The general election result confirms Jeremy Corbyn as a symptom but not a solution to the crisis of social democracy in the Labour party. This has been apparent since his election as leader when he first turned down the offers of electoral alliance with the Scottish and Welsh nationalists and Greens, leaving Labour a unionist party in Scotland. His subsequent tergiversations over Brexit then sought to “unite the country” with a stance of Wilsonian neutrality only masking his persistent Bennism.
And, unlike the Greens and Extinction Rebellions activists, and contrary to the hopes of his enthusiastic supporters, neither Corbyn nor John McDonnell clearly explained why a profit-dedicated system is incompatible with human survival. Instead, they tried to advance a reforming socialism at a time when the class basis for mass action has collapsed with the disintegration of traditional manual working-class culture and organisation. In Scotland a new demographic may have come together in a progressive nationalism, but in England it follows Boris Johnson’s nostalgic escapism.
Now a new non-social-democratic opposition will have to be built to stop the deconstruction of the Attlee settlement that Johnson and Michael Gove intend.
• Now that Labour has lost two general elections under the current leadership and economic direction, it is time to recognise that the Corbyn-McDonnell project will never win government. All leadership and deputy positions must now be recontested, as should the entire national executive committee when possible.
It was deeply disappointing that, with a clean slate and total control, the Labour left could show no more imagination and creativity than to revive their old 1970s tax-and-spend model and accompanying culture of class war, intolerance of opposing views and sometimes outright intimidation. Labour needs to realise – particularly in a post-Brexit landscape – that the UK will never wear this.
We have now indulged this direction to the point of serious reputational damage. It is time for it to be put to rest. The right and centre of the party should be actively encouraged to contribute to the debate on its future direction – free of the intimidation that has characterised recent years. Britain is watching.
• As a 67-year-old lifelong Labour voter, I have tried hard to understand the appeal of Jeremy Corbyn to columnists such as Owen Jones and younger voters generally, but, in despair, sleepless, listening to the election results roll in, I believe my instincts were right.
The invasion of Iraq was a massive misjudgment, in my opinion, but the euphoria that greeted Tony Blair’s election in 1997 was palpable after 18 years of the Tories and cannot be written out of history. Corbyn has disenfranchised the moderate, centre-left of the party and sold the country down the line just as much as David Cameron did in calling the EU referendum in the first place.
In 2016 I really thought common sense must prevail, but the polarisation of politics into hard left and hard right has been a disaster. The Labour party is now destined for the wilderness and the Tories will ride roughshod over our precious public services and all that makes this country good. In addition, I will be embarrassed not to be able to queue in the EU line going through passport control on frequent visits to my daughter and her Dutch husband. Friday the 13th – yes, it certainly is!
• Adding to the other miseries of the last few years has been the sheer agony at times of watching much of the press do their damnedest to destroy a good man.
Jeremy Corbyn could credibly be described as having “no enemies” back in 2015, when he gamely stood as a reluctant candidate and retrieved Labour’s fallen flag. Since then, he has led the charge against austerity, inspired millions of young people and delivered two of the best manifestos the party ever had. Yet for daring to stand against the establishment, and with the oppressed, wherever they may be, this compassionate and gentle human being has been relentlessly and remorselessly traduced.
Throughout all this, and despite the most distressing personal vilification, I have never once seen Corbyn resort to abuse of any kind. He has shown grace under pressure, the definition of courage, and for that, regardless of the outcome, he deserves respect – and gratitude.
• The Guardian writers who joined with glee in the character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn must take their share of responsibility for the scale of Labour’s defeat. A good man has been brought low and we are all worse off as a result. For a 77-year-old contemplating spending the rest of his life under the heel of a Tory government, the future is indeed bleak.
• It is amusing and appalling to see Labour politicians who have been stabbing Jeremy Corbyn in the back for years, loudly and publicly declaring that he is unfit to lead the country, now blaming him for all the party’s electoral woes. Have they not the slightest awareness of the damage they have done?
Prof Trevor Curnow
• 1945: charismatic incumbent with impressive track record beaten by uncharismatic decent man with far-reaching programme of social reform. Result: NHS.
2019: decent but uncharismatic man with far-reaching programme of social reform beaten by charismatic incumbent with no discernible track record. Result?
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