Corbyn’s calls for unity are rank hypocrisy. Don’t be surprised if they go unanswered

by Sam Dale

“Unity is our watchword,” says Jeremy Corbyn on his campaign website as he sets out his plan to heal the party after a bruising leadership contest.

On the site he has a “unity statement” and calls on members to sign the pledge that aims to bring the party back together after months of in-fighting.

“The leadership election should be conducted with one thought in mind: our objective is to be a united party focused on winning the general election and campaigning across the country, day in day out,” he writes.

He has also penned an article for the New Statesman claiming the party must unite after the contest is over and how he’ll do it if he’s leader.

By way of example, he insists the main reason the party lost in 1983 was because it was divided.

“The Labour left was fighting a passionate but often inward-looking campaign for party democracy and several figures on the right of the party spent much of that election denouncing the manifesto,” he writes. “It’s no surprise we lost.”

It is astonishing to read these words coming from the pen of Jeremy Corbyn. And astonishing he can do it with a straight face.

If only we were more united then there is nothing we can’t achieve, he seems to argue.

This is hypocrisy.

No Labour MP has been more disloyal to party leaderships in the last 30 years than Jeremy Corbyn. It is ridiculous for him to now ask the party to unite behind him.

As is now well-known, this is a man who has voted 537 times against the party whip since 1997.

He has been more than happy to stand on the Labour ticket to help get elected in his Islington constituency but treats voting with the party in the Commons as an optional extra.

This is not just immense disloyalty but partly cheating the people of Islington who elected a Labour MP standing on the party’s manifesto.

If he wants to vote however he pleases then he is free to stand as an independent. He can not have the support of a party machine behind him and the luxury of simply ignoring the manifesto.

There are lot’s of examples, but here’s just one.

In May 2005 Corbyn stood as a Labour candidate. On 21 June, Corbyn and John McDonnell were the only two Labour MPs to vote with the Conservatives against the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill. A key plank of the manifesto they both stood on a month earlier.

As we know, he voted against the party whip on the Welfare Bill last month during the leadership election.

That allowed reams of newspaper columns to be written about Labour disunity over welfare. Voting with the leadership and most of his Labour colleagues was the unifying option, which he now claims should be the “one thought in mind”.

Outside the Commons he has been a constant critic, marched against Labour policies and cheered the election of Respect’s George Galloway in Bradford.

It is a bare-faced cheek to appeal for unity when you have a record of constant, unrelenting opposition to the party leadership.

The only thing Corbyn has been loyal to in the last 30 years is himself and his own political ideals, certainly not the Labour party.

We can not always get exactly what we want. Belonging to a party means serving an institution bigger than yourself. It means compromise and sacrifice.

Corbyn has shown no desire to do either for the bigger cause. He has primarily served himself and now demands others serve him.

If he wins then don’t be surprised if his calls go unanswered.

Sam Dale is a financial and political journalist

Tags: , , , ,

19 Responses to “Corbyn’s calls for unity are rank hypocrisy. Don’t be surprised if they go unanswered”

  1. Robert says:

    A ridiculous article, which seems to be arguing for democratic centralism. We would have an elected dictatorship if MPs never rebelled against their parties and voters in Islington could consider Corbyn’s voting record before voting.

  2. john P Reid says:

    so Corbyn could win with 51% of the vote of which, he will have had less than half of the actual party members voting for him due to winning with Affilaites or £3 supporters

    , so when he tells the party what way to vote in the chamber and there’s back bench rebellions he can say ah but I got more than half the votes on second preferences, so those MPS are voting against what the party wishes to be our polices ,because I won,
    but it was O.K for me to vote against the whip 1,000 in 32 years,

    he needs to have it pointed out that, he hasn’t got the support of the party behind him, and maybe those who don’t back him, feel they’re voting against he whip on principal

    then they’ll be the deselections in safe seats all 100 safe seats that’ll be left by 2020,

    but he’ll claim its democratic even though it clearly isn’t, and when we get massacred it wasn’t the manifesto its we’re divided,
    but its him forcing people to follow the whip through far of deselecting, and not accepting the £3 supporters are the ones likely to push him in the lead ,to have caused it

  3. John says:

    Of the leadership candidates who has said they will not serve in the shadow cabinet if one of their rivals is elected? not JC. How many MPs have already said they will not serve in a JC Shadow cabinet? I don’t think it is JC who is threatening disunity.

    This is a genuine question. Of the 537 times JC is said to have voted against the whip how many were when the Labour party formed the Government and how many were when the opposition were in Government?

  4. John. Reid says:

    John, they were all when labour was in power 1997-2010
    U its isn’t agreeing to serve in a shadow cabinet, because you have to vote with the whip then,do you really think Corbyn would vote with the whip if the others said abstain on a Tory piece of legislation,that they didn’t entirely disagree with,it’s alright saying a Opposition should vote against the government all the time as they’re the opposition, but if Corbyn wins in 2020 we might not be her majesties opposition but the third party.

  5. John says:

    JR. I was hoping for a sensible reply to my genuine question. If as you say he only voted against between 1997 – 2010, then clearly he is a reformed character as he hasn’t voted against since (according to you).

    If there is anyone who can answer my query I would also be grateful (if it’s possible) for a breakdown by the type of whip imposed i.e. how many 3 line, 2 line & 1 lines did he vote against.

  6. Madasafish says:

    Between 1997 and 2010, during the most recent Labour Government, Corbyn was the most rebellious of all Labour MPs, regularly defying three-line whips. In the 2005–2010 Parliament alone he defied the whip 238 times, approximately 25% of all votes.[8]

    See also

    (the last link has vote by vote detail).

    It took 3 minutes to find that.Google is your friend.

  7. John P Reid says:

    John, he’s voted against the whip or abstained before 97 and since 2010 the times quoted were the 97-2010 ones

  8. Tafia says:

    If you think obeying the whip is more honourable than following the wishes of your constituents and your conscience then you are a very very shallow and despicable man.

    Whipping is as a disgraceful practice relied on by out of touch governments.

    I never thought I would live to say this but the sooner a more representative form government comes into being the better. Government is there to serve the people – not it’s party.

  9. John P Reid says:

    Tafia, not sure how you define this but surely,this means that if the rig ht of the party vote against the whip if they disagree with Cirbyn, then it’ll undermine him straight away.

  10. Madasafish says:


    “Whipping is as a disgraceful practice relied on by out of touch governments.”

    Whipping was in existence in 1742 :”on 18 November 1742 Heneage Finch remarked in a letter to Lord Malton that ‘the Whigs for once in their lives have whipped in better than the Tories’.”

    Si I think I can treat your remark as a joke as it’s certainly not factual:-)

  11. The rules are fairly straightforward. Any MP can disobey the party whip. BUT there are consequences. Disobey too often and there won’t be any offers of government jobs.

    Jeremy Corbyn’s certainly done that, and he’s never complained about having no job offers. He’s also campaigned for the return of a Labour Government at every election. Whatever his private thoughts he’s never publicly stated than any Labour leader or candidate is “unelectable”.

    That word is going to come back everyone who’s used it against JC. Come the next election the Tories will ask if they still think that. If so, how can you possibly ask anyone to vote Labour when you’ve described your leader in such terms will be their next question.

    So if JC is elected those who have crossed the line this way will either have to withdraw their remarks unequivocally or find a new party. I can’t see any other alternative.

  12. Tafia says:

    And where Madasafish do I say it’s a modern phenonama? That’s the point – it’s an anachronism.

    John, MPs should vote in line the the wishes of their constituents – not their party and not their government. (even if they personally disagree)

  13. Madasafish says:


    It’s always been done by good, bad, weak or other Governments and Opposition. So your claim “Whipping is as a disgraceful practice relied on by out of touch governments.” is self evidently false.

    As for MPs voting for the wishes of their constituents.. bring back hanging flogging and stop all immigration will be what many want.. The Labour Party as you know it would not exist. Welfare payments would be curtailed .. These are ALL popular measures.

  14. John says:


    Thank you, I had already seen those links and am also aware of the health warnings they carry.

    E.G On the PublicWhip site (which is where all the figures originate) an MP is counted as voting against if the majority of their party vote opposite to them, whether or not it is a whipped vote. The PublicWhip site in fact complain that because the parties will not disclose when they are whipping their MPs or the strength of the whip it is difficult to provide accurate figures.

    So the figure of 537 is the number of times JC has voted differently to the majority of Labour MPs it is not the total number of times he has voted against the whip.

    One final figure to counter the rather selective statistic from Wikipedia; of the 3,476 votes JC took part in he only voted differently to the majority of his labour colleagues on 6.5% of occasions.

  15. Tafia says:

    Madasfish “Whipping is as a disgraceful practice relied on by out of touch governments.” is self evidently false.

    Really. A popular Bill doesn’t require whipping. So it’s evodently true.

    And I’ll go one further – Not only should whipping be banned but MPs should vote in private and their individual votes should not be revealed for 6 months.

  16. madasafish says:

    So the figure of 537 is the number of times JC has voted differently to the majority of Labour MPs it is not the total number of times he has voted against the whip….. of the 3,476 votes JC took part in he only voted differently to the majority of his labour colleagues on 6.5% of occasions.”

    Err 537/3,476 is not 6.5%

  17. John P Reid says:

    John, there’s at least 2 times BlaIr needed Tory votes toget legisLation through a Education act in 2006′ so in that case Corbyn voted against the leadership ,but at the same time he voted with the majority of back bench labour MPs,
    look at IDS saying vote against civil partnerships,Portillo,Ken Clarke lead a back bench rebellion and lots of Toires did,that finished it for him,

    6.5% out of say 400 votes a year,is still 26 times,a year

  18. Tafia says:

    Two very interesting articles in today’s Times (you do take the Times?) – oneby Mathew Parris and one by Stella Creasy.

    Both reaching basically the same conclusions – that Corbyn is a breath of fresh air and the party needs massively shaking up and re-organising from top to bottom as it is no longer relevant nand hasn’t been for years. That the key to all this is the membership – they must run the party, not boards, committees and MPs etc. Without that happening, it will die.

    It has, to quote Parris within living memory produced greats such as Attlee, Bevan, Morrison, Crpps, Gaitskell, Crossman, Castle, Foot, Benn, Jenkins and Healey. And yet in 2015 finds itself unable to offer any serious contender beyond Burnham & Cooper.

    He opines that what has happened in Scotland to Labour is just the beginning of the collapse and that Labour hasn’t had a big political idea since 1973. Blairs New Labour not being a sign of new thinking by the party but a desperate land grab. That it has gone from being ione of the greatest 20th Century modern political parties to teetering on irrelevance.

    And when you read both articles it is difficult to fault either Parris or Creasy who, despite being on the opposite sides of the political spectrum are basically reaching the same conclusion for the same reasons.

  19. Jack says:

    I not Ken Livingstone has knocked Jon Manns suggestion that if Corbyn wins,that he’s ousted in a coup straight away,

    this is the man who ousted Andrew Mkintosh in a coup, 24 hours after he was elected leader of the GLC in 1981

Leave a Reply