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Why UK Labour lost? Part 4: Ooooh Jeremy Corbyn

Written By: - Date published: 3:13 am, January 14th, 2020 - 12 comments
Categories: Brexit, International, Jeremy Corbyn, labour, political parties, politicans, Politics, uk politics - Tags: , , , , ,

When a party loses an election, the leader has to take responsibility. Many cite Jeremy Corbyn’s lack of popularity as a key reason for Labour’s loss. These calls have been made particularly by his opponents on the right of the UK Labour Party.

Few expected Corbyn to win the leadership election in 2015. From the start Corbyn was a polarising leader, and never very popular. Corbyn built up a core support base within the Labour Party membership, though always had fierce opponents within the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Jeremy, though polarising had strong supporters. Who can forget 2017 Glastonbury festival, where Corbyn was greeted by thousands of festival goers with the chant Oh Jeremy Corbyn” loud cheers after he recited Percy Shelley’s poem The Masque of Anarchy. After the 2017 election, where Labour’s support increased after the Manifesto was released, Corbyn’s personal popularity also rose significantly. But he remained polarising and continued to have many detractors. Corbyn’s support was and remains much stronger with young voters


Image result for jeremy corbyn glastonbury chant

Jeremy Corbyn addressing the Glastonbury Festival in 2017

To those who say Jeremy Corbyn could never have been Prime Minster I respectfully disagree. The 2017 result got him close. However, to get him across the line he and the party needed to keep building support around the manifesto. And they needed unity of purpose and not division within the party, particularly within the parliamentary party. In an earlier post I suggested that Boris removing the Party Whip of Tory MPs who voted against him over Brexit, showed strength and gave the public confidence that the Tories would be united. By contrast Labour showed signs of deep devisions. Corbyn as leader had two options 1) try to bring the detractors into the tent or 2) cast them out.

But I believe there were two other issues that ultimately undermined Corbyn’s leadership after 2017. One was Brexit and the other was Antisemitism. The earlier smears that Corbyn supported the IRA or terrorists resonated with some Conservative voters, but never really harmed him politically. Later when he was being seen as indecisive on Brexit or not strong enough on antisemitism, this alienated voters including some who earlier had supported or at least tolerated his leadership.

Once people have been turned off your leadership, they become open to other critiques or smears against you. These issues weren’t just about Corbyn, but as the leader he was the figure head and he took the hit for them. Further, on both Brexit and antisemitism he and those close to him could have handled these issues considerably better.

Previous posts in this series

Why UK Labour Lost? Part 1: Historical Context

Why UK Labour lost? Part 2: UK Labour’s strange loyalty to First Past the Post

Why UK Labour lost? Part 3: Its Brexit Innit

12 comments on “Why UK Labour lost? Part 4: Ooooh Jeremy Corbyn ”

  1. Wayne 1

    Corbyn putting the flowers on the Munich bombers played badly for him, and not just for traditional Conservative voters. It was seen to shift him out of the space of supporting all sorts of national liberation movements (which was generally tolerated) into directly supporting terrorists. It also gave real bite to the charge of antisemitism. Someone who would sooner put flowers on the graves of terrorists rather than visit Israel.

    It symbolised for many northern voters why they thought he wouldn't, as Prime Minister, defend Britain.

    • mikesh 1.1

      I think that putting flowers on the graves of the Munich bombers would have been seen as support for the Palestinian cause rather than support for terrorists – though many who hated Corbyn anyway may have seized upon this, claiming that this was a good reason for their dislike.

      • indiana 1.1.1

        Murdering people for a "cause" still makes you a terrorist…placing flowers on their graves simply means you are endorsing their behaviour. He was trying to argue that he did not specifically places any flowers on specific graves. But that event was for all buried there, no grave was marked as exclusive for the "cause". Quite simply, he should have not gone to that event.

      • joe90 1.1.2

        If a backbench Tory invited members of National Action to parliament a fortnight after Jo Cox was murdered and then down the track stood, in solidarity with her killer. Would you say the MP was expressing support for their neo-nazi cause, rather than support for murderous neo-nazis?

    • Molly 1.2

      "The wreath-laying took place during a commemorative ceremony for victims of the 1985 Israeli air strikes on the PLO headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia, which had been widely condemned at the time, including by the U.S. Government. " – Wikipedia

      It seems very unlikely that while attending this event, he decided to lay wreaths elsewhere, as initially suggested by the Daily Mail – and quite gleefully repeated by other media. Despite being denied and no evidence to that end being provided.

      "Corbyn putting the flowers on the Munich bombers played badly for him" – can you find a credible source where this is stated as a matter of fact – and not innuendo?

      • Gosman 1.2.1

        Can you please advise why Corbyn never met with members of the Israli right wing nor with members of Unionist paramilitary organisations if he was merely trying to achieve peace?

        • Incognito

          Can you please stop with this idiotic line of trolling questioning that is your signature MO?

        • Molly

          No. But I can guess you are bursting to tell me why, even though you also don't know.

      • gsays 1.2.2

        Spray and walk a Wayne?

  2. mpledger 2

    According to wikipedia "In 2017 Israel was the second-biggest buyer of UK arms". It would be a huge disadvantage to Israel for Labour to get into power. That's why it seem likely to me that Israel was stirring this issue up for it's own advantage.

    • Anne 2.1

      Whilst not following his leadership as avidly as some here, I concluded after each interview with Jeremy Corbyn that I heard… he was reasonable, moderate and not the polarising figure he was being touted as by his opponents and the British press.

      There was an unholy alliance against him and it included the detractors in his own party. The motivation seems to have been personal. For one reason or another none of them wanted to see him succeed because it wasn't in their respective interests to have a Corbyn Labour government.

      Any inference that they didn't think he was capable of being a good PM or that he was anti-semitic (which he is not) or that his politics are extreme left (which it is not) was bollocks.

      British politics is as dirty and unsavoury as anywhere else on this planet.

  3. Lou 3

    That Corbyn faced a deeply antipathetic right-wing press should not surprise anyone. However, what harmed Corbyn the most was the undermining by supposedly centre-left media, particularly the Guardian and the Independent. Compared to Johnson's blatant and horrifying racism, Labour's supposed anti-semitism was negligible. But this didn't stop said newspapers from constant unfounded harassment, thus showing that their true loyalties lie with status-quo neo-liberal capitalism. Without the support of their traditional supporters, the Labour Party were left deeply exposed in this election and didn't stand a chance. That those same papers are now twisting the knife into Corbyn and blaming him for the entire disaster, which should be laid squarely at their own door, is the height of hypocrisy, and an utter disgrace.

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