The Perils of Primaries – Corbyn and Trump

It’s always a problem. In a primary system, only the most engaged of any party’s supporters – the ‘base’ – picks a candidate. As a result, extremists are often, but not always, elected to lead. They then spend the rest of their time as leader frantically rowing back from whatever they said to win over the base, in order to win the general election.

While I had huge respect for Conservative party members and activists as a candidate – I was one before and am still one now – I bore in mind it wasn’t 500 local members who would elect me or not, but roughly 70-80 000 voters in our large constituency. As Conservatives we had to appeal to the middle, the disengaged, the swing voter.

This problem is writ large in 2015, in opposite directions on two sides of the pond. Jeremy Corbyn, a far-left MP, is leading in Labour’s race in the UK while Donald Trump is leading in the GOP primary field, for now. Trump made cracks about Mexican immigrants raping and Fox News anchor and debate moderator Megyn Kelly’s period. Now I am not politically correct, but if racism and sexism is the answer, my support goes to Hillary.

Jeremy Corbyn was revealed yesterday to have donated to the anti-semitic hate group Deir Yassin Remembered and gone to ‘every one’ of their celebrations since the year 2000 (that’s over a span of 15 years  for those counting). Yesterday his office issued a non-denial denial, saying the ‘office’ had no connection with the brutal anti-semite and racist Paul Eisen, its leader; but they would not answer if Corbyn had donated, was a member, or had personal connections with Eisen. (photo is of Corbyn at a DYR rally in 2005)

On both ends of the political spectrum, it’s simply not good enough, and it’s a problem for the Republicans and for Labour that their supporters like these people. The GOP should stop giving Trump airtime. Erick Erickson of Red State led the way on that yesterday.

But there is one big difference between the Republican primary and the Labour leadership. The Republican voters can make Trump the nominee, and voters can make him the President; he is directly elected to executive office.

Nobody wants to tell Labour party members the unhappy truth which is that they cannot make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister. A Prime Minister is simply a man or woman who can command a majority in the House of Commons. Right now, Labour MPs are saying as loudly as they dare that they will not sign up to Corbyn’s Cabinet; but it also means they won’t follow his whip or his leadership. Corbyn himself rebelled so often he cannot expect his colleagues to follow his lunatic policies now.

Whatever the votes cast, it’s really simple; if Jeremy Corbyn cannot get Labour MPs to support his policies, he can’t lead the party, and certainly can never become Prime Minister. He could never sit in front of the Queen and tell her he can command a majority in the House of Commons if Labour MPs won’t support him.

One end game is second preferences making Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham leader. Another is that Corbyn wins, Labour MPs immediately rebel (two months perhaps – but they would be better declaring the leadership election infiltrated and ripping off the plaster right away than waiting) and a second election is scheduled. Tom Watson will be elected Deputy Leader in the forthcoming election, and would therefore be Acting Leader at the time. I can see Tom running, and he would win any second contest easily. I know and like Tom and he is a pragmatist. Compared to Corbyn he will look like Margaret Thatcher. Compared to Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper he will look like Jeremy Corbyn, however. Tom’s support in the Union movement is total. He would be an effective leader of the Opposition if (and my advice here is as his friend) he worked hard on understanding the shift he’d just made, and above all other things, controlled his temper and moderated his speech.

At any rate, Corbyn refusing to speak on membership of and financial donation to Deir Yassin Remembered is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable in terms of the group and it’s also unacceptable in terms of cowardice.

If he wins, Labour MPs should take the damage on the chin and make their move immediately to oust him. The problem will not get better the longer they procrastinate.


  1. Graham Taylor · August 9, 2015

    My impression is that the labour party needs to find a way of being more redistributive than the torys, a bit “kinder” and more supportive of its traditional base but none of that seems to amount to clear blue water and consequently not a strong political position. I suspect that Corbyns ties to the deeply unpleasant Eisen will look more like nieve knee jerk leftwing orthodoxy – if you are pro Palestinian and anti Israel we will man the barricades with you whether you are a nasty Theotocratic Islamist or a Holocaust denying anti semite. What he is, I suspect, is soft headed, a socialist of conviction and faith but God knows not someone I, as a possible but ultra sceptical Labour vote, could ever countenance. So there you have it a party that offers little significant choice or Left conviction driven idiocy. As someone who thinks three Tory terms would unleash the loons I have come to despair of my options.

  2. Fred Wyropiquet · August 9, 2015

    Lots of misunderstandings – real I think rather than deliberately damaging. First is that anyone’s set of policies will be a mix. In traditionalist terms (I’m taking an ‘average’ of post-war ideas, policies, legislation across both Labour & Tory parties and governments) most of Jeremy Corbyn’s views are not extreme. Excluding his foreign policies he mostly fits the consensus of both parties. His unilateralist approach to nuclear weapons is left-wing but mainstream Labour Party over the post-war period. His foreign relations is a mix of standard Foreign Office with a dangerous mix of honesty thrown in + left-wing belief in the perfidity of western governments (quite valid) and a naive view of everyone else (quite invalid).

    Second. There have been no votes yet for any candidate. The local party ‘in-groups’ seem to be looking for a ‘middle-of -the-road’ candidate (i.e. Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper) but being overtaken by a wider group of supporters favouring Jeremy Corbyn. It is very mixed so difficult to pin down but there is no indication of a small core choosing an ‘extremist’. In any case in traditionalist terms it’s Jeremy Corbyn who is the centrist candidate – the rest are right-wing Labour or very right-wing Labour.

    Third. Jeremy Corbyn seems to have joined the race to get issues debated rather than be a serious candidate. How much this has changed over the past couple of weeks is difficult to tell. New Labour seems to have worked by dropping the ‘lets talk about policy’ which was always the bedrock of Labour politics. The idea seemed to have been to get power and some policies good for people would emerge. It worked 2000-2010 but without a socialist structure – and, although much good was done, the lack of structure led to mistakes. Jeremy’s supporters seem to include the many who were abandoned 1997-2008 and only partially recognised coincident to the world economic crash when little could be done about it.

    Fourth (Louise needs to hold tight here). There is a realisation of the truth that the current and previous governments are deliberately acting against the best interests of our community (our community = all of the the people of the UK) and in favour of a small group intent on raiding the wealth and skills of the country for short-term pecuniary advantage. This is masked solely to gain political power through overwhelming support from the wealth and words of mainly foreign individuals and corporations. Money and clever lies with media support, threats, and blackmail goes a long way. The realisation of what is happening makes people anxious as they see the loss of not only a great deal of good that was set in place 2000-2010 but also the critical and cross-party consensus set in place 1940-1979. What we are seeing is a return to the 1930s – and for those that don’t understand the implications of that they should read Aneurin Bevan’s “In Place Of Fear”. There was good reason for Nye Bevan to refer to Tories as “lower than vermin” and it is being clearly illustrated now. A realisation of what is happening has caused a polarisation in the Labour Party: we need to get in power fast in order to mitigate the horrors being imposed on people v. we need significant, socialist policies to overturn these horrors.

    Fifthly. Louise needs to to think back over the last couple of months and the Tim Hunt débâcle. I trust the Daily Mail just as much as Connie St Louis – i.e. not at all. I am willing to wait for the truth of the Corbyn links to surface – though I hesitate to suggest that Louise might repeat her sterling work! The spin placed on it by the Mail (and Louise) makes little sense. I’ll wait for the sense to emerge.

  3. Nibs · August 10, 2015

    As usual, all this boils down to is the typical “anti-semite” slurs. Frankly Ms Mensch, you had better start realizing, that your Israel-first mentality is shared by fewer and fewer people. Look at any unbiased poll and you will see that this is true. Look at American reactions to AIPAC meddling in US foreign policy over the Iran Deal.
    So “jezbollah” !!! “HAMAS” !! “links to Holocaust denier” !!!
    Panic in the ranks as all these Tories wet their collective pants at the idea that the debate window in the House of Commons might move leftward (or merely to the centre of a few years ago), and debate such things as the yawning inequality in the UK, the continuous Middle East wars (of which Mensch and all neocons approve while 1000s of miles from any danger), the recognition of a Palestinian State…etc.

  4. Anonymous · August 10, 2015

    The pro-Israei at any price view should have died in 1956 with Eden’s wild adventure. That doesn’t mean that a pro-Hamas view is any better. It makes sense to reject both current ‘sides’ and support the people of the Middle East – then you realise how fervently anti-the others some of them are. As soon as you take a step to do something ultra good & positive [like stand between armies and civilians] you find you have ‘allies’ with vile views. For those of us who are too cowardly to take that ultra good and positive step it’s not right to throw insults or condemnations. Keeping our hands clean by doing nothing is not something to be pleased about.

  5. mraemiller · August 14, 2015

    “Nobody wants to tell Labour party members the unhappy truth which is that they cannot make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister”

    Labour party members only add up to half the electorate.
    Around 70% of the remaining are union affiliate votes – these are now equally weighted with member votes despite the fact they don’t pay the same amount of money to the party … but fair enough they used to be under-represented under the Blair/Brown stystem
    Around 40% of the remaining are Ed Miliband’s new “supporters” category.
    The big question is not how the system works but will the NEC publish the voter category breakdown after the election. It usually does and this usually shows clearly if the system has gone wrong and there’s been mass entryism.
    In order to prevent entryism there’s supposed to be a freeze date some time before the ballots go out.
    There has always been an element of selling votes during these elections to increase membership but the “freeze date” this time is merely 48 hours before the ballots start to go out. So why bother have one?
    What a farce…

  6. mraemiller · August 17, 2015

    “Nobody wants to tell Labour party members the unhappy truth which is that they cannot make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister. A Prime Minister is simply a man or woman who can command a majority in the House of Commons. Right now, Labour MPs are saying as loudly as they dare that they will not sign up to Corbyn’s Cabinet; but it also means they won’t follow his whip or his leadership.”

    He’s standing for leader of the Labour Party not Prime Minister. While it is technically true that the Prime Minister is the man who can command a majority in the House of Commons simply being able to command a majority in the House of Commons does not make you Labour Party Leader and the party cannot select its leaders on the basis of who the MPs alone like. If MPs alone select the party leader that is the road to the bitter factional battles of the 1990s Conservative Party which used to get through a leader every 18 months. During this period some wonderful systems were created my favourite of which was the idea that the incumbent leader of the Tory party was at the time expected to get a majority of MPs + 15% …
    …this meant that Mrs Thatcher was toppled from the leadership despite getting a greater percentage of MPs to support her in the 1990 leadership ballot than she had had in the 1975 leadership ballot. Left alone to chose the leader simply by exhaustive ballot of MPs the Conservative party ended up with some pretty rum choices such as William Hague. Ironically the first elected leader by both MPs and the party members that the Conservatives came up with was the even less Prime Ministerial Iain Duncan Smith who was toppled by Michael Howard. David Cameron is the first PM the Conservatives have ever had to be elected by both MPs and party members. Even the Conservatives don’t leave it all up to MPs these days.

    Also I would point out that “commanding a majority in the House of Commons” does not have to mean exclusively from your own party. Callaghan relied on support from the Liberals and of course Ramsay McDonald led a hodge podge minority and “National Governments” from 1929 to 1935 when it fell apart due to no one being sure what the Labour Party was any more or why the Prime Minister didn’t seem to look like a member … or how you can have a Labour Prime Minister but only 13 National Labour MPs…?

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