wing audiences: that Hamas and Hezbollah are good, progressive people?

Corbyn doesn’t have the guts to come out and say that openly on TV because he knows that, outside the Stalinoid ‘common sense’ of the pseudo-‘left’, most people (rightly) think supporting these fascistic anti-Semites is outrageous. So he obfuscates and pretends what he said was just about supporting multilateral peace talks, etc (the bit where he says “I’ve also engaged with people on the right of Israeli politics on this issue” – which is simply untrue). Instead of answering the question, he becomes angry and self-righteous. His response to a reasonable line of questioning is, frankly, a dishonest disgrace.

Corbyn does not raise his policy on Israel/Palestine much in his campaign – probably because he realizes how unpopular it is.

Corbyn has been comparatively open that he does not see himself as Labour leader at the next election. I am told that he has said that there should be another leadership election before 2020. This is what I would want in the event that he wins: in which case some of his more idiotic positions on foreign policy may not matter so much.

A bigger problem with Corbyn (and where he may not be in a minority on the Labour left) is the issue of Syria.

Kurdish representatives of the pro-Rojavan PYD went to see him last week. As I understand it they were hoping to get him to moderate his total opposition to Western airstrikes as well as call for arms for the secular Kurdish militias. This would mean Corbyn moving away from his position of simply endorsing the positions put out by the Stop The War Coalition. It would be an ideal way for him to demonstrate that he is not ‘soft on militant Islamism’, but it would involve  breaking with the Stalinist/soft-left consensus on Syria/Iraq: something that Corbyn’s politics and established alliances will not allow him to do. It is something that should be raised by Labour leftists alongside Kurdish organizations.

The serious left must support Corbyn, but not hesitate in exposing and denouncing his truly wretched positions on foreign affairs.


  1. Glasgow Working Class said,

    Jim the Labour affiliated political levy payers did not get a vote. My wife is a bit upset about this. 25 yrs she has been paying and the Unite elite cast her vote. Time to end this nonsense or in step the Tories.

    • Jim Denham said,

      labour political levy payer (and “supporters” *do* get a vote in an individual postal ballot. The Unite Exec merely voted to nominated him.

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Cmon Jim you know what I meant. It should be put to the members who they wish to nominate not the elite.

  2. Glasgow Working Class said,

    Corbyn has involved himself as he is entitled to do with onerous people. I will not support him. I will make a point of speaking against him when our branch meets. Labour is not about supporting Islamic fascists and giving credence to Sinn Fein IRA who slaughtered working class people for a narrow nationalist cause.

  3. John R said,

    Wait, why is it ok to support Corbyn despite his views on international matters?

    When Galloway opposed NATO air strikes last year, and was challenged in Parliament, he proposed instead that the Govt should “Arm the Kurds”. Even right wing Tory, Frederick Forsyth, said the same in the Torygraph.

    Now, I have no political sympathy for either of them but they are both completely correct on this point. Except, again, if the Kurds call for air strikes, they should be supported.

    I may be mistaken but Corbyn has never called for support for arming the Kurds. He’s not even supported John Rees’s bizarre call for Hamas, ANC and Venezuela to arm them. It’s all stupid “we need peace” crap while Isis run riot.

    I have to grit my teeth and say that even Galloway has a better view on the Kurd situation than Corbyn. And Galloway would have been more upfront about his views on Israel/Palestine, obnoxious though I find them.

    Corbyn bottled it as you indicate. The first time he was put under mild pressure on a difficult question, he had to resort to answering a question which hadn’t been answered.

    He doesn’t like it up’im.

  4. Steven Johnston said,

    “On domestic policy, Corbyn is excellent, clearly rejecting Harman’s position on welfare cuts, advocating higher taxation of the super-rich”

    Yet, it is not the conservatives that are asking for welfare cuts, its capitalism.
    As for higher taxes, that does not put more money into the economy, all it does it take money out of one pocket (the rich) and puts it in the pocket of the government. So the government can spend it on yes, welfare, but also on police, the armed forces, prisons, courts, nuclear weapons…is that what we want? But, be careful you don’t tax the rich too much and they simply leave.
    As for immigration, who can stop it? You might as well say North Korea and Cuba have successful anti-immigration policies as no one gets in.
    But, be careful of labour left-wingers, in the 1974-79 government, Michael Foot made a ruling that would cut the benefits of workers who refused to join a union in a closed shop. The argument being that they had made themselves unemployed! How’s that for a welfare cut.

    • Jim Denham said,

      I presume, Steven, that you’re referring to the so-called ‘Ferrybridge Six’ row of 1975. One can agree or disagree with Foot’s position on this when he was Secretary of State for Employment (denying unemployment benefit to men who’s been dismissed for refusing to join a union), but he didn’t “make a ruling”: as I understand it, he merely applied the existing benefit regulations regarding “voluntary unemployment.”

      • mark taha said,

        Don’t insult our intelligence-the people at the top can always make exceptions.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Steven ìn the good old days before Wilson’s Protective Employment Act you just got sacked for any reason. If you won your case at the Brew you got a few bob back. You were always bannned immediately from full unemployment benefit until your case was heard. It was called ‘Banned from the Brew’. (the bureau) The employer was not compelled to attend. I went through this charade around 1970 and won my case but the employer did not turn up and did not have to compensate. He did however blacklist me and I had to move on. And proving being blacklisted is almost impossible. All it takes is a phone call and you were fucked. I met an English bloke at a trade union seminar at Treesbank Ayrshire. He was blacklisted for fighting cases for guys who had the similar conditions to the Bends that worked in the Glasgow Clyde Tunnel. AND THE FUCKIN Tories want to fuck the Unions.

      • Political Tourist said,

        The term wasn’t “Brew”, it was Buroo.
        As in Brian Boru the ancient Irish warlord.

    • Dave Draycott said,

      North Korea has a successful immigration policy because no one wants to go there.

      • Steven Johnston said,

        Yep Dave…that was kinda my point.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      I recall that well Steven. That was as stupid as the Tory frustration of contract legislation. If you cannot tell us when you think you will be fit to resume work then sack youself.

  5. Democratic Revolution, Syrian Style said,

    You know things are bad when your position on an issue re: foreign policy is demonstrably worse than the hangman’s champ, George Galloway.

  6. damon said,

    Corbyn reminds me of that quote about the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone.

  7. Glasgow Working Class said,

    PT. It was pronounced the ‘ The Brew’. I stood in the queue on occasion in Parkheid!

  8. Jim Denham said,

    Michael Ezra has posted this on Facebook (I reproduce it here without his permission – hope he doesn’t mind)


    Labour Hustings!

    Last night I went to listen to all the candidates speak. Below are my views:

    Liz Kendall, the best on policy and the content of what she said was fine. Unfortunately she really couldn’t present. She did not come across as strong enough leadership material in the slightest.

    Jezza the Jizzer. The worst on policy, by far, but the best on presentation and clearly a conviction politician who was not afraid to express his meshugah views to a largely hostile audience.

    Andy Burnham: just came across as a “Yes” man to the Party and a careerist. When he started referring to “Hope” I wondered whether be saw himself as Britain’s Obama. I thought he lacked conviction and as your earlier link suggested, I would not be surprised if the “flip-flop” label is justified.

    Yvette Cooper. Reasonably ok but I don’t think it did her any favours playing the “I am a woman” card at the end of her summing up.

    Conclusion: if I had a vote, based on what I saw last night, it would be between Andy and Yvette. Yvette might win it for me but I thought it was a pretty bad bunch. The big disappointment for me was how poorly Liz presented: she might have great political views, but she isn’t prime ministerial material.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Well Jim it is not often an Attlee or Harold Wilson turns too. But we
      have time on our side!

  9. John R said,

    The Jewish Chronicle has a report on the hustings organised by them and Labour Friends of Israel. I was surprised to read that Jeremy Corbyn opposes the academic boycott of Israel. There is also a link to a recording of the event for those who want to see it all for themselves.

    Based on Michael Ezra’s review and my own feelings, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another leadership election before 2015.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Corbyn may have a problem with Israel defending herself. Maybe he wants Israel to lose.

  10. Steven Johnston said,

    Lets hope non of the candidates pander to any religious group. As that would set a dangerous precedent, I mean if you give in to one group then how can you refuse another?

  11. Road to Servitude said,

    Reblogged this on wallacerunnymede and commented:
    Interesting critique. Some parts I agree with more than others, but Corbyn’s apparent attitude towards Hamas deserves ethically serious discussion like this.

  12. Mike Killingworth said,

    There is a serious question, personalities aside, here. Is it still possible to construct a political tent wide enough to cover both Jews and Muslims? I very much hope it is, but I am far from sure.

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