I didn't put Jeremy Corbyn on my ballot for the Labour leadership. He came across as very genuine during the leadership campaign, but I just couldn't get behind his policies. We lost the election because we didn't appeal to enough of the electorate, so running for the leadership with policies that only appeal to one segment of society seemed like pure folly.
So as you might imagine I was pretty disappointed when the election result was announced. Corbyn was of course tipped to win, but winning in the first round of vote counting with a landslide majority certainly demonstrated a strong mandate for his leadership. I wasn't happy, but I couldn't argue with the democratic process.
The next few days were like watching a train crash in agonisingly slow motion. Here's a list of Corbyn-related blunders I can think of off the top of my head right now:
- dropping out of the Andrew Marr show;
- unceremoniously announcing members of the Shadow Cabinet;
- not giving one of the top three Shadow Cabinet jobs to a woman;
- conflicting views within the Shadow Cabinet over EU membership;
- not singing the national anthem;
- refusing to comment on whether he'd kneel before the Queen.
This was hugely disappointing, to say the least. Ironically, I was becoming disillusioned with a leader who's campaign slogan was "straight talking, honest politics."
The eagerly awaited Prime Minister's Questions was refreshing. Corbyn didn't exactly give the PM a hard time, but it was nice to see it conducted in a more mature way. However, I can easily imagine this style of questioning becoming bland very quickly. If Corbyn is to keep on asking the PM questions from members of the public, he has to mix it with some hard questioning to put the PM on the back foot.
I was pleasantly surprised by John McDonnell's performance on Question Time on Thursday. In particular he showed some heartfelt contrition over his choice of words in an address to Irish republicans in 2003. He was, and really still is, the Shadow Cabinet appointment I was/am most anxious about. Having the reputation of a political bruiser, previous concerns from the likes of David Blunkett over intimidation by some of Corbyn's allies looked like they might be realised.
The tone of the leadership coverage seems to have improved every so slightly since PMQs. Perhaps there was a realisation within the Shadow Cabinet that, after the bad press earlier in the week, it simply isn't going to be possible to not comment on some questions. I sincerely hope this trend improves, because with the package they are trying to sell, they'll need one hell of a press team.
Posted by Matt Spraggs at 15:25, 19 September 2015
Edited at 23:00, 26 September 2015