We all know what a disappointment Theresa May has turned out to have been. Her purported energy price cap has been scarcely worth mentioning, while there is no sign of workers’ and consumers’ representation in corporate governance, or of shareholders’ control over executive pay, or of restrictions on pay differentials within companies, or of an investment-based Industrial Strategy and infrastructure programme, or of greatly increased housebuilding, or of action against tax avoidance, or of a ban on public contracts for tax-avoiding companies, or of banning or greatly restricting foreign takeovers, or of a ban on unpaid internships, and of an inquiry into Orgreave. Instead, we have had the bombing of Syria in the Saudi-backed jihadi interest. It is immaterial whether or not that had parliamentary approval. The wars in Iraq and Libya both had parliamentary approval, but so what?
And the emphasis on that technicality, instead of on the wrongness of the bombing itself, points to the fact that, as a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn who is not a member of any political party, he, too, has given me some cause for disappointment. He has overlooked his supporters by appointing his enemies to frontbench and other positions. He permitted a free vote on Syria. He whipped an abstention on Trident. He has never brought the arming of the Saudi war in Yemen back to the floor of the House of Commons for another vote. He has failed to make the trip to Iran that would certainly secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, thereby making it highly unlikely that Abbas Edelat would have been arrested, either.
Corbyn’s housing and transport policies go nowhere near far enough. He supports the Government’s indulgence of the ludicrous theory of gender self-identification. He sides with neoliberal capitalism on the issues of drugs and prostitution. He has hinted at support for the Customs Union, which, in a crowded field, has a reasonable claim to be the worst of all the many bad things about the EU. He has accepted some of the Government’s baseless and collapsed claims about Salisbury and Douma. He has acted against the social and ethnic cleansing of Labour Haringey, but not to secure justice for the 472 Teaching Assistants in Labour Durham.
Corbyn has met the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council without having waited for the local election results in London to establish whether or not they spoke for anyone very much at all. He has failed to prevent the Labour Party from suspending or expelling distinguished Jewish activists for purported anti-Semitism. And now, under Corbyn’s Leadership, Labour has expelled Marc Wadsworth, the man who introduced Doreen and Neville Lawrence to Nelson Mandela. It has done so on the say-so of one Ruth Smeeth, who is notable for nothing apart from having made an allegation of anti-Semitism against Wadsworth, an allegation that she has since withdrawn. Yet she and some 50 other white MPs marched through the streets to demand his expulsion, in a scene reminiscent of a lynching. They all remain members of the Labour Party, as does Tony Blair of Iraq infamy, yet Wadsworth is expelled for having “brought the party into disrepute”. If Labour has not done all that well after all in the London local elections, then this will have been the reason why. Whether or not those MPs know who Wadsworth is, or why he matters, an awful lot of otherwise Labour-inclined London voters do.
Like many people, I yearn for Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister. But we must reserve the right to pursue that electoral objective outside the Labour Party.