There are two faces to Corbynism. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are doing everything they can at the moment to appear reasonable, not radical, but behind the scenes they are starting to stuff their offices with figures from the hard left. Look at their hiring of advisers such as Andrew Fisher and former Guardian columnist Seumus Milne. This week, two other names are being mooted as new advisers that again show where Corbyn and McDonnell really want to take the party.
The first is Karie Murphy, one of the central figures in the Falkirk scandal. As the FT’s Jim Pickard reports, the close ally of Len McCluskey is being lined up to be Corbyn’s political adviser — alongside Andrew Fisher — and is considered more of a ‘realist’ than others in his team. The Falkirk scandal was one of the low points of Ed Miliband’s leadership, so bringing in one of the key figures from this period into the heart of the Corbyn operation sits uneasily with Labour’s new slogan: ‘Straight Talking. Honest Politics’.
The other new adviser being touted is James Meadway, the chief economist at the New Economics Foundation and former Socialist Worker Party member. If the rumours are true that he is joining Team Corbyn to work on economic policy, Meadway will have some explaining to do (like Fisher) about things he said on Twitter account:
Decent sized crowd down at the Brixton #Thatcher death celebration. Sound system, much carousing.
— James Meadway (@meadwaj) April 8, 2013
— James Meadway (@meadwaj) May 8, 2015
Packed out at the #TowerHamlets meeting to defend democracy. 500 here, maybe, and furious about what has happened to Lutfur Rahman.
— James Meadway (@meadwaj) November 12, 2014
Whether Meadway or Murphy end up joining Team Corbyn or not, it says a lot about the mindset of the new Labour leadership that they are even considered plausible. Political operators tend to be aspiring frontline politicians or professional figures who have a lot experience in the shadows. But Team Corbyn appears intent on choosing people who are ideologically in tune with their ideas but lacking in professionalism or political experience (speaking on marches does not count).
It is a cleaver approach, having frontmen who try to appear reasonable and moderate, while the people in the shadows are pushing a hard-left agenda. But for moderates in Labour, it is beyond depressing to see the party being run in this way.
UPDATE: This tweet from James Meadway (now deleted) is probably the most damaging. Supporting a non-Labour candidate is an automatic expulsion from the party under NEC rules: