BY PAUL T HORGAN
You read it here first.
This is not an exclusive based on any declaration, but on a rational examination of the facts.
If Corbyn did, he would probably be re-elected. Corbyn has a massive personal following. But he will not stand. The first, but not most important reason, is that Corbyn is an old man. By next year, he will be 75 years old. In other walks of life outside hereditary monarchy his age would be a good reason to step down. However it does seem a tradition amongst prominent socialists to cling on to senior positions until death intervenes if they are not purged beforehand. Certainly the various gerontocracies of Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe bear witness to this tradition, and Corbyn is nothing if not a Soviet-era fanboy.
But the main reason is that Corbyn’s political career has been entirely based around leveraging his membership of the Labour party to the benefit of the hard left and its various causes, providing mainstream political access to extremist organisations, hostile foreign powers, and terrorists.
Even before he became an MP, Corbyn was trying to organise Labour Party membership for Tariq Ali, the poster-boy of the Vietnam War protests outside the US Embassy in the late 1960s. Corbyn is an entryist politician. Standing as an independent would go against his political philosophy and methodology of several decades.
Corbyn knows nothing other than Labour Party membership. While he associates with the various ideological sects that are regarded as unacceptable even for Labour’s open-ended left wing, he is well aware that these are tiny organisations with comparatively few activists compared to Labour’s political machinery. Corbyn has no experience of life outside the Labour Party however much he distanced himself from its mainstream cohort. In fact his own disastrous tenure as Labour Leader, in which he imported numerous extremists to run his political office, demonstrated how dysfunctional any independent campaign would be, as it would be run by the same kind of freaks and oddballs.
Corbyn will also not be founding his own hard left political party, despite numerous calls for him to do so and stand candidates around the country. The left-wing press has been filled with appeals for a new socialist party to be created, ignoring the inconvenient truth that yet another new socialist party regularly pops into existence as a consequence of a tiny ideological dispute in a larger left-wing grouping causing a split. These extremist parties never attract more than a few hundred votes in any constituency at election-time. The exception to this is the Socialist Workers Party-backed Respect, and this was due to the circumstances of British military involvement in the Middle East as well as having a ‘celebrity’ candidate in the form of Labour expellee George Galloway. This was event-driven rather than the result of a profound and permanent ideological shift, and disappeared as quickly as it emerged, especially after Galloway minimised Julian Assange’s sex assault allegations as poor manners and little more.
Any new party founded by Corbyn would be based around a cult of personality, and this is insufficient to win seats outside of Islington North. It is questionable whether it would be able to divide the Labour vote anywhere outside of Islington to let a third-party candidate win as Tony Benn’s splitting of Labour in the 1980s helped enable two successive Conservative landslides. Corbyn’s hypothetical new party would also be staffed by people to whom ideology would be more important than actual competence, garnering headlines about a new ‘loony left’ when not earning ridicule by presiding over avoidable public relations fiascos even more disastrous than Labour’s EdStone publicity stunt.
Corbyn’s only other reason for standing would be to maximise electoral damage to Labour, in effect being a spoiler candidate of an organisation dedicated to sabotaging Labour’s chances locally and nationally. If Corbyn announced he would be standing as an independent, every extreme left-wing activist capable of paying a coach fare would descend upon Islington to support his campaign against Labour, assuming Labour did not run a paper candidate as a form of damage limitation.
The hard left has a long tradition of political violence, and this culture was much in evidence at the Batley and Spen by-election, where Galloway stood as a candidate. In the smartphone age these images of violence against Labour activists and its candidate in Islington North (journalist-cum-carpetbagger wannabe MP Paul Mason is reported as considering running there) would be uploaded to social media platforms to be viewed by wider voting public nationwide.
It was the nightly images on the early evening news of picket-line mob violence at Grunwick in 1977 that contributed to Labour’s defeat in the 1979 General Election. Videos of Corbyn activists assaulting workers from other parties or images of politically-motivated vandalism could not help but tarnish left-wing politics, including Labour’s version. It would also divert attention away from policies to events, and force Labour to have to waste media effort to challenge Corbyn’s party which could have otherwise been used to take on the Conservative Party. Public disgust at socialism could become a political force and be expressed at the ballot box. Labour and Corbyn would be competing to play the victim card to try to attract public sympathy, but both would fail. The result would be to drive voters outside of Islington away from voting for any socialist party.
Another consequence of Corbyn standing would be that any Labour Party member who supported him would automatically be expelled from the party. Fearful of their jobs, No MP from the extremist Socialist Campaign Group, however sympathetic to Corbyn they may be, would support him, with the possible exception of Diane Abbott who would also have to run as an independent if her current suspension for explicit anti-Semitism is not lifted by election-time. The social media activity of Labour Party members would be scrutinised for any support for Corbyn from the day he announced he was standing and this would be used to initiate a purge of members just at the time when Labour should have been in campaign mode.
The Guido Fawkes website took pleasure a few years ago in publicising the anti-Semitic activity of Labour members, and for a while there was a cycle of the site posting details of the latest transgressor mid-morning and Labour having them out by the early afternoon. It is not inconceivable that this would resume, this time for post-announcement pro-Corbyn statements posted online.
So the only outcome of Corbyn standing would be to damage the Labour Party’s electoral prospects, and little more. Corbyn standing would not be, to use extremists’ new popular term for overthrowing the existing order, transformative. He is arguably the vainest MP in the Commons, which is quite an achievement considering the other bloated egos on show in Westminster.
However, Corbyn’s immense vanity has regularly had to confront reality, certainly when he was forced when leader to suspend close political allies for racism, and the reality is that any attempt to stand as an independent would be a form of vanity politics and little more than an act of sabotage against the party he used to lead. It is this reality that will probably deter him from taking this step, unless he actually believes his own propaganda.
At present Corbyn is playing the delaying game over his intentions, keeping people guessing ‘will he, won’t he’, but this is a purely narcissistic exercise in prolonging media focus on him before his inevitable return to the militant obscurity he enjoyed prior to 2015. Just as conservatives (big- and small-c) celebrated Corbyn winning the Labour leadership as the political catastrophe it turned out to be, only conservatives would celebrate Corbyn running for MP again. Any local campaign would be a disaster for the left, dividing the Labour Party nationally and also providing yet more exposure to the truly disgusting nature of socialism in practice.
Unless Corbyn is a complete idiot or irredeemably delusional he is aware of this, and will not take this step of going it alone and will return to the shadows, exit stage left.
Paul T Horgan worked in the IT Sector. He lives in Berkshire.