I thought I would write a bit more about the strategy of
undermining your own political party’s leadership, and why I think
it is daft even on its own terms
One of the characteristics of a few on the far left of politics is a
total belief in the ends they strive for, and very little concern
about the means used to achieve it. Anything that brings on the
revolution is OK. We now seem to have some near the centre of the
political spectrum behaving in exactly the same way. Their revolution
is deposing Corbyn from the leadership of the Labour party, and
undermining that leadership is their means. For the sake of clarity,
let me call this group the anti-Corbynistas.
When someone loses a leadership election, they generally retire
gracefully. Sometimes they are offered a senior role under the new
leader (Clinton and Obama) and become an active supporter. On other
occasions (David and Ed) they would prefer, for whatever reason, to
withdraw from the scene. And normally their supporters do the same.
The goal of getting the party re-elected overrides any thoughts about
who might have been a better leader. Other parties and the media will
do their best to exploit these past divisions, but nearly everyone in
the party avoids this bait.
As far as the contestants for the 2015 Labour party leadership are
concerned, they have played by these rules. One chose to be in the
Shadow Cabinet, and the two that declined have not spent their free
time writing critical articles in the media. The majority of Labour
MPs have made a similar choice: work with the new leadership or stay
quiet. But an important minority, accompanied by a large group of
political commentators, have not. They are the anti-Corbynistas.
Their mantra is the impossibility of Labour led by Corbyn winning.
 This has the same status as a belief in the inevitability of
revolution: just as the latter is fed by every injustice, so the
former is supported by every opinion poll. For that reason I do not
want to try and contest the certainty of their belief - there is no
point. Instead I want to question the logic of what then follows.
Their reasoning goes like this. Because Corbyn is a barrier to Labour
winning, the prime goal must be to hasten his departure by any means.
As these individuals have easy access to the media, their main means
is to criticise, or even mock, the Labour leadership at every turn.
By doing this they ensure that Corbyn’s defeat at the polls will be
sooner or greater, and thereby they believe hasten his removal from
What I want to argue that this tactic is counterproductive. Just as
the behaviour of the revolutionary makes most sensible people doubt
the attraction of any revolution, so the constant sniping at the
leadership extends rather than shortens its life.
The reason is straightforward. Corbyn was elected by the membership,
and if anything support for him has grown since then. (This and
subsequent statements are based on this poll
On key issues like Trident this membership share Corbyn’s own
views, although it is worth noting that most expect their MP to
represent their constituents views rather than their own.  So the
question you have to ask is what will persuade Labour members to vote
for someone else.
The obvious answer is a gradual realisation that Corbyn cannot win a
general election, together with the emergence of someone else who
looks like a better bet.  The mistake the anti-Corbynistas make is
to then think that their tactics of open criticism will hasten this
In fact the tactic will have the opposite effect. If they kept quiet
and Corbyn loses in elections badly, as they are sure he will, then
Labour members will see quite clearly the need for change and look
elsewhere. By constantly generating bad publicity for the party, they
muddy these waters. Corbyn supporters will claim that the bad results
are the result of anti-Corbynista activity, and it will not be
obvious they are wrong. So if anything the tactic of the
anti-Corbynistas will delay, rather than hasten, the day that the
membership elects someone else. That is why people like Tony Blair should
tell them to stop.
If their strategy is so obviously misguided, why do the
anti-Corbynistas persist? One reason may be human nature: they hate
Corbyn, and find it difficult to bite their tongue. Another is that
they are constantly cheered on or goaded by the right, although you might
imagine that would worry some people. But there is an alternative and
more rational reason. Their real goal may not be the overthrow of
Corbyn, but the creation of a new party. That strategy within the UK
system is also flawed, but that would have to be the subject of
Why am I, a macroeconomist, writing about such a political issue? I
get annoyed by their constant references to me as a Corbyn supporter
because I consort with the enemy, but I can live with that. (The same
would come from the right anyway.) What annoys me more is that they
are playing a large role in depriving the UK of an effective
opposition party. Every time the new leadership launches a justified
criticism of the current government, there is a fair chance this will
turn into a discussion of divisions within Labour.
This is in danger of influencing macro policy. Osborne’s fiscal
charter - which involves going for surplus - is so isolated in terms
of informed opinion and out of tune with current concerns that it
deserves to be ridiculed at every turn, so that if nothing else it is
not tried again. I think that could happen with concerted pressure,
but that pressure needs to include a united opposition. This did not
happen before the election because Labour seemed to want to avoid the
subject. We then had McDonnell for a moment flirting with the idea of
supporting the charter. Now that Labour appear
to have decided on a more sensible strategy, it would be tragic if
this opposition to Osborne was diluted by some within
to support the charter and dishing their own side.
 Some argue that these people are really a fifth column that
should not be in the Labour party at all. I think this is wrong.
Their belief that Corbyn is a barrier to Labour winning seems
perfectly genuine to me, and I think Labour needs to be a broad
 Another part of the anti-Corbynista’s mantra is that Corbyn’s
goal is to take control of the party by deselecting MPs, and there
are examples of individuals who do indeed want that, but this poll
suggests it is not what most party members want.
 Sometimes anti-Corbynistas complain that Labour party members
would prefer to lose than compromise with the electorate: that does
not seem true, but it also rather obviously contradicts their own
 In comments to this blog I have had some anti-Corbynistas deny
this disloyalty has any effect on the electorate: again this seems very dubious but also contradicts the strategy.