Jeremy Corbyn’s fans are doing his opponents a favour

A brief introduction first for those of you wise enough not to spend time at the weekend following politics on Twitter.

Labour MP Chuka Umunna gave a speech in which he used a common literary allusion, dating back to William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, calling on Jeremy Corbyn to “call off the dogs” in Labour’s internal infighting.

Cue Corbyn supporters responding claiming that it was a literal reference to themselves as being dogs and loudly tweeting outrage. Chief amongst these was Owen Jones, despite the fact that he himself has used the dogs phrase metaphorically in the past.

Cue next outrage at the outrage, something which could almost be Twitter’s mission statement on a bad day.

But there’s something of more significance here too. A big unknown at the moment is how, if some Labour MPs were to split, Liberal Democrats would react. The closer the cooperation and the less the competition the more likely such a split is to be successful. But would this happen?

There is, after all, plenty that many Liberal Democrats may dislike about splitting Labour MPs. Take Chuka Umunna as an example. His dreadful error of judgement over a smear campaign against a Liberal Democrat a few years back is something I wrote about on this site:

Some of his Labour colleagues took the right and brave decision to tell the truth to the police, helping secure the conviction of Miranda Grell. Umunna? He so staunchly defended Grell that he even lashed out at a Lib Dem blogger for simply factually reporting the arrest as “base politics of the worst kind”. No, the base politics of the worst kind were Grell’s disgusting smearing of her Liberal Democrat opponent as a paedophile and someone with real leadership ability, and not just a Wikipedia entry talking about it, would have behaved very differently.

Consider more broadly applicable factors such as voting records on Iraq or civil liberties, and it’s easy to see why splitting Labour MPs may find a hostile reaction from many Liberal Democrats.

Except that I’ve noticed a significant warming of fellow Lib Dems to such Labour MPs in response to the sort of absurd attacks on them as the one this weekend.

The more ludicrous and the more nasty the attacks, the easier it will be for Lib Dems to swallow the past and find new common ground.

Corbyn’s fans are doing his opponents a favour.

4 responses to “Jeremy Corbyn’s fans are doing his opponents a favour”

  1. Having long thought Owen Jones was amiable, if sometimes misguided, I’ve been disgusted by his inability or unwillingness to see the anti-semitism of Corbyn’s ‘irony’ comment. This ridiculous, ignorant tweet only confirms that opinion.

  2. What is “dehumanising” is treating complex, diverse individual people as if their identity and value can be simply expressed by deciding whether they’re saints or lost, on message or off message, followers of the Truth or distorters of it. Despite the many decent people and values to be found in Labour, this approach is in their cultural DNA. Corbyn worship is just one iteration of it. If he was an enthusiastic supporter of the EU, Momentum purists would treat all Labour Leavers as traitors.

  3. The origin of the phrase “call off the dogs” seemed to me clear. Dogs were long used in hunting – both of animals and people. The person controlling the dogs could call them off and send them back to their kennels. The very clear implication in this is that there is a group of people doing the bid of their master who can be called off.
    I need to now start looking for the meaning of raining cats and dogs! I am not sure if the reference given means that rain has rights, or what if anything it is about.

  4. The LibDems don’t have to welcome disillusioned Labour MPs with open arms, they just need to cooperate with them – and vice versa. A cross-party coordination network will be needed to maximise the vote against bad Brexit solutions. It could also act tackle other controversial issues, but on an issue by issue basis, rather than a traditional all-or-nothing party whip. This approach which will fit very well with the LibDems bid to create a new centrist movement and will make it much easier for MPs to maintain good relations with their existing networks and bring colleagues along with them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments and data you submit with them will be handled in line with the privacy and moderation policies.