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Was Jeremy Corbyn a master batsman at the crease or an impatient, irritable old geezer?

In an even-handed review of Andrew Neil’s interview with Jeremy Corbyn, Jim Pickard said that Mr Corbyn’s appearance was praised by some of his most loyal supporters: Aaron Bastani, from the leftwing Novara Media, said: “This is like a master batsman at the crease”. 

A valued correspondent had earlier sent a message about the interview and said that Jeremy Corbyn came across as ‘an impatient irritable old geezer’.

I have never seen a Neil interview and knew little about him so I read around before seeing the interview. I learnt that he had been:

  • chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students,
  • employed by the Conservative Party,
  • worked for Rupert Murdoch as editor of the Sunday Times for 10 years,
  • chair of the Dubai based publishing company ITP Media Group since 2006,.
  • has strongly supported all military actions,
  • compared Tony Blair to Winston Churchill
  • and rejects the scientific consensus on climate change,

The snapshot on the right was taken during the first few moments of the interview, showing a far from cordial or polite Andrew Neil.

After focussing on the usual well-worn accusations Andrew Neil was visibly rattled when Corbyn started to speak about the funders of ISIS (our Gulf allies) who created the dangers now facing many – and quickly cut him short.

My verdict: A few of Jeremy Corbyn’s answers could have been better worded but, despite Andrew Neil’s irritability and aggression, the Labour leader endured the frequent bullying interruptions of his answers with great patience and dignified composure.





‘Land for the Many’, a report commissioned by the Labour Party

Land for the Many’, a report commissioned by the Labour Party, was written by a group of academics, economists and land experts, lead authors including George Monbiot, the environmentalist, and Guy Shrubsole, from Friends of the Earth who has campaigned against the lack of transparency in Britain’s land ownership.

It was good to read a measured appraisal in the Financial Times by Jim Pickard, formerly a severe critic of Jeremy Corbyn and his allies. Of late several articles in that paper have been taking a more objective stance – in contrast to the Murdoch Times which usually carries a range of articles belittling Corbyn and his supporters.

 A number of polices highlighted by Pickard:

  • “Juries” made up of local people would sit in judgment over UK planning decisions under proposals floated by the Labour party on Monday.
  • Home ownership would be extended to more people.
  • All information about land ownership would be published including the identifies of beneficial owners;
  • A community right to buy would be introduced, based on the Scottish model,
  • Compulsory sale orders would allow councils to force the auction sale of land left vacant or derelict for a long period.
  • Companies which own land in the UK through offshore structures would face an Offshore Company Property Tax under plans first set out in the 2017 Labour manifesto.
  • The Land Compensation Act would be amended to allow councils to buy land at prices closer to its current use value rather than its potential future residential value.
  • The planning system should be extended to cover major farming and forestry decisions and widen access to farming to more people.
  • The Scottish principle of a “right to roam” across all uncultivated land and water should be adopted, with the exception of gardens.

The authors argue that the concentration of ownership in the hands of a relatively small number of landowners has worsened various social problems such as economic inequality, the housing crisis and environmental degradation and write:

“Just as we believe it is important for criminal juries to be socially representative, the way we use our land should have input from all parts of society, juries for plan-making would be comprised of local people selected at random. They would participate in designing local and neighbourhood plans at the earliest possible stage.”

Labour said it would consider the report’s recommendations as part of its wider policy development ahead of the next general election.






Momentum: building a social movement

Is wannabe king-breaker Jim Pickard flagging? Many FT readers challenge him: 

‘He won a substantial victory with an enormous margin over all the other candidates. Get over it’ 

Pickard’s main weapon, a lavish use of adjectives, colours the account of a veteran leftwing activist founder of controversial new pro-Corbyn group called Momentum.

Jon Lansman, this alarming leftwinger, a researcher for Labour MP Michael Meacher, is described by Pickard only as a former aide to Tony Benn.

momentum 2header

Was Pickard afraid of giving its hopeful message?

‘A quarter of a million people made Jeremy Corbyn Labour’s Leader. And now Labour’s conference has given its resounding backing to Jeremy and his Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, to turn Labour into an anti-austerity party of hope and bold alternatives.

’We have begun to change the Labour Party but we still have to show how we can change the country. Throughout the campaign, Jeremy spoke about building a social movement to work for a more democratic, equal and decent society. Now is the time to make this a reality!

  • Organise in every town, city and village to create a mass movement for real progressive change.
  • Make Labour a more democratic party, with the policies and collective will to implement them in government.
  • Bring together individuals and groups in our communities and workplaces to campaign and organise on the issues that matter to us.

Momentum will be our grassroots network to continue the work we have begun.

clive lewis mpMomentum is open to leftwingers outside the Labour party. Its backers have likened it to existing Labour groups such as the Fabian Society, Compass and Blairite Progress. As Mr Lansman notes, Progress have significant support in the PLP but not on the ground.

Founder-member Clive Lewis (right), an MP loyal to the leader elected with 60% of the vote, hopes that people will welcome Momentum with open arms: “Labour is a broad church.” See more from him on the video page.


Comments on Pickard’s FT articleMore new people have joined the Labour Party in the few weeks since Corbyn’s election than exist in the entire Tory Party’: lawrenceab 9 hours ago @Good European 

Over a quarter of a million fruitcakes. Not a bad sampling base for an opinion poll. Note also that more new people have joined the Labour Party in the few weeks since Corbyn’s election than exist in the entire Tory Party. Thousands are joining every day. Quite a statistic, that. 

‘It is damn good to see thousands of cheerful vocal young people getting involved in political issues’: lawrenceab, 9 hours ago @Xenon Well said.

The extent of MSM attacks on Corbyn has been quite extraordinary – and revealing. When a Prime Minister of the UK stands up and calls the Leader of still our largest opposition party (which has been around 115 years and given Britain 5 PMs) a “threat to national security”, a “terrorist sympathizer”, a “Britain-hating ideologue”  it is clear the Establishment is rattled. We are hardly at Syriza levels in this staid electorate of ours, but the neo-liberal dispensation at the service of corporate and esp. financial capital is under serious challenge. I see some real energy out there and, well-guided or misguided, it is damn good to see thousands of cheerful vocal young people getting involved in political issues.

The function of a political party is to reflect the wishes of its members’: anyone but Bibi, 11 hours ago

Unfortunately, the career politicians who infest modern political parties have redefined the purpose of the party to ” a machine for winning elections”. To do this, they lie, cheat and abandon all scruple. Hurrah for Corbyn and his ilk. He may lose the next election, but at least he represents his members. The selfserving current MPs should be sent to oblivion and replaced by those who represent the members.

’The membership profile of the Labour party has changed over the last few years and the current crop of MPs has not’: An auld Scots engineer, 16 hours ago

There is clearly a massive gap between MPs, where Corbyn struggled to get enough votes to get on the ballot, and the party members who gave him a majority.  If the members of the party don’t like the views of their MPs it is very difficult to see why they should nominate them at future elections.  There is nothing sinister about this; for whatever reason the membership profile of the Labour party has changed over the last few years and the current crop of MPs has not.  Sooner or later they have to come back into line with each other. 

Finally: ‘He won a substantial victory with an enormous margin over all the other candidates. Get over it’. Tankerville,16 hours ago, @AndrewV