Jeremy Corbyn Is 'Least Charismatic Leader Of The Left' But I'd Still Have Voted For Him Says Gary Younge

'They can’t keep doing this to themselves.'

25/09/2016 08:26

Jeremy Corbyn is “probably the least charismatic leader of the left” but Labour MPs need to accept the fact that he “keeps beating them,” says Gary Younge, the Guardian columnist and author.

In an interview with The Huffington Post UK, the left-wing commentator called Corbyn an “accidental leader” who was propelled into his role by forces greater than himself.

Corbyn is “not tub-thumping or rhetorical brilliant” and claims that his leadership is ineffective may be true, Younge said.

The Guardian
Younge said Corbyn is an 'accidental leader'.

But he said he would have voted Corbyn in both leadership contests if he was a Labour Party member, because “something had to happen, and this is that something”.

Speaking to HuffPost UK before Corbyn won the leadership election with 61.8% of the vote on Saturday, Younge said such a victory would signify it was “time for everybody - I mean everybody, him too - to take a breath, and to take stock of a couple of things”.

“First of all, they can’t keep doing this to themselves, so there has to be some accommodation, and that accommodation isn’t going to just be about him.”

“The parliamentary party has to reckon with why this unlikely man that they say is so terrible keeps winning. If he’s so terrible, why does he keep beating you?

“And he has to reckon with the resistance that he’s facing, not just in the parliamentary party, but how he builds the kind of coalition nationally that could really take on the Conservatives.”

Younge who has written that Labour is “heading into the abyss” and has been “obsessed” with removing Corbyn, said both the leader and his party need to “reckon” with what his victory means.

“I find Corbyn himself an accidental leader,” claimed Younge. “He’s kind of been washed up by these historical currents, much like like Bernie Sanders, Podemos or Syriza. It’s fallen on his quite slender shoulders to be the standard-bearer in this moment.”

Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Despite criticising Corbyn Younge says he would have backed him if he was a Labour member.

“He’s probably the least charismatic leader of the left. If you think of Tony Benn, or Livingstone in a previous moment, or any of those types, Corbyn’s kind of a sandally, methodist, beardy... just not tub-thumping, not particularly rhetorical brilliant.”

He said Corbyn was not a natural leader of the new movement within Labour: “If you were to cast around and think, ‘Who will we have to lead an insurrection?’ You probably wouldn’t come up with this most unassertive guy.”

He said Corbyn needed to “do something” with the large shows of support the leader receives at rallies: “I’ve been to his meetings, he has a thousand people in Brighton, a thousand people in Chelmsford. I would like to see him do something with those people.

“It’s a big meeting, that’s fine, pass round the brownies and we can all have a good time. [But] I would like to see if he has a different vision for labour, I would like to see it in action. 

“I think a lot of the charges about him being ineffective at a leader might be true - I don’t know, I’m not there. In order to give him the chance, then he has to stop taking fire from his own side.

“But it’s painful, and it’s painful because to the central question of [whether he can] win an election - I don’t know. Maybe not. But I think for Britain to have a different conversation about itself, something had to happen, and this is that something.”

Younge, who was the Guardian’s US correspondent and returned to the UK in 2015, picked out transport services as something that was “going wrong” in the UK.

“You get on a train, they are crap and they are crowded. I was just in Stevenage, the bus service is terrible. It’s not like there isn’t something wrong or something going on.

Matt Crossick/Matt Crossick
Corbyn won the leadership election with 61.8% of the vote.

Younge does not believe the Labour Party has to break apart over its differences, reasoning: “[Corbyn] stayed in the party for a long time when it was going in the other direction, and I think if it splits it won’t do either side much good.

“I think there are a range of things that they can work on together, and still keep all of their other disagreements. You don’t have to dwell on Trident. You don’t have to do that. You can instead dwell on grammar schools, there are a few basic things that they all agree on.

“I think it would behove all of them to say, ‘These things we are never going to agree on, we may be diametrically opposed but we have the choice of whether we want to fetischize those things, or whether we want to dwell on three or four things and send out a very basic message which would be more of less [that] we think Britain should be fairer.

"I think they could all do that.”

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