Beat Corbyn in a fair fight, not by smearing him

by Kevin Meagher

Is Jeremy Corbyn a racist?

It’s a strange and unfamiliar accusation against a politician who has spent his entire adult life on one anti-racist march or another.

Israel aside, Corbyn is the bleeding heart’s bleeding heart.

The allegation of racial discrimination against him comes from a serving Labour frontbencher, Chi Onwurah.

Writing in the New Statesman earlier this week, she complained about the way her brief as shadow minister for culture and the digital economy (nope, me neither) had been split between her and another Labour MP, Thangam Debonnaire, without telling either of them:

‘If this had been any of my previous employers in the public and private sectors Jeremy might well have found himself before an industrial tribunal for constructive dismissal, probably with racial discrimination thrown in – given that only five per cent of MPs are black and female, picking on us two is statistically interesting to say the least.’

‘In any other job I would have called on my union for support in confronting an all-white management which prevented two of its few black employees from doing their jobs. I would have expected the Leader of the Labour Party to condemn such ineffectual management which allowed such abuse.’

The accusation is a new low in the war of attrition between the Parliamentary Labour Party and their leader. Corbyn may be many things and not be many things, but he is no racist and the slur is contemptible.

It’s also a doomed attempt to ‘swift boat’ Corbyn on an issue he has made his own.

Onwurah is on surer footing complaining about his ‘ineffectual management’. On this, she does has a fair point.

But welcome to politics.

To the middle class professionals coming into Parliament, it must be rather shocking to discover just how chaotic and incompetent it all is.

The successful politicians learn early on how to deal with the ambiguities presented by the lack of effective line management or decision-making.

The unsuccessful ones get frustrated at the lack of formality. It’s why so many business high flyers bomb out of politics.

But the poor people-management evidenced here is of a piece with leaders far more successful than Jeremy Corbyn.

Margaret Thatcher was said to have given the hapless Tory MP, John Patten, his first ministerial job thinking he was the far more talented Chris Patten. While David Cameron promoted Chloe Smith to a Treasury job, mistakenly thinking she was a chartered accountant.

I can see why MPs attacking Corbyn play the man and not the ball. The level of despair in Westminster is such that many MPs think this is their only chance to get rid of him.

But it will not work. In fact, it does, and will, play straight into his hands.

The disloyalty of Labour MPs (whether justified or not) plays disastrously outside the Westminster bubble. And not just among the swelled ranks of the Corbynistas.

Casually throwing around these kinds of nasty, unwarranted smears will backfire badly on the moderates. Relations in the parliamentary party are already rancorous enough without all that bad karma floating around.

The fact remains that Labour MPs have bungled their coup from Day One. They will, in all likelihood, leave Corbyn in a stronger position. The least said at this stage, the soonest mended.

For the sake of the party – and Owen Smith’s campaign – a period of silence from them would be most welcome.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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18 Responses to “Beat Corbyn in a fair fight, not by smearing him”

  1. paul barker says:

    Its a clear case of privelege. As a BAME Woman, Chi Onwurah cant imagine the struggles of a White Marxist with a huge ego & very little brain.

  2. Mark Livingston says:

    I just think the Blairites have yet to accept that their political philosophy is so discredited. No-one really takes them seriously these days. So, I agree: the best thing they can do is keep quiet and out of the way of progress.

  3. john P Reid says:

    Jeremy wilful blindness to the vitriol that momentum are spurting in his name makes him, unsuitable for leader

  4. Anne says:

    Maybe not smearing Corbyn but I feel it is legitimate to highlight his inadequaties – for example his poor handling of antisemitism accounts. Also His latest stunt on a virgin train was also very poorly judged – he wanted the viewer to believe he was sitting in the corridor for the entire journey when really the train staff found him and his party seats. This was a lie. On a much bigger scale of lie was the 350 million on the side of the red bus – by his omission not to condemn this lie he was endorsing it. All of these and many more are not acceptable behaviour for a leader.

  5. Tafia says:

    Is Jeremy Corbyn a racist?

    So far, he’s been labelled a racist, a sexist, an anti-semite and a marxist. Anything else you care to chuck at him? How about homophobe, or the most disgusting thing you can be – a Man Utd fan.

    Then his policies are ridiculed by people who are promoting Oily Smith when Smith’s policies are, errrm, well identical.

  6. buttley says:

    what he said

  7. Tafia says:

    Anne – On a much bigger scale of lie was the 350 million on the side of the red bus

    If you believe this is a lie, then you believe there isn’t 350M extra for the NHS full stop and therefore it is adequately funded.

    You can’t have it both ways.

    What’s going on at present is the Labour Party is becoming the joke that keeps on giving – and it’s not the Corbyn wing that’s doing that, quite the opposite.

  8. Kevin, sometimes your astuteness amazes me and makes me wonder why you ended up as an associate editor of Uncut.

  9. madasafish says:

    I would imagine Tories are sitting in silence and thanking their lucky stars JC is Labour Leader and hoping he is re-elected.

    He’s doing a great job for them.

    Little story:
    (Our local Confgleton Labour branch just voted for their choice of whom to back as Labour Leader. Our local paper – the Congleton Chronicle – reports 38 out of 420 Labour members attended the party meeting. Mr Cobyn won by 20 votes to Mr Smith’s 18.. The local secretary reported “Owen is probably more electable but Corbyn was more inspiring and had the support of the members”)

  10. John P Reid says:

    We’ve got to the stage where the Labour Party a democratic socialist party, has people joining ,after years of backing far left groups, calling themselves trots as a term of endearment, ,yet a trot by definition is a undemocratic socialist, and that contradicts the description of the party on the card.

  11. Paul Canning says:

    Chi Onwurah herself has responded on Twitter. I have collated and included some context:

    She did not use the word racist. She said, clearly, that under employment law a case could be made for racial discrimination, as well as constructive dismissal.

    Instead of debating what she actually claimed a totally invented mirage – calling Jeremy ‘racist’ – is being debated, which her response points out. She has also had a stack of racist abuse directed at her, most notably the widespread use of the term ‘playing the race card’.

    That people cannot understand this distinction, most notably most journalists reporting on this, says much about where BAME people really stand in the UK in 2016.

  12. Anne says:

    Nothing wrong with being a Man U fan, but as a Londoner I would doubt that JC can be accused of that.
    I believe, and I think this has been proven, that the 350 million of the side of the bus which BREXIT claimed would be given to the N H S was a lie. By not highlighting this lie then surely JC was condoning it.

  13. James Martin says:

    Anne, the extra £350 million has not yet been proven to be a lie as we have not yet left the EU have we? As I understood it the figure related to the net outflow of UK money to the EU compared to what comes back the other way in grants and subsidies. And actually it is a rather useful thing to have been put out there, as when Brexit finally does happen it then allows a campaign to be waged around government spending priorities where this figure can and will be used as ammunition. In fact this is a far better strategy than the lunatics calling for a second referendum because they didn’t like the way the vote went the first time (and aside from handing large chinks of the north where I live to UKIP were this to happen I do wonder whether Smith – and to link it to this article Chi Onwurah who has also called for a second referendum – would then be calling for a third referendum given they clearly don’t get democracy?).

    As to the main article, yes I agree with others it is very perceptive, Comrade Meagher is wasted here!

  14. Sean says:

    Tafia, It is plainly ridiculous to equate the £350 million figure being false and the believing that the NHS is properly funded. Of course it isn’t (to the likely tune of £30bn by 2021). The £350 million figure represents the incorrect assertion that we would be able to hold on to that extra money every week (Actual figure is more like a third of that) whereas the amount of money needed to fund the NHS would need to be borrowed or found elsewhere in the budget (something I would support). To be fair, I think Jeremy failed to highlight this by omission rather than intent.

    As for jokes that keeps on giving, Traingate is the stuff of PR men’s nightmares. The man now can’t sit down without jokes at his expense.

  15. Sean says:


    The £350 million a week is not actually the figure that takes into account the outflow against the inflow. It is partly because it omits this that it is a lie. They got that figure by taking the Treasury calculations of our yearly contribution and dividing it by 48 to give a weekly figure. Bang! £350 million a week that could have gone to the NHS.

    Except this is where it all goes wrong. They do not include the 1984 Thatcher rebate which allowed the UK to pay significantly under the 1% of GDP required of most Members (worth £4.9bn in the same treasury figures as above). This already reduces the figure by over £100 million. Further it does not take any account of funds returning from the EU to projects in the UK (£4.4bn with a further £1.4 billion in private research). By taking this into account, you end up well below £350 million. They could have conceivably argued for £248 million (ignoring EU funding) but the real figure is more like £138 million. Seems pretty dishonest to me. I don’t know why they didn’t use that figure, after all it’s not a small amount.

  16. BorisT says:

    Both left and right wing news-media, including the state owned BBC, started their smear campaign on Jeremy Corbyn the minute he looked like winning the first Labour Leadership Competition. This constant sniping and the direct attacks on the man, not his policies, has continued during Jeremy’s first year and is becoming ever more strident and hysterical.

    It is a sure sign that someone has lost the argument when ad hominem are used rather than debating ideas. Time will tell whether Jeremy can win the 2020 election, but with the Tory party about to explode, due to Brexit and other internal issues, I’m certain he will have a better chance than Ed Milliband did.

  17. Tafia says:

    The £350 million a week is not actually the figure that takes into account the outflow against the inflow. It is partly because it omits this that it is a lie.

    Until we have been out of the EU a complete fiscal year then you don’t know whether it’s a lie or not – which means you are lying.

    And you also omit to mention that for every £10 we put in, we get £8 back BUT we are told how we must spend that £8 (such as on the pointless iconic glass and stainless steel footbridge where I live that is barely used and cost £8M when we are desperately short of social housing).

    So how about we keep the ten quid and we decide how to spend it ourselves.

    but the real figure is more like £138 million. Even if that were true, it’s still 138M a week that they aren’t getting now.

  18. Sean says:

    I agree that we do not know the figures from 2019/2020. That figure may well be somewhat lower given that it is based on Britain’s GDP. That doesn’t stop anyone from saying that the £350m a week figure is a lie or, to be generous, an extremely selective use of facts. Leave’s figure is based on data from 2015 so fiscal figures from 2019/2020 have no bearing on it’s validity. Almost every independent fact checker identified the same fallacies, using the exact same data from 2015.

    I’ll happily admit to voting remain because I believed £138m a week is a worthy price for the economic and social benefits of being in the EU. A large number of people would contest that, which is entirely legitimate as the EU is no white knight (nor is the UK Government). That should have been the debate that was had; rather than one side warning of armageddon (often ridiculously poorly) and the other peddling simple lies intended to “stick” in the minds of voters. The real farce is that we may well end up paying the £138m a week (at least) regardless, in return for access to the economic area. That would be a true waste of taxpayer money, for access without influence.

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