CorbynWatch (September 13 & 14)

After Corbyn’s victory in the leadership elections, Owen Jones quickly reminded the supporters of the “greatest against-all-odds victory in British political history” that their work has only just begun.[1] For The Mirror, meanwhile, the first four days after the election results would “prove crucial in shaping the direction and tone” of his leadership.[2]

Between September 13 and 14:

  1. Corbyn spent his first morning as leader honouring “a longstanding commitment in his constituency instead of going on television”,[3] while Tariq Ali told Democracy Now that a “political insurrection” had just taken place in Britain;[4]
  2. In his first meeting with Labour MPs on September 14, he stated his interest in “wearing a white poppyon Remembrance Sunday as “a symbol of peace”. A source claimed he had insisted that “any colour poppy is act of remembrance”. Since his election, meanwhile, it was revealed that “28,000 people [had] joined the party as full members[5], with the membership growing by 14,500 in just one day and sending “figures soaring to [their] highest level in decades”;[6]
  3. Corbyn called the government’s “trade union crackdown” an attempt to “shackle the unions” and “destroy another element of democracy within our society”, as even veteran Conservative MP David Davis said “some elements of the Bill were akin to General Franco’s dictatorship in Spain”,[7] calling it “Franco’s Britain”. Union leaders, meanwhile, said the bill was “Stalinist”,[8] and The Mirror said it was “opposed by two-thirds of the public”.[9] At the same time, Caroline Lucas said it was “a savage and vindictive assault on UK employment rights”, whilst asserting she would “be working with MPs from across the political parties in fighting this draconian piece of legislation” and would be “prepared to join trade unionists and others in taking non-violent direct action to resist it”;[10]
  4. US author Chris Hedges asked “Where Is Our Jeremy Corbyn?”, insisting that the new Labour leader’s “integrity, as well as his fearlessness, offers a lesson to America’s self-identified left, which is long on rhetoric… and very short on courage”;[11]
  5. UNITE’s general secretary Len McCluskey claimed Blairism was “dead and buried” and that Jeremy Corbyn (a “conviction politician willing to offer socialist alternatives to the status quo, and confident enough to say we don’t have to take our broken society as an immutable given”) was “the future”;[12]
  6. According to Channel Four’s Jon Snow, Corbyn had essentially shocked “the political system through sheer normality”;[13]
  7. For the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Corbyn was “a champion of Palestinian rights”;[14]

Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet was also revealed:

  1. Corbyn claimed his new team was “unifying, dynamic, [and] inclusive” and represented “a strong combination of change and continuity”;[15]
  2. As Corbyn faced stupid “accusations of sexism” for giving “top jobs” in his shadow cabinet to men (in spite of giving more cabinet jobs to women than the Tories did), Hilary Benn claimed that the view of the Treasury, Home Office, and Foreign Office posts being “the most senior positions” was simply an “old fashioned” one. “It all depends on your definition of ‘top job’’”, he said.[16] At the same time, Corbyn actually appointed “his party’s first ever majority female front bench” (with 16 women and 15 men).[17] Even so, Dawn Foster said at Open Democracy, Corbyn’s feminism would be “a matter of policy not appointment”, and the country would be better off judging the new leader on the policies that would improve women’s lives rather than for the number of women in his cabinet.[18] Foster’s colleague Ché Ramsden meanwhile, had previously insisted Corbyn’s political positions were “good news for women”;[19]
  3. For Gaby Hinsliff at The Guardian, Corbyn’s team may not have managed the media attacks on his first days in charge in the most experienced of ways, but he was “not a sexist”;[20]
  4. In fact, Corbyn did not even fill his shadow cabinet with allies, including as he did only three MPs in his shadow cabinet who had nominated him to be leader (with 11 others having nominated Burnham, eight having nominated Cooper, and one having supported Kendall);[21]
  5. Andy Burnham was given the post of shadow home secretary even though an undercover reporter for The Sun had previously recorded him saying a Corbyn victory would be a “disaster for Labour party”;[22]
  6. Vegan MP Kerry McCarthy was appointed as shadow secretary for environment, food, and rural affairs, in a move that suggested Corbyn’s Labour Party would be concerned about animal welfare;[23]
  7. Luciana Berger was appointed as shadow “Minister for Mental Health”, a “new creation” which had “no identical counterpart in the Conservative government”;[24]
  8. The Mirror’s Kevin Maguire insisting that Corbyn’s “gamble” on John McDonnell as shadow Chancellor showed the new leader was “good to his friends” and “prepared to make enemies”;[25]
  9. Although “not a shadow ministerial post”, Yvette Cooper was named “Chair of Labour’s refugee task force”, showing Corbyn’s clear desire to include even those who had been harsh critics of his policy proposals;[26]
  10. Veteran MP Dennis Skinner accused the BBC’s Emily Maitlis of “spinning”, asserting “you are not working for Murdoch at the BBC”;[27]

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/12/jeremy-corbyn-victory-easy-bit-grassroots

[2] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/four-days-define-jeremy-corbyns-6429695

[3] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-spent-his-first-morning-as-leader-visiting-his-local-nhs-mental-health-trust-10498716.html

[4] http://www.democracynow.org/2015/9/14/a_political_insurrection_in_britain_tariq

[5] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/09/14/jeremy-corbyn-plp-re-selection-boundaries-europe-poppy_n_8135584.html

[6] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/labour-membership-grows-14500-day-6434668

[7] http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/tory-trade-union-crackdown-mps-10053266

[8] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tory-mp-david-davis-breaks-6438378

[9] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tories-anti-strike-laws-opposed-6433594

[10] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ill-take-direct-action-to-stop-the-tories-new-antitrade-union-laws-says-caroline-lucas-10500430.html

[11] http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/where_is_our_jeremy_corbyn_20150913

[12] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/13/blairism-jeremy-corbyn-80s

[13] http://blogs.channel4.com/snowblog/jeremy-corbyn-shocking-political-system-sheer-normality/25745

[14] http://www.palestinecampaign.org/jeremy-corbyn-a-champion-of-palestinian-rights-leads-the-labour-party/

[15] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/jeremy-corbyn-names-unifying-dynamic-6439869

[16] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/09/13/chuka-umunna-jeremy-corbyn-reshuffle_n_8130576.html

[17] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/09/14/jeremy-corbyn-pictured-on-front-bench-for-the-first-time_n_8134310.html

[18] https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/dawn-foster/jeremy-corbyn-and-women-matter-of-policy-not-appointment

[19] https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ch%C3%A9-ramsden/jeremy-corbyn-and-myth-of-hysterical-woman

[20] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/14/jeremy-corbyn-mistake-sexist-shadow-cabinet

[21] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/09/14/jeremy-corbyn-pictured-on-front-bench-for-the-first-time_n_8134310.html

[22] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/sep/11/andy-burnham-to-report-the-sun-to-ipso-after-jeremy-corbyn-sting

[23] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-appoints-a-vegan-to-deal-with-britains-farmers-10500157.html

[24] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-creates-new-dedicated-minister-for-mental-health-in-his-shadow-cabinet-10500075.html

[25] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/jeremy-corbyn-shows-good-friends-6437973

[26] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/whos-shadow-cabinet-full-line-6437650

[27] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/09/14/dennis-skinne-bbc-rant-jeremy-corbyn-_n_8133390.html

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