Jeremy Corbyn is to stand for Labour leader. Those scoffing at the idea of the very rebellious backbencher entering the contest to lead a party he often disagrees with have rather missed the point. Corbyn doesn’t think he can win. He doesn’t even want to win (he is one of the few MPs who I’ve interviewed who I really believed when they said they really didn’t want to be promoted).
What Corbyn wants is to make a point that so far none of the candidates represent the faction of the party from which he hails: that is, the ones who identify strongly with the editorial line of the Morning Star and feel Andy Burnham is still a Blairite. If you are on Labour’s left, you must feel painfully lonely at present as the main candidates join a linguistic arms race over benefit cuts and so on. Though anyone seriously alarmed by Caroline Flint saying benefit claimants need a ‘kick up the backside’ should remember that politicians tend to use outlandish language to disguise their lack of ideas.
Even if Labour’s left is the last section of the party that its leader should listen to if it wants to win an election again, a representative in the leadership contest would be handy, if only so that there is a properly constructive debate about why Corbyn and co are wrong.
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