Euan McColm: When Jeremy Corbyn goes, so must his loony-left lieutenants

It never rains but it pours for the Labour Party leader, who now has the support of less than one in five British voters. Picture: Darren Staples/Getty
It never rains but it pours for the Labour Party leader, who now has the support of less than one in five British voters. Picture: Darren Staples/Getty
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Even the blindly faithful are beginning to see the light.

Four years after Labour Party members made the decision to install Jeremy Corbyn as their leader, they can no longer deny the evidence of their catastrophic foolishness. Labour can now depend upon the votes of just 18 per cent of the electorate.

As the Conservative Party tears itself to shreds over the issue of Brexit, the official opposition is at its most unpopular since polling began.

Many of those who once endorsed the Corbyn project are now desperately trying to find the reverse gear.

Former cheerleaders now argue in sorrowful newspaper columns and in disingenuous social media posts that the Labour leader’s position on the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union (anyone for a fanciful “jobs first Brexit”? No?) must change. Meanwhile, once close allies in the Labour group in the House of Commons discuss how Corbyn might be replaced and by whom.

For those of us who enjoy the guilty pleasure of an appropriately delivered “I told you so”, these really are the best of times.

The Corbyn project was always doomed and not, as many of his supporters would like to think, because he faced a hostile media. It was doomed because the man at its head is a crank. And a thoroughly unpleasant one, at that.

Under Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour Party has become a safe space for anti-Semites; it is now the natural political home for conspiracy theorists, misogynists, and supporters of terrorism.

Yet some in the party think the project might yet succeed, if only a suitably hard left leader can be found.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell (“Corbyn is an idiot, McDonnell is dangerous”, as one senior and successful Labour parliamentarian told me back in 2015 when this whole mess began) was once the leader of the opposition’s closest ally. They were politically inseparable. Now, McDonnell is said to have been cut off by Corbyn and the cabal of Stalinist half-wits who continue to indulge fantasies of revolution that surrounds him.

McDonnell, say sources, is prepared to see his “comrade” replaced so long as he remains shadow chancellor and favoured acolytes such as shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey and justice spokesman Richard Burgon are protected.

That’s quite the list of demands. McDonnell is every bit as culpable as Corbyn for the parlous position in which the Labour Party finds itself; Long-Bailey and Burgon would both make excellent answers if the quiz show Pointless ever demanded of contestants that they name a stupid MP.

While Corbyn – a career-long Eurosceptic – has prevaricated on the issue of Brexit (or Lexit – that’s left-wing Brexit – as some of his supporters have tried to rebrand it), the Liberal Democrats have won increasing support for their absolute clarity on the issue. The Lib Dems have bounced back from the damage inflicted upon them for their 2010 coalition deal with the Conservative by asserting themselves, credibly, as the party for those who believe Brexit represents an act of national self-harm.

Squirming Corbynistas may have argued that Labour had no choice but to tailor its message to include those who voted, in 2016, to leave the EU, but this ignored the reality that Eurosceptics are already catered for by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and the Tory right wing.

Corbyn’s fence-sitting didn’t enable the Labour Party to reach out to Leavers and Remainers alike, it merely earned him the contempt of both.

There are many excellent reasons why Corbyn should be replaced as leader of the opposition. The issue of his handling of Brexit aside, these reasons existed long before he was put in charge of the Labour Party by fools who believed a nonsensical narrative of him being the champion of a “kinder politics”.

Corbyn’s impressively consistent record of associating with racists and anti-Semites, of giving succour to terrorists, and of promoting a hard-left ideology that should have died with the Soviet Union all screamed out his complete unsuitability for the job.

And this, surely, is why any attempt by Corbyn’s fellow travellers to continue their project is doomed. Merely getting rid of the leader will not change the culture of the modern Labour Party. If Corbyn is nudged out but McDonnell is allowed to remain, dictating terms, those who indulge this strategy will be rats repainting a sinking ship.

Corbyn and those who remain loyal to him have spent much of the past week sounding off about a newspaper article which reported the view of anonymous civil servants that he is not physically or intellectually equipped to become prime minister.

I’ve no doubt this was deeply distressing for members of the cult to read but that serious people hold these opinions should hardly surprise them.

Corbyn is frequently absent when he should be leading. As the Tory Party contorts and fractures, Corbyn should be front and centre, making the case for a trustworthy alternative. Instead, he’s nowhere to be seen.

And when the leader of the opposition does offer himself up for interview, we can be sure it won’t be long before he reminds us of his inadequacies. Short-tempered and condescending, Corbyn chips away at the myth of greatness – promoted by his supporters – every time he opens his mouth.

Throughout the Corbyn fiasco, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson, has tried to limit the damage. Watson, now openly contemptuous of his boss, has shown leadership on both Brexit and the anti-Semitism crisis. Wherever Corbyn has failed, Watson has done right.

For his troubles, Watson is a target of the Labour left who see his efforts to save his party as a direct challenge to their chosen one.

If Labour is to survive as a viable political force, Corbyn must be deposed, sooner rather than later, and any MP who has helped sustain him over the past four years should be exiled to the back-benches.

Many on the Labour left now realise Jeremy Corbyn is damaging their party. But until they realise that they, too, are part of the problem, Labour will remain unelectable.