The ‘Labour Together’ review of the 2019 general election campaign manages – over 154 pages – to list all sorts of reasons that are supposed to explain why Labour’s vote was slashed from 40% in 2017 to 32,1% in 2019: No doubt, it is true that there was the confusion over the party’s Brexit position, a disorganised party centre, a muddled electoral programme etc.
But the report manages to spectacularly miss the key reason. The 15 Labour grandees (including Lucy Powell who took part in the 2016 chicken coup) appointed to run the review focus on platitudes like “Jeremy Corbyn was deeply unpopular” – but the authors seem to chiefly blame Corbyn’s character for that, rather than make any attempt to get to the bottom of what happened in the last five years.
We are happy to help: It was the witch-hunt, stupid (to paraphrase the Clinton adviser James Carville).
The campaign to get rid of Corbyn started as soon as it looked like he would win the Labour leadership election in 2015. Millions were inspired and over 350,000 socialists and left-wingers joined, making Labour the biggest social democratic party in Europe. This posed a real problem for the ruling class – Tony Blair had worked hard to transform the party into a safe ‘second eleven’ that could be trusted to run capitalism. But most attempts to undermine and sabotage Corbyn were like water off a duck’s back. The more silly the accusations, the more inspired and empowered his supporters felt. The result of the 2017 election is an indication of the level of this support.
However, all that changed when Corbyn was accused of harbouring antisemites in the Labour Party. Instead of calling out the lie that the Labour Party was overrun by antisemites, the Corbyn leadership sought to appease right-wing saboteurs, pro-Zionist groups and the self-appointed leadership of “the Jewish community” who set out to obstruct the new members and the move towards socialist ideas. The Corbyn leadership behaved as though they believed this lie. The ‘leaked report’ shows that in the process they displayed an inability to recognise real antisemitism, while eagerly trying to get rid of prominent activists like Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson, none of whom can be accused of even a trace of antisemitism.