First published on LabourList
Yesterday the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected to his post. He has been in power for a year now. He was intact, in power all summer. And today he stood in the pulpit and pulled back from the speech he needed to give. Instead he made a speech that called for a lot but concluded nothing.
His calls for unity fall on deaf ears as they are demands for followership rather than assertions of leadership. Those who backed his rival were hoping for even just one of the following: a clear signal that it is Tories that are to be de-selected at the ballot box not Labour MPs in dusty halls and smoke-filled rooms; a promise to back a parliamentary party elected shadow cabinet; an action plan to end the abuse within the party, especially the vile sexism experiences by women MPs and national executive members; a clear embrace of those who joined under previous leaders or from traditions others than his – those around Progress, Labour First and the newly reformed Tribune Group; a pledge that Momentum would be for Labour members only – we are the biggest party in western Europe after all; an apology for failing to defend Ruth Smeeth, one of his own MPs, against antisemitism at an event on tackling antisemitism and a clear pledge that at the NEC meeting he is due to attend he would keep his pledge to back the Jewish Labour Movement’s rule change.
But nothing came. Not even one. He had all the power of the first mover and failed to make any progress.
Following this, in his post result leadership rounds Corbyn reassured the watching public that the (relatively few) Labour MPs they voted for will be considered for deselection. That is not the actions of someone who wants unity.
Even when he called on “Labour members to join us in a national campaign for inclusive education system for all” he actually laid down an internal dividing line. The “us” and “them” heavily infers that if you do not turn up next Saturday it must be because you secretly support grammar schools, or the Tory government’s plans or both. The “red Tory” allegation will follow on social media soon after.
This is not good enough. And it all smacks of someone that still has not realised he is in power and in charge. It might be an anathema to the hard left but they need to get used to it.
Corbyn seems to be favour of others uniting behind him but he providing nothing to unite behind. He thinks it is his internal critics and the mainstream media that are being unfair. In fact these are the actions of a failed first mover who still does not know how to lead. Or unite.