Can Corbyn really lead the left to power? | Letters

Jeremy Corbyn remains a liability for Labour, according to Ian Pollard, while Jan Kamieniecki worries about the motives of the radical left. Also views on Labour and antisemitism from John Wallace and John Holroyd

Owen Jones (The hard right must be fought from the left not the centre, 19 July) says that a resurgent left, represented by Jeremy Corbyn could halt the rise of rightwing extremism. He may well be correct about a resurgent left, but I fear this role could not be fulfilled by Labour under Jeremy Corbyn.

Through the gym I attend I am part of a social group of about 20 men, most but not all of whom are from a manual work background. Only two of us voted remain, the rest having strong Brexit views, and some quite xenophobic. However I was surprised to find that virtually all support policies which are compatible with parts of Labour’s programme, including an industrial strategy, a national investment bank, nationalisation of the railways and increased taxation to support the health service and social care. Basically they are distressed by the perceived problems and weakness of our country and looking for solutions: I feel they could be co-opted by either left or right, depending on circumstances and leadership.

However, all of them despise and dislike Jeremy Corbyn, and say they would never vote for him, seeing him paradoxically as part of the liberal London establishment, not somebody like them, with whom they can identify. To them he is opaque, and they fear he would betray their and the country’s interests in pursuit of arcane and self-indulgent principles. But with a change of leadership, maintaining similar policies, who knows?
Ian Pollard
Newcastle upon Tyne

• Sadly, the evidence contradicts Owen Jones’s claim that it is the radical left that is the most effective bulwark against Trump and his ilk. The last few years have seen Bernie Sanders belatedly and half-heartedly endorsing Hillary Clinton, even when the consequences of a Trump victory for so many of the issues that progressives hold dear were evident, Mélenchon failing to support Macron against le Pen in similar circumstances, and, closer to home, Corbyn de facto facilitating a hard Brexit. It is hard to avoid the suspicion that at least some on the radical left actually welcome the implementation of far-right policies, presumably hoping that the anger that this will generate will then mobilise support for an equally populist left alternative.
Jan Kamieniecki
London• Owen Jones’s interesting analysis of the last US presidential election overlooks that while Hillary Clinton lost in the electoral college she received 3m more votes than Trump. Comparisons between British and American elections and what can be learned from them need to take into account the difference in the electoral system, including the systematic attempts by Republicans to rig the electoral rolls.
Jeremy Beecham
Labour, House of Lords• The antisemitism issue is outside my experience but the fact that the Labour party is not accepting an internationally agreed definition is actually stupid and a distraction from what it should be doing in parliament, which is being an opposition. The position on Brexit is still unclear. Kier Starmer is trying to clarify that, but with, it seems, little support and is undermined by MPs who vote with the government. We need a very clear soft Brexit (ideally no Brexit) statement and MPs who vote against should be disciplined. That’s where we need to look at reselection.

This Tory government in hock to Rees-Mogg is pushing us over a cliff and the only people who will benefit are him and his rich hedge-fund friends. For the rest of us, it will be a disaster and a reduction in jobs and our standard of living. What do we have to do to get a real and powerful opposition voice to stop this nightmare?
John Wallace
Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire

• I find myself terribly dismayed at the recent claims of antisemitism and racism aimed at Jeremy Corbyn. I suppose I’m not the only one to question the timing of these allegations either.

They were first aired just prior to the council elections, where a large swing in London would have had major issues for the Tories. When they occurred the other day, just before a possible motion in the House of Commons that could have ultimately led to a no-confidence vote and possible general election, I started to think that the timing was premeditated. The real question for me, though, is why are people trying to keep the Tories in government?
John Holroyd
Thornhill, Dumfries

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