What Darwin teaches us about Corbyn’s leadership

Robert Hoskins says it’s time for Corbyn to step down and a new leader to emerge to deliver the McDonnell project in government.

In politics there are times when the fleetness of foot of Her Majesty’s Opposition is tested like no other. None more so than when it needs to adapt quickly to a dramatic change in the political environment. The election of Boris Johnson as PM is a perfect example of a dramatic change in the political environment.

Within days of coming to office, PM Johnson has not only packed his cabinet with hard right Brexiteers and appointed Dominic Cummings, who masterminded the vote leave campaign, as his chief strategist, he has put his party on a General Election footing and more importantly, according to early polling, is well on the way to hijacking the Brexit Party vote and making the Tories THE party of Brexit.   Not bad going for a Prime Minister who many think will be an unmitigated disaster.

How has the leader of the opposition, who many think is an unmitigated disaster, responded to the consolidation of the Brexit vote under Johnson’s premiership?  Does he act decisively by ditching the disastrous Brexit policy of constructive ambiguity once and for all? Does he outflank the Lib Dems and the Greens even, by dispensing with the need for a referendum completely by announcing that Labour will Revoke Article 50 on day 1 of a Labour Government? No of course he doesn’t, he does precisely erm … nothing – nothing at all, apart from reiterating his continuing commitment to fight an election on a soft Brexit ticket.

The total paralysis, the utter inertia, the complete inability to change tack or make any strategic response whatsoever to Brexit, the most important issue of the day, has been the hallmark of Jeremy’s leadership. One could also argue that this lack of leadership not only applies to Brexit but also to his response to Syria, to the Novichok poisonings and of course to the anti-Semitism crisis.

Jeremy and his entourage of hard left acolytes remind me of Darwin’s great maxim that  ”it is not the most intellectual or the strongest of the species that survives; but the species that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself”. Corbyn and his advisors have failed repeatedly to adapt their strategy to a changing political environment and, more importantly, have refused to even acknowledge that the political environment has actually changed at all.

It is after all 2019 and not the 1980s. For every crisis involving Russia, be it Syria or the Novichok incident, the same old narrative that is frozen in Cold War ideology is triggered. Russia is always right and the US, the UK and the west are always wrong.  On Syria, Corbyn has repeatedly refused to condemn the Russian backed Assad regime or the Russian bombing of civilians or its use of chemical weapons. His solution to this and every middle east problem is identical – no military intervention of any kind, ever, only a peaceful UN solution will suffice. On the attempted murder of double agent Sergei Skripal  and his daughter by the nerve agent Novichok, Corbyn refused to blame the Kremlin for  the incident, suggesting that someone else other than the Russian state could have planted it instead. He couldn’t even bring himself to believe the scientific evidence provided by UK scientists that the nerve agent was made in Russia. He suggested that it would be a good idea to send a sample to Moscow to see what the Russians thought.

With the amount of ideological baggage that Jeremy brings to the table, his leadership was always going to come down to a choice between wanting power or wanting ideological purity, especially with regards to foreign policy issues which have always been close to his heart. If he really wanted power at the expense of ideological purity one of the most effective ways of adapting to a new political environment such as the election of a radical left wing labour leader would have been to prevent political enemies from making political capital out of any past misdemeanours by apologising for them at the beginning of one’s leadership.

An apology can have such a dramatic effect in shutting down a damaging narrative, enabling a line to be drawn underneath previous rhetorical excesses. Check out his old pal, John McDonnell, for example who within a week of becoming shadow Chancellor not only apologised on Question Time but apologised ”from the bottom of my heart” for his many inflammatory pro IRA and anti British Army statements made during the troubles which were far more incendiary than anything Jeremy has ever said.  The result? The issue has never been used against him again. Compare and contrast with Corbyn, who sees Israel as the major obstacle to implementing a foreign policy built around recognising the legitimacy of Palestine as a state in its own right. Can you imagine the difference a Corbyn apology at the beginning of his leadership could have made with regards to all his many past associations with known anti-Semites? Apologising unreservedly would have given him the authority to empower party structures to ruthlessly boot out anti Jewish racists from the start of his leadership by adopting and implementing IHRA guidelines immediately.  But again fossilised ideological thinking combined with the unwillingness to strategically adapt to a worsening political situation has seen the steady drip of anti-Semitism toxify the legitimacy of the leader and the Labour Party.  

So we are now in August 2019. Labour’s polling has flatlined in the low 20s, way behind the Tories. Corbyn’s approval ratings trail well behind Boris Johnson’s and are the lowest recorded of any labour leader ever. And the smart money is now on a General Election being called before October 31st or soon after it.

For Labour to win a working majority it has to do 3 things and do them pretty damn quickly. Firstly it has to remove Jeremy and his entourage lock stock and barrel. In hindsight Jeremy should have bowed out the day after depriving the Tories of a majority and delivering the largest share of the vote since Clement Attlee. If he had done so, his rightful place in Labour history would have been sealed as a leader who recalibrated the party and against all odds nearly pulled off a stunning victory.

Secondly, this abdication has to be completed with the unopposed election of an agreed candidate who all wings of the party endorse.

Thirdly, the next leader must be an unequivocal Remainer and must give firm assurances to leave John McDonnell as the Shadow Chancellor and implement his radical manifesto (and it goes without saying promise not to install Jeremy as Foreign Secretary – obviously!). I would have thought that the Blairite camp and many MPs in the Love Socialism hate Brexit group and Tribune group would bight your hand off for a deal which included the immediate standing down of Jeremy and the complete removal of all his appointed staff, in return for the unopposed election of a new leader who commits to deliver the McDonnell project.

With the Tories shaping up for a snap election,  I wonder if discreet soundings with these discrete PLP groups have already taken place before the summer recess?  There is only one MP who could achieve all 3 objectives and it is not Tom Watson.

The only person who has the stature and gravitas within the left to convince Jeremy to stand down is John McDonnell. But would he really stab his old friend in the front? If it came to a choice for the 67 year old Shadow Chancellor to tell Jeremy and his entourage that their time is up or risk missing out on the once in a lifetime chance of radically transforming the UK economy, I think he would choose the former.

McDonnell must see his friend now as a major obstacle blocking the way to a majority labour government. He has been clearly frustrated at Corbyn’s intransigence on all the issues that I have highlighted. If this scenario ever materialised McDonnell would also have a major say as to who his successor should be. I would be happy with Keir Starmer, but I endorse Len McCluskey’s view that the next leader of the Labour Party should be Emily Thornberry who voted for Jeremy first time round and is respected throughout the PLP and wider labour movement. Emily, like McDonnell, has repeatedly gone out on a limb and stated that Labour should back remain in the next General Election.

The McDonnell of old reminds me of the 60s Chelsea footballer Ron ”Chopper” Harris who earned his moniker due to his fearsome reputation for playing the man and not the ball, but was only sent off once during a lengthy and distinguished career. In the last couple of years McDonnell has obviously taken the calculated decision to drop the ad hominem attacks that he has been notorious for as the tantalising prospect of power looms ever closer. He now exudes effortless charm on camera.  He now uses  the velvet glove to reassure the City that they have nothing to fear from a labour Government. His ability to reach out to appoint non hard left MPs such as Liz Kendall supporter Jonathan Reynolds and Andy Burnham supporter Peter Dowd to his Shadow Treasury Team demonstrates strategical nous and a deft political touch. It is also a shrewd move which will have given McDonnell’s transformative plans for the economy a much needed veneer of legitimacy and will have reassured the PLP that the McDonnell project is economically viable and wont bankrupt the country.

In the space of three short years the ”Chopper” McDonnell of old has managed to completely reinvent himself from tribal rottweiler to collegiate team player. Alas his old pal has not managed such a Darwinian evolution and as a result his leadership is now facing imminent extinction. It remains to be seen if his old pal still has the ruthlessness to administer the extinction event and pave the way for a radical transformative majority Labour government which will redistribute power and wealth for the many not the few.

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27 thoughts on “What Darwin teaches us about Corbyn’s leadership

  1. I cant help but laugh. Jeremy Corbyn could be the next UK PM and it could happen this year. That is a real possibilty.
    The funny part is, that the thought of that scenario playing out terrifies Robert Hoskins. The scenario I am talking about and that Robert is well aware of is; Brexit goes badly wrong, Johnson calls a GE or is forced into it, Tory vote is split in two by Brexit Party, Labour has largest number of seats.
    Robert I pressume is a member of the Labour Party. His party and its leader is in a strong position to win a GE and yet Robert wants his leader to resign. Funny that.

    1. Brexit has already gone badly wrong. If there is a GE I, and many many other Labour folk, want to be able to go to the country with a serious, rational, viable offer of fixing things, not a platitudinous campaign from a lifelong Eurosceptic who would have delivering Brexit as line one in the manifesto. How hard is that to understand, really?

  2. You might not like Jeremy Corbyn, you and many other Labour members clearly dont. But he is the elected leader of your party. He was elected leader in 2015, his leadership was challenged the following year and he won again by an incresed majority. And, and this is the important bit Duncan, ears pricked, a GE is imminent.
    That last fact means that you are either, let me put this diplomatically, unrealistic with your expectations, as in, it would be riculous to attempt to ditch JC at this point in time, or, Robert Hoskins, yourself, amongst the others that see themselves as the ‘keepers of the soul’ are, in criticisng Corbyn now, at such a crucial moment in our political history trying to undermine his chances of winning a GE election for The British Labour Party. You would, in other words rather see a Labour defeat at a GE than JC as PM.
    That is worse than disloyalty, that is and there is no comparable diplomatic language I can use, a treacherous act.

    1. Oh get over yourself. I don’t want Corbyn to be PM. He would be a catastrophe. But I also think the VAST majority of the public hold him in the same regard as me, and as his personal ratings show in poll after poll he is a drag on Labour’s prospects of winning a GE. The idea that because a GE might be imminent people like me should be quiet is frankly offensive. This is the moment we must redouble our efforts if we want a Labour government.

      1. Gordon you say you don’t want Corbyn to be PM and if there’s a general election and he’s the leader of the Labour Party then it follows that you don’t want the Labour Party to win the election. If you could just answer this question if there is a general election and Corbyn is the leader of the Labour Party going into the general election do you want the Labour Party with Corbyn as leader winning the election? If the answer is yes then you are voting for Corbyn to become PM. What’s your preference a Labour government with Corbyn as PM or a Tory government?

  3. There is no other way to describe this. We are watching the slow disintigration, perhaps even death of the Labour Party. Labour has veered from left to right, then back again all my life. labour has a Leader popular in the party, but detested by most Labour MPs, an impossible situation.
    Why would Corbyn resign? He has been elected by huge majorities—twice. Labour appears stuck with him at least until after Brexit, or after the coming election (October?) . Timing is all, but If Boris gets it right, then the UK will be out of the EU, a Boris government elected, and an absolute disaster facing industrial Britain.
    There will be a tonne of blame, and years for it to percolate…..the Tories certainly…..but Labours “sitting on the fence” policy won’t be forgotten.
    Corbyn IS the Labour leader. He IS Labours albatross, but he reflects a substantial part of the Party.
    Corbin is Ying to Blairs Yang. Two populist hucksters who sold snake oil to their ain folk.

  4. “I don’t want Corbyn to be PM”. Your words Duncan.
    But that is only half an answer to my question. Admit where you stand. Own what you believe.
    Answer the question Duncan, and the same question goes to Robert Hoskins, (Robert, you must spend ages composing these verbose articles, so come on, dont hide now). Face up. Be honest and say it. We, all of us that read Labourhame know you dont like JC. But the crux of the matter is: you would, rather a Labour defeat at a GE than see Jeremy Corbyn as PM. That is where you are. Is it not?

  5. I voted for Jeremy all 3 times but the infighting has done us in at the EU election I could not get people to even vote .And no Leadership
    The public have made their mind up on Corbyn in my area he is unelectable .
    McDonnel said he would not block an Indy 2 request A position I support what is wrong with agreeing to a request but campaigning against it .Today mayhem allegations we have been chucked under a bus .
    I cant believe they did not get this right .
    We have no where to go now Nicola was in the Gaurdian saying she did not Fancy Corbyn but would back a Labour Gov .
    So has a deal been done and that’s us in last nights lecture just finding out .9 per cent in the Euros now this .
    That weekend poll dreadful for Labour .
    I will campaign for Labour I will vote for Labour .
    Tonights Scottish news bulletins dreadful Ian Murray will be on the nine .
    Lucky if any Labour voters left tomorrow .
    Ch 4 news last night Long Bailey if election called Labour will have to decide in a meeting what Brexit policy will be . Cathy Newman said sounds like you are back on that fence .

    1. David,
      Your embarrassed and angry I can tell. Maybe I can help?
      Resign your membership. Leave the Labour Party. All of a sudden instead of cringing every time you watch the news you will be doubled up. Yesterday we had McDonnell and Ian Murray. Unscripted genius.

      1. This from someone who lectures Labour members about “treachery” is just too much. You are clearly just a troll if you can pretend to be concerned about the democratic legitimacy of Corbyn one day and then tell someone to leave the party and laugh from the sidelines the next. What a sham you are.

        1. Yes that is exactly what I have done. What is your problem with that Duncan?
          You should leave the Labour Party. That would be the right thing to do if you are in so much disagreement with Corbyn. But you wont.. You and others have decided to stay, to undermine the leadership from within.. Dress it up any way you want and I know you will. You will say to co-conspirators ‘we are doing this for the good of the party’. That argument might hold some logic but not when the Labour Party is on the brink of a GE with the real possobility of winning. So my accusation of treachery is I believe a valid one. .
          And yes I was making fun with David yesterday because I know he would see the funny side of this farce. The Branch Office. .

          1. Corbyn was in direct, public disagreement with every leader he served under for forty years. Should he have left the party? In any event, your opinion is just that, and you have expressed it now, so gies peace.

  6. And yes folks we got CH4 news and BBC national news Nicola having a field day.

  7. Sorry Richard I will stay for all its faults l have always known labour and my union are on my side .

    1. David, I know you will.
      But, I am serious. Think about it. I was a member of the SNP for nearly 40 years but resigned about 2015/16. The issue that did it for me was the ‘Presumed Consent’ (organ donation) Bill Labour brought it to the Scottish parliament. The SNP voted it down. They supported the purpose of the bill but could not bring themselves to vote for a Labour motion. Christ can you believe that. That was three maybe four years ago and still no further forward on an issue that could change the life of so many Scots. It is a disgrace.
      Any way the point is, now, instead of having to defend hypocrisy I can see it for what it is.
      But I know Im wasting my time here.

      1. Richard thank you for your comment
        Politics is littered with daft things like that I want it but not if the other lot bring it forward .
        No one wins .Its why I think the NHS should be taken out of political control at least in Scotland its to important to be used as a political Football .

  8. Todays Times Financial markets would derail Labours financial plans and leave us in a bad way.

  9. Ch 4 news chancellor visits a power station says does not expect a recession .
    Then a power cut coincidence I am sure

  10. Duncan can you please excuse my typo in a previous message l said Gordon instead of Duncan can you scroll up the page and if you would be so kind to answer it it would be much appreciated. Many thanks.

  11. Celtic oot the Champions League goodbye 15 million
    Hello Europa League and 2 million
    Good job they got that 25million haha

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