Malcolm CunningMalcolm Cunning, councillor for Linn Ward on Glasgow City Council, calls on Jeremy Corbyn to resign as Leader of the Labour Party.

 

Over the weekend I was contacted by colleagues asking whether I would be willing to state publicly that I no longer had any confidence in Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. To do so would go against everything I had ever believed in since the day I joined the Labour Party back in 1978, but anyone who follows me on Facebook or Twitter will know how I decided to react.

I clearly recall, back in March 1979, sitting at my desk in Aberdeen while revising for my finals listening to the radio as Michael Foot summed up for the government in the no confidence debate following the failed Scottish referendum. It was a stunning parliamentary performance by a politician of huge intellect and considerable charm. Only Robin Cook’s resignation speech over Iraq and Hilary Benn’s closing contribution in the Syria debate have come close, as parliamentary performances, from the Labour benches in subsequent years.

In October the following year, following Thatcher’s sweeping victory in May 1979, Jim Callaghan resigned as Labour leader and, it was clear to all, only Michael Foot could stop Denis Healey from becoming the next Labour leader. Healey, like Foot, had been forged in the cauldron of pre-war politics and had considerable intellectual gifts. He was, however, a straight talking bruiser who was blamed for selling out to the IMF and, despite his past membership of the Communist Party, was now firmly identified as the right wing candidate. Foot, by comparison had never lost the passion he first displayed in the 1930’s. He was anti EU; anti nuclear; pro trades union and firmly of a left, avowedly socialist, tradition within the party.

When I was approached by other party activists in Aberdeen to urge Michael to stand for the leadership I had no hesitation in doing so. In those distant days this involved writing a letter or, as I did, sending a telegram. Michael Foot stood and won, narrowly; we all know what happened next. Michael was a one of the greatest parliamentarians of the 20th century, he was admired and loved within Labour ranks and by MPs across the House; yet he failed, spectacularly, as a leader. We can only speculate how history might have been different if Healey had won out.

Wind on some 35 years and another Labour leadership contest under very different rules from those that held sway in 1980. I did not vote for Jeremy Corbyn but, given my enthusiasm for Foot in 1980, I entirely understood why so many ordinary members opted for a candidate who appeared to offer a return to clear socialist values. In the face of fairly lacklustre campaigns from the other candidates, the passion and enthusiasm of his supporters, if not the candidate himself, had an obvious attraction; even if it was not one which I could now buy into. Corbyn won by a massive margin and, as with the overwhelming majority of members, I was content to do my best to make it work. He was not my choice but he was the leader of my party and I would do damnest to support him.

Corbyn, to quote Hilary Benn, is a good and decent man. He himself recognised that he was an unlikely victor in charge of a PLP who, at best, viewed him with distrust. He went out of his way to appoint members to the Shadow Cabinet who shared few if any of his political priorities. He allowed Hilary Benn to steal the limelight in the Syria debate directly contradicting everything Jeremy himself believed. In almost every single policy area, Jeremy trimmed his sails and, instead of firmly sating his own beliefs, (and those of the members who had voted for him,) he prevaricated, hesitated or postponed to another day. He did so because he wanted to keep the party united; and for that he is to be congratulated. However, it meant that the Labour Party appeared confused and uncertain on every major issue. Sadly, Jeremy has not required the help of a donkey jacket to look inept. He has not provided anything resembling leadership because he is entirely incapable of doing so.

The result of the EU referendum has, rightly, brought matters to a head. Jeremy went on the stump arguing a position which nobody seriously believed he, personally, held to be true. He did his best but he sounded like a vegan recommending the benefits of a rump steak. Foot, to his credit, went into an election on a platform which reflected his genuine beliefs before being rejected overwhelmingly by the electorate. Corbyn has presented a meaningless fudge in which he, nor any other Labour member, has any confidence. His decency, his attempt to find a compromise which could gold the party together, has been his downfall. Had he been able to maintain the passion and vision of his leadership campaign into his actual leadership we might at least be facing glorious failure rather than potentially ignominious irrelevance.

With a heavy heart, I have now sent an email to the General Secretary of the Labour Party calling on Jeremy Corbyn to resign as Leader of the Labour Party. He has failed to provide leadership, passion or anything resembling vision. He has failed to deliver on the momentum of the thousands of members who voted for him and failed to win the trust of those who did not support him. He has all the hallmarks of the accidental leader caught in a role he never really expected to hold and for which he is entirely unsuited.

I wish him well. I wish even better for the Labour Party that I joined in 1978 which, given the rise of xenophobia and narrow nationalism, is the only hope of a rational alternative.

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10 thoughts on “A failure to deliver

  1. Oh you have got to be kidding. Jeremy Corbyns biggest mistake was in not sacking these people when he first took over as leader. He should have made a clean sweep of all Blairites in cabinet and put his own people who wouldn’t stab him in the back in place.
    They were going to do this sooner or later. They never accepted Corbyn as leader. The ground root party members understand this and will continue to support and back him.
    Its the Blairites who have made Labour unelectable. It wasn’t Corbyn who lost the last election is was Blairite Milliband and his happy band of Blairite cabinet members.
    We would still be in the EU if it wasn’t for the Blairites. That’s a fact.

  2. I have no dog in this fight (although I do wonder at the wisdom of those standing around in a circle shouting “fight, fight, fight”) but isn’t the obvious question who you think will replace Corbyn? He may have his faults, but given the overwhelming mandate he has from party members, what do the Blairites in the PLP, and disaffected anti-Corbyn apparatchiks in the party, actually think will happen in the event of a leadership contest?

    Surely it’s the Blairite rump in the party that should be considering its position? Why don’t they just do the honest thing and set up their own party to argue for their centrist platform from there? There’s obviously no saving Labour’s Scottish branch, but lancing the Blairite boil is the only thing that might save the Labour party in the rest of the UK.

  3. A Glasgow councillor talking about failure to deliver!

    This is irony, right?

  4. The country’s in the toilet, the economy’s sinking like a stone, the Tory Prime Minister has been forced to resign, Scotland & N Ireland are looking to break away, Labour can’t even get a hearing in Scotland, Wales, N Ireland or England outside of London.

    And what is the Blairites answer to all this, do they set out to try to re-engage with the communities they’ve lost, do they apologise for abandoning them & letting the markets decide their fate, offer them hope of a better future under a Labour government that’s learned the lessons of past mistakes, no they attack Jeremy Corbyn in the hope of a return to the type of politics that lost Scotland & alienated so many former supporters in England & Wales.

    Labour could & should be utterly destroying the Tories credibility for a generation but instead Labour MPs are all too busy trying to stab the party’s leader in the back to capitalise on the opportunity

  5. Jeremy Corbyn is the top man he is representing the labour party members and supporters in constituencies, the Blairite Parliamentary Labour Party are career élitists out of touch with those who they are supposed to represent and the internal battle inside the Labour Party UK must come to a head, Jeremy Corbyn with the backing of the membership and the trade unions will in my opinion win the war otherwise the Labour Party UK in England will suffer the same fate that the Scottish Labour Party had at the hands of the SNP, in other wards UKIP will wipe the Labour Party UK in England out.

  6. Do you think you could be a bit more patronising? I was in the Labour Party earlier than you but left because I couldn’t stand the soft soap Toryism of the Blair years. The change in the party that began, for me, with the campaigns of Neil Findlay and Katy Clark and exploded with Corbyn’s success has changed the Labour Party for the better and hopefully forever. I don’t want to see a return to the days when Labour were a pale pink version of the Tories and where the membership were nothing more than a stage army. There are changes that still need to be made to make sure membership control and participation are more than tokenistic but I look forward to helping bring about those changes. I don’t see anyone in the rag tag and bobtail bunch of connivers which makes up this revolt of the entitled who might help lead the Labour Party in the direction I would like so thanks, but no thanks, let’s persevere with Corbyn for now.

    1. Exactly! Will you be calling on Kezia Dugdale to resign as she has failed at pretty much everything she had done as Deputy Leader and Leader. We fully expect to lose most of our council seats but hey, it’s Kez. That’s okay..What utter hypocrisy! Yeah I have been in Labour a long time too. And Corbyn is the freshest thing for years. And he has performed way better than Dugdale. He achieved about the same as Sturgeon in terms of Remain votes from Labour votes / SNP Remain votes but hey , keep pretending it’s about his ability! We were ahead in the polls until the vindictive PLP decided to attack the membership.We are not Trots ot Loony Left, it’s just Labour has morphed into a grotesque centre right bunch of lobbyist fodder.
      Corbyn stays !

      1. “We were ahead in the polls…”

        No, we weren’t. During a period when the Tories were more publicly divided than they ever have been in their history, we couldn’t even match them in voting intention!

        polling intention

  7. It’s almost like some wierd invertion of the miners strike – the Bairites must ‘break’ the left at any cost

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