Coffee House

John McTernan: if Corbyn wins the Labour leadership, he should be deposed immediately

29 July 2015

4:01 PM

29 July 2015

4:01 PM

John McTernan is a Blairite who is not afraid to speak his mind. On this week’s View from 22 podcast, the former Labour special advisor discusses the state of Labour’s leadership contest with Isabel and me. He believes the right of the party is struggling as it failed to put forward a suitably experienced candidate ‘because David Miliband left the Commons in the last Parliament’:

‘If David had stayed and served in Ed’s shadow cabinet, David would have been the candidate wouldn’t he? There wouldn’t have really been a contest and I think the vagaries of people’s personal career choices has a big impact on where we are.’

McTernan describes the nomination of Jeremy Corbyn by Labour MPs as ‘self-indulgent’ and still doesn’t think he will win. But if Corbyn is victorious, McTernan says he should be removed immediately:

‘I can’t see any case for letting him have two minutes in office, let alone two years in office because I think the damage that will be done to the Labour party in that period makes it incredibly hard to recover … it just beggars belief that there isn’t something that, in the unlikely event Corbyn wins, there is something is done swiftly and quickly to restore the party to its sense.’

‘How the Labour party in the twenty first century, at a time when Putin is at his most aggressive, can consider electing a leader who would take us out of Nato I have no idea, genuinely no idea —somebody who cannot fund his promises; doesn’t even pretend to fund his promises. Why is that acceptable for the Labour party and why party members of all sorts think that is acceptable to the electorate I have no idea.’

But what if the party’s grassroots were unhappy at this? McTernan doesn’t think they matter:

‘Yeah but who cares about the grassroots? The leader is one who determines the saleability of the Labour party. Nobody is voting for Tumbleweed CLP. They are all voting for the leader, they are voting for a potential Prime Minister and a leader who can’t control the party, can’t control conference isn’t fit to run the party yet alone the country, but obviously if you get a strong leader, it doesn’t really matter what the grassroots say.

‘And the majority of party members do like being in power. They like in power at local levels, they like being in power in devolved administrations, they like being in power in central government.’

McTernan describes Corbyn’s popularity as a ‘strange psychological emotional spasm’, which he believes is grief-related because ‘so many people believed Labour were going to win this election’. As well as this, he says the party’s previous two leaders have to shoulder some of the blame for the current splits:

‘The terrible disservice that Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and other people in leadership positions did to the Labour party was that they trashed the reputation of a Labour government that lasted from 1997 – 2010. They not only trashed it by refusing to defend it, they disowned it.’

You can listen to the full discussion below:

Show comments
  • Wonderhorse

    John McTernan should keep his horrible mouth shut – Blair has gone, his so-called legacy is reduced to dust due the war in iraq. Jeremy Corbyn was elected with a huge mandate, bigger than Blair ever received. McTernan is sounding more like a Tory perhaps he should become an adviser to Cameron. He has spent the last few months trying to destroy Jeremy Corbyn, he has whined and sulked and used every nasty trick to undermine Jeremy – he obviously doesn’t like true socialism – he should shut-up!

  • DickieT

    I see numpty McTernan calls is “right” once again. how this abject failure has managed to stay in a job is beyond me

  • KWB

    There’s no courage in a man who does’t care what others think speaking his mind. ‘Socialism’ which harbours contempt for the people is generally called by another name. Don’t think I need to spell it out.

  • whistletalker

    The reason is Fear Labour Artist Taxi Driver speak

    Why Jeremy Corbyn? Artist Taxi Driver speak

  • tolpuddle1

    To depose Jeremy Corbyn would be impossible – who is there to depose him ?

    And any such attempt would be the end of the Labour Party.

    If McTernan dislikes Corbyn, he has people like himself to thank for Corbyn’s popularity.

  • tolpuddle1

    John McTernan wants a party without grassroots.

    A party restricted to the Westminster bubble, in other words.

  • Grimble77

    Its just embarrassing to watch. Seriously these guys have utterly lost touch with reality. Since the start of this election they have thrown all their toys away big time.

    The so called elite seem to have a collective mental age of about 6.

  • Peter Arnott

    Scottish Labour followed John McTernan’s advice on the referendum and Jim Murphy’s campaign for leader, and on the general election. They are dead. If they now follow his advice on this, UK labour are dead. Not damaged. Dead. In the whole UK . Forever. Dead. Not zombies. Dead. Like a parrot. DEAD

  • Esmee Phillips

    “I can’t see any case for letting him have two minutes in office, let
    alone two years in office because I think the damage that will be done
    to the Labour party in that period makes it incredibly hard to recover.”

    The damage done to Labour by McTernan and his ilk– the Scotch poundshop Alastair Campbell– is what is proving so hard to repair. In his own land it is nearly terminal.

    McT is a clown, but the clue to his continued visibility is probably that remark about Putin and NATO. I suspect he is on a CIA payroll as an agent of influence. George Robertson going to NATO was a sign of how right-wing ‘social democratic’ Jock politicians are valued by the Yanks.

    Cancelling Trident is a majority preference north of the border, and
    Corbyn as PM would do it. McTernan and his global-benevolent-hegemonic
    masters cannot have that. The military-industrial-security complex needs
    a big scary foreign threat to stay in business, and ISIL just isn’t big
    or plausible enough. Cue Putin.

    McT is small fry, whom the auditors at Arlington have not yet got round to re-evaluating in the light of his brilliant insights and vital assistance to Jim Murphy in saving Labour’s bacon at the general election.

  • Michael

    Speaking as an Australian, McTernan’s performance as communications consultant during the last Australian federal election, which Labour lost, suggests that The Spectator is degraded by allowing him a platform. The deficiency of moral and intellectual integrity which he fostered was not appreciated by the Australian public. He sure got his audience wrong there.

  • Adam Bromley

    I think McTernan’s idea that Labour electing Corbyn leader is an emotional response to the shock of defeat makes sense, nothing else does. The SNP surge in Scotland is a nationalist phenomenon not a socialist one; strip away the rhetoric and judge the SNP by their time in office, they are centre-left. The English electorate rejected a far left manifesto in 1983, they will do the same again in 2020. Of course the militants have an explanation: it was the Tory press, it was the SDP split, it was the Falklands war that won the 1983 – nothing to do with the longest suicide note in history. It was a fantasy then and it’s a fantasy now, there’s precious little evidence that people vote based on newspapers, whose influence is marginal. The SDP split was caused by the takeover by the far-left, it didn’t just happen. A Telegraph reader is already most likely a Tory voter and for all the right-leaning papers there is the BBC, a left-leaning organisation with more reach than any newspaper. This story only ends one way, a split in the Labour party and a catastrophic defeat at the election. There is no evidence, zero, that more than 20% of voters want a hard-left government, over 50% are right of centre, with the rest in the middle. Those are the political facts, Blair embraced these realities and won three elections. Politics is the exercise of power, it’s not about marches, demos or passionately believing something.

  • Jackie Ogden

    What an idiot. He is trying to trash the right wing of the party himself – we have our own Donald Trump! Or Corbyn’s campaign manager. Because anyone who is slightly on the fence after this would vote for Corbyn. He does appreciate that it’s one member; one vote. What he is suggesting would only take place in a totalitarian state. If a democratically leader were deposed, that’s the end of Labour. Blair has caused the schism in the party, and his acolytes.

  • Iain Moncrieff

    Democracy is great, providing you win. So the elected leader should be deposed. How many more closet Tories (Blairites, Thatcher-Lite etc) to come out of the closet?

  • Dominic Stockford

    Putin is no more threat than he has ever been. Does McTernan, or anyone senisble, really think that Putin wants a world war? Get a grip man. As for leaving NATO, pointless if we don’t leave the EU too.

  • smilingvulture

    The Labour Party must be at ease John McTernan is their spokesman,Newsnight ect

  • Lisa Danley

    Hello Every One out here, Are you seeking for a love spell to being back the one you love??

    I have decided that i am going to spend the whole day on the internet just to make sure that a lot of people are able to read my testimony about Dr.Sam who is a powerful and genuine spell caster, My name is Lisa Danley,I am from Stevenage,UK .I’m happily married to a lovely and caring husband ,with three kids. A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my husband .so terrible that he took the case to court for a divorce.he said that he never wanted to stay with me again,and that he didn’t love me anymore.So he packed out of the house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get him back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and he confirmed it that he has made his decision,and he never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my husband .So i explained every thing to him,so he told me that the only way i can get my husband back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for him too.So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow his advice. Then he gave me the email address of the spell caster whom he visited.{}. So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address he gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my husband back the next day.What an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my husband who didn’t call me for the past seven months,gave me a call to inform me that he was coming back.So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster. So, i will advice you out there who have any problem to please contact him through this email address: ……

  • Mitch Mitchell

    It is time this buffoon was thrown out of the Labour party.

  • Ewan Kane

    McTernan, the man behind Labour’s failed campaign in Scotland

  • Sean_68

    No mention of Blair’s disastrous wars as a factor in Labour decline.

    • WhiteVanMan

      the only election labour won after iraq ,was with Blair as leader in 2005, he can’t be blamed for the 2015 election when Ed Miliband stood on a platform denoucnign Iraq and Blair, plus the real vote fall was in 2001 before Iraq,

  • Richard Simmons

    I can’t understand why McTernan is being given such prominence. He writes in the Telegraph and is being quoted here.

    Let’s be clear. He is a 2nd rate Alistair Campbell.

    Adviser to Blair and Harman. Then his piece de resistance. Pilot of Julia Gillard’s Kamikaze ‘Communications’ Operation in Australia. He managed to make her unelectable.

    He wanted to stay in Oz. But couldn’t find anyone willing to give him a job. In the public words of one potential employer. ‘No One likes a Bullshitter’.
    -He was affectionately known as ‘McTurd’ by the time he left

    Since his ‘Tail between legs’ return to the UK someone somewhere has apparently decided to allow him to earn a crust as a commentator.

    He has shown his respect for democracy before by advocating the roughing up of MPs by party hacks such as himself.

    He of course has never been elected to anything and has an unbroken record of failure.

    Look: The Aussies kicked him out. As a British citizen we had no option but to let him back in. But let’s not take him seriously.

    Bullshitter he was. Bullshitter he remains. For God’s sake let him rot on benefits.

  • WordBird45

    Hold on….does this mean that if Corbyn wins John McTernan would never have anything to do with the Labour Party again?

    The plus points for Corbyn just keep stacking up.

  • WordBird45

    Come on now everyone, let’s not dismiss him out of hand.

    I think we can acknowledge that John McTernan may well be the most spectacular individual political failure never to have stood for election, whether on the left or the right. It’s an amazing feat that he can still pull himself out of bed and put himself forward as someone who knows anything whatsoever about winning elections. He’s to be commended for being recovered enough from his relentless stream of giant political misjudgements to come and share some of his last remaining wisdom on democracy with us.

    The thing that really can’t be explained, however, is why journalist after jounralist, paper after programme, keep going to him for his opinion in the first place. It’s like going to Eddie the Eagle to ask how man could reach Mars.

  • Suffolk boy

    Is this the same John McTernan who said that ordinary people could not be trusted with the new pension freedoms?
    If so, he’s a bit fascisty isnt he?

  • thebestwecando

    The absolute horror of and contempt for democracy that New(ish) Labour and the establishment in general have is perhaps the most salient lesson of this whole campaign. How appropriate that it should have been punctuated by Sewel and, to a lesser degree of prominence, the pictures of Windsor ‘playing’ as a child.

  • James Henry

    Anyone holding such undemocratic views should be expelled from any political party. The present ”Labour” party however has shown itself to be devoid of either shame or morals.

  • Fairly Educated Scot

    I really can’t see how anyone could have less credibility than the communication director of a Labour leader responsible for losing the party almost 4M votes in 8 years and who thought Jim Murphy would save Scottish Labour (lol) and ran his campaign where he lost his party 97.56% of their seats.

    • The_greyhound

      That’s because you’re very stupid, and support the crypto-fascist SNP.

      • Fairly Educated Scot

        You think he’s credible?
        Fascist how? Do they blame immigrants and disabled for our problems? No. Do they talk of increasing defence spending? No. Have they used a biased media for electoral advantage. No.
        The SNP has no history whatsoever of any of these three traits of fascism however I will note all three are central to Tory and UKIP party policy.

  • DavidL

    The abuse directed at McTernan misses the point: which is that if Labour MPs were too enervated to unseat Broon, when he was clearly heading for a calamitous Election defeat, or Ed, when he was consistently rated as not credible, and polling BELOW his party, then who on earth could believe that they would have the c***nes to remove a leader who had just been elected after a four-month campaign. If Corbyn wins, Corbyn stays. That’s what Labour needs to think about.

  • Jacobsadder

    Seems the Right, especially those within Labour are flapping at Corbyn’s unexpected popularity (unexpected to Labour MP’s but no surprise to the rest of us). But the truth is that Corbyn is the only candidate in the running who can return Labour back to it’s traditional social democratic values-base and away from the Conservative controlled neoliberal Tory-Lites who differ only in the colour of their ties. Thatcher described Nu Labour as her greatest achievement – and this reprehensible legacy continues today, no more so in the likes of Kendall. Labour needs to regain control of itself and Corbyn is the only candidate who stands a chance of achieving that – he’s not popular for nothing, he represents a real alternative and genuine opposition to the neoliberal hegemony. Labour need to take heed, if Corbyn doesn’t get elected, or gets deposed, Labour will replicate their recent Scottish ‘achievement,’ and McTernan should know a thing or two about that.

    • jeffersonian

      ‘Corbyn is the only candidate in the running who can return Labour back to it’s traditional social democratic values-base …’

      If you think hard-core Lefty, anti-NATO, pro unilateral disarmament, ‘let’s [start] by re-nationalisation of the rail network’, pro-continued mass immigration, let’s all hug a terrorist-Jeremy Corbyn is the one to return to Labour basics, pray tell what of the above is ‘traditional social democratic values?

      Old Labour would renew Trident (or nuclear equivalent), it would never obliterate the British working class by importing millions of cheap third world labour, it would not hug a terrorist and it wouldn’t seek to leave NATO

      Or are these not the social democratic values you were thinking of?

      • Jacobsadder

        Oh dear, you really have fallen for the right wing populist propaganda haven’t you? It’s painfully apparent that you’ve unthinkingly taken on board the scaremongering without bothering to look why Corbyn holds the positions he does. And also why he’s proving to be so popular.
        Head out of the sand time fella. Go and do a little research outside the right wing press, you might just learn something.

        • jeffersonian

          ‘without bothering to look why Corbyn holds the positions he does’

          Why should it interest anyone (except perhaps a psychiatrist) *why* someone with bonkers views came to hold them?

          I also noted that you didn’t address a single one of Corbyn’s positions. A little more substance and fewer ad hominems would improve the quality of your argumentation.

          • Jacobsadder

            You want me to educate you? And yet you can’t be bothered to educate yourself – the material’s out there lad.

            Oh, I notice you failed to mention that your OP was nothing more than ad hominems directed at Corbyn – which was precisely my point! Feckin’ priceless! And then you expect me to educate you? Tut tut! Toodle pip!

            • jeffersonian

              Tsk. You really are feeble.

              • Jacobsadder

                ffs, grow up.

    • Maureen Fisher

      You sound like you actually want Labour to be running the country. We know that is a disaster every time it happens.

      • Jacobsadder

        Of course, that’s nonsense. Attlee set in place the foundations for what has been arguably the most civilised system of government that the world has even seen. This was largely done in response to the horrors of the Second World War and the complete lack of civic infrastructure and social provision that preceded it. The only real disaster has been the pernicious onset of neoliberalism introduced by Thatcher in the 80’s, even adopted by Blairite nu-labour in the 90’s, and now pursued with renewed gusto by our current incumbents, who are currently busy destroying the last vestages of the post-war consensus for their own personal gain – this will only lead to total and utter disaster. Unfettered and unregulated capitalism has no real answers to the complex social and environment problems engendered by the more pressing problems of globalisation. We cannot consume ad infinitum in a finite world – this is the only driver capitalism has to offer.

        Currently, within the visible British political spectrum, only Corbyn has a realistic grasp of the complexities involved and the solutions we need to take – hence his growing popularity as more and more ordinary people are becoming undeceived. As the few get richer and the rest increasingly seen by them as expendable.

        I’m assuming you are an advocate of the right wing press? May I suggest that their narrative is designed primarily to ‘manufacture consent,’ and you are giving it freely. I think you might regret that one day, if not you then your children certainly will if capitalism remains unchecked.

        • Maureen Fisher

          No I am someone who has gone through the far left several decades ago and found them to be delusional.

          • Jacobsadder

            Who said anything about the far left? Though I understand what you say, all extremes are dangerous.

  • Ted Ryder

    Is this democracy? When those at the top think they have the right to ignore the electorate there is no democracy. They are all scared that they will lose their overly paid jobs if/when Corbyn wins. If the grassroots members are good enough for electing MPs then they should be good enough to elect the leader

  • Fraser Bailey

    I don’t see how you can depose him if he has been democratically elected according to the rules of the contest. McTiernan and those of his ilk will simply have to form another party, join the Lib Dems, or tough it out.

    • The_greyhound

      The Tories made a similar mistake in their wilderness years – they made IDS leader. IDS had great appeal to traditional tribal Tories, and absolutely no one else. The Tory Party (secret weapon : loyalty) did away with IDS in little more than two years.

  • D B Widnes UK

    How can the Blairites ever form a government in a democratic country like the UK again? If they were in power, and about to lose a General Election; would John McTernan announce that the public were unfit to get their votes right?
    His contempt for democracy is immoral on a North Korean scale!

    • The_greyhound

      If North Korea were all that undemocratic, corbyn would surely have visited it, been photographed with Kim Jong-un, and described him as a “friend”.

      • D B Widnes UK

        Thanks for that. Your comments neatly demonstrate the intellectual level that the anti Corbyn campaign has operated at. Your one man campaign to keep any intelligent discussion out of politics speaks volumes.

    • WhiteVanMan

      although Mcteran talks rubbish here, its not the same as what you’ve said about a general election

      • D B Widnes UK

        Thank you for your reply WhiteVanMan, but I wonder if you can give a little bit more detail about how you feel my analogy falls down; in terms of the Blairite wing of the Labour Party, and their apparent contempt for the democratic process?

        • WhiteVanMan

          Although Union afiliates pay a good chunk to the Labour Party,as do Fabian co-op members,
          Labour members pay £48 for the right to vote in t his election, supported okay £3′ it’s buying a vote that’s worth equal to those paying more, in a general election we all get one vote and per constituency it’s worth equal

          • D B Widnes UK

            OK, I guess I can see your point there; but as a full member, I suppose I would, wouldn’t I?! The latest polls suggest JC is even poised to get 50%, or really close to it amongst full members, even on first preference. That has to be a case of: the people have spoken, does t it?
            I personally think the process to engage a wider audience through the supporter scheme is an excellent idea, except for your (reasonable), ‘I paid more, my vote should count for more’ point. I also think the NEC would be pretty happy with it as well, if it were t for the nigh on completely unpredictable series of events that has led to ‘the wrong candidate’ being on the verge of a first round victory!

  • MickC

    But Corbyn does actually have a point about funding, doesn’t he?

    If money can be printed to save the banks, it can be printed to fund anything whatsoever. Yes, it is utter madness, but so was printing for the banks.

    The cry of “one rule for the rich, another for the poor” now carries considerable weight…and truth.

  • Christopher Horne

    Dear me, these socialists really don’t understand democracy do they?

  • SarahAB

    I’m planning to vote for everyone but Corbyn – but this is incredibly patronising from John McTernan.

    • Hugh Jeego

      Voting for everyone but Corbyn? How many votes do you get?

      • WhiteVanMan


  • Scradje

    The anti-McTernan venom on display in these comments coming from Corbynites will be unleashed on all Blairites if he wins. Could a new Gang of Four emerge?

    • Esmee Phillips

      No, it won’t. McTernan is a toxic joke. Not all Blairites are. Corbyn is offering them places in his shadow cabinet, not licking his chops at the idea of a witch hunt. The best reason to blackball McT is his utter ineptitude as a ‘political adviser’.

  • Drew Wood

    So basically, what these anti-corbyn types are saying is they don’t really support democratic elections? If someone gets elected by a majority vote, and then instantly deposed – isn’t that a dictatorship?

  • Stephen Bee

    WHEN Corbyn WINS the nomination…you and your blairite friends..are HISTORY..never to be forgotten

    • No Good Boyo

      The same applies to the Labour party, which is unfortunate, because any government which has little realistic chance of losing power inevitably becomes a poor one.

      I know. I live in Wales.

      But, here’s the rub: You may slag off Tony Blair, but he’s the only Labour leader to have won an election since 1975.

  • John Mceachran

    “They are all voting for the leader, they are voting for a potential Prime Minister and a leader who can’t control the party, can’t control conference”

    That is the warning sign of a right wing nutters about to kick off. Corbyn when he gets in should be looking for these folk to kick them out of the party.

    Right wing brings only greed, corruption, wars etc. They also do nothing about the rich and big business tax avoidance. This is the reason the UK is vulnerable to financial troubles. Frankly the right wing element should be seen and called out as traitors.

    If tax was fully paid and the bankers acted in greed through immoral and illegal actions we would have been ok. That is fact!

    This is what our media should be shouting about but won’t because vast amounts of the media are owned by this type of tax dodging rich owner’s.

    People need to wake up. Corbyn would be good for the nation. That’s a fact.

    • No Good Boyo

      Good God. Where to start?

      It’s so freaking delusional, a comprehensive critique would fill a book.

    • The_greyhound

      corbyn is useless. Thirty years in Parliament, and the only thing he has to show for it is a fat pension.

  • Innit Bruv

    McTernan the idiot who still talks about “preserving the Iraqi democracy”is showing New Labour’s true colours.
    Not very democratic.
    Should we be surprised?
    Not really. Remember what happened to Walter Wolfgang,
    a refugee from forties Germany in hiþz eighties

    • No Good Boyo

      I had forgotten. Thanks for the reminder. It was quite an illuminating incident, wasn’t it?

      • Innit Bruv

        Very !!!

  • Innit Bruv

    McTernan the idiot who still talks about “the democracy in Iraq”is showing New Labour’s true colours.
    Not very democratic.

  • Derek Shilson

    McTernan says that if Corbyn is voted in he will try to remove Democracy in order to get him out. Sounds like National Socialism to me.

  • Alasdair Riktam de Voil

    Dear John, fuck off and join the Tory party. Please just fuck off, all you parasites who have coopted the Labour party and have destroyed the left.

    • WhiteVanMan

      destroyed the left, worse results of labour ever 1983
      last 3 general elections
      9.6m 35.2%
      8.6m 29 %
      9.3m 30.4%

  • Sun

    Labour should be disposed of immediately.

  • mrsjosephinehydehartley

    Didn’t Mr.Blair disown the will of the people when he upped and left his job, without so much as a ” by your leave..” to the ones he was supposed to be serving? ( Did he say anything to HRH ? I can’t remember)

    These high fallutin executive working types probably can say what they will about so-called ” grass roots”..anything to avoid facing what is in fact at the other end, the head end, of that old infamous ” fat tail on the downside”.

    ie Reality. It bites and so people like this chap should be scared, very scared.

  • Auldreekie

    As others have pointed out, as a political operator McTernan is notable for his remarkable ability to be the losing campaign director in elections. Having him working for your cause is the kiss of death.

    So why, given this record of failure, lack of nous, and distance from public opinion, is he interviewed and invited to take part in political programmes? He’s hardly on the ball, or in a position to pose as a pundit. It’s presumably because of his entertainment value: lacking credibility, he has adopted the role of jester and sensationalist.

  • Alan Roe

    So much for democracy. Power mad authoritarian zealots.

  • Freddythreepwood

    I was going to comment, but looking at the stuff below it would be like intruding on private grief. So I think I will just leave them to it.

    • JabbaTheCat