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by Peter Franklin
Tuesday, 17
December 2019

Don’t cancel the Corbynites

The hard Left luminaries tell us more about Labour than the moderates
by Peter Franklin
Jeremy Corbyn and Ash Sarkar (R)

Right now politics on the Left is delicately poised between a post-mortem and a blood feud. I can understand why so many people, especially Labour moderates — are directing so much anger towards the Corbynites (or whatever they’re calling themselves now).

But there’s a slightly worrying edge to the blame game. It concerns the youthful stars of the hard Left firmament — luminaries such as Owen Jones, Ash Sarkar and Aaron Bastani. There’s nothing wrong with criticising what these individuals have said over the last few years, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have had the opportunity to say it.

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Stirring the pot, Guido Fawkes tweeted this on Monday:

“In the post-mortems the effect of the platforming of far-left types just because they were extremely active on Twitter on current affairs shows should be reflected on. It normalised people who would in the past have only been only selling Trotskyite papers outside train stations.”
- Guido Fawkes

That’s Guido being Guido, of course — but then came a response from Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman:

Important point this. I remember when the editor of BBC Question Time was choosing to have the editor of the Canary on the show ahead of Helen Lewis and Stephen Bush. I asked him why. I’m still waiting for a reply. Presume he wanted extreme polarisation over independent thinking.
- Jason Cowley

I can feel his pain. Bush and Lewis are fine journalists, it must have been galling to see their place taken by hard Left activists. However, this reflects a much more important displacement: that of an entire generation of soft Left politicians — Yvette Cooper, Hilary Benn, Dan Jarvis (remember him?) etc, etc — by Jezza and friends.

Even if you don’t rate Jones, Sarkar etc as journalists, you can’t deny that they’re more representative of what the Labour Party has become, as opposed to what Jason Cowley (and many others) would like it to be. They’re also more representative of the activists who will choose the next Labour leader.

In selecting their talking heads, the broadcasters need to reflect a broad spread of opinion — Left, Right and centre. But within that envelope of balance and pluralism, they also need to present the real electoral choice facing the nation.

The choice last week was not between Dominic Grieve and Chuka Umunna, but between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. The broadcasters had to find guests capable of making the case for both.

In respect to the latter, they succeeded. The country got to see what Corbynism is all about.


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