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The dilemma facing Labour MPs at the next election

1 August 2018

5:04 PM

1 August 2018

5:04 PM

John McDonnell’s response to the latest episode in Labour’s anti-Semitism scandal is another reminder of how he grasps the political danger of this to the Corbyn project so much better than Corbyn himself does. The shadow Chancellor appears to get, in a way that Corbyn doesn’t, just how much this issue could damage Labour.

One of the striking things about politics right now is that the Corbynite economic agenda has become relatively uncontroversial within the Labour party. At the start of Corbyn’s leadership, the party committing itself to a universal basic income would have caused a major row. But today’s announcement has passed off without controversy.

Rather, what is causing problems is Jeremy Corbyn’s personal worldview. Labour’s refusal to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s definition isn’t about its agenda for government, but Corbyn’s own personal, anti-Western worldview—which holds that Israel, as a Western state, must be responsible for the ills of the Middle East.

You can see the same pattern in Corbyn’s response to the Salisbury poisoning. The reluctance to blame Russia isn’t about Labour’s domestic policy prospectus, but Corbyn’s own personal worldview.

If Labour was led by someone who embraces Corbynite economics but didn’t have Corbyn’s personal baggage, moral blind-spots and warped, anti-Western worldview they would, I suspect, be able to hold the party together quite easily. But instead, it is led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn’s character is going to be one of the big issues in British politics over the next few years. At the last election, Labour MPs could say they were campaigning to save their own seats, not to make Corbyn Prime Minister. But Labour will start the next election within touching distance of power, which will make this line untenable. These MPs will have to decide whether they are prepared to work to put Jeremy Corbyn, and his anti-Western worldview, in power.

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