A former senior Labour member lambasted Jeremy Corbyn, after the far-left politician led his party to its most dismal showing in decades, losing dozens of seats and giving Boris Johnson, Britain’s deeply unpopular Conservative prime minister, another term at 10 Downing Street.
In an op-ed published by the Daily Mail, former home secretary Alan Johnson lambasted Corbyn, accusing him and his supporters of being “more concerned with ideological purism than winning elections.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party won 365 seats in the House of Commons, its best performance since party icon Margaret Thatcher’s last victory in 1987. Labour slumped to 203 seats, its worst showing since 1935.
Despite disagreeing with Corbyn’s politics, which marked a significant shift to the left for Labour, Johnson asserted Saturday that the primary cause of Labour’s woes wasn’t policy but Corbyn himself, whom he described as “a weak, self-regarding, pious man incapable of leadership.”
“The working classes looked at Corbyn and saw somebody who was unpatriotic to the extent that the country’s enemies were his friends. They hated his pacifism, his simplistic division of the world between evil oppressors and their victims, his disdain of aspiration,” he wrote.
Corbyn indicated Friday he would step down after a leadership vote early next year, after initially saying he would stay on to steer the party through a “period of reflection.”
Pointing a finger at “billionaire-owned and influenced” media and the Brexit debate for Labour’s crushing defeat in the UK’s elections, Corbyn nonetheless said Saturday that he took some responsibility for the party being thrashed in the polls. “We have suffered a heavy defeat, and I take my responsibility for it,” Corbyn wrote in an opinion piece published by The Guardian.
Johnson has long been critical of Corbyn. In 2016, a year after Corbyn rose to the leadership of Labour, Johnson declared that unless more moderate members could “recapture” Labour, the party would be “dead and finished and gone.”
Corbyn, he said, was “totally incompetent and incapable of being the leader of a political party and he knows it.”
“He hasn’t got a huge ego but it’s got bigger and he’s self-righteous,” Johnson wrote at the time. “There’s this adulation out there, it goes to your head. No compromise with the electorate was the left’s theme in the early Eighties and God forbid we go back to that.”
Writing in the Daily Mail following Thursday’s elections, Johnson decried Momentum, the grassroots organization established by Corbyn ally Jon Lansman to support his leadership, writing that “either we get rid of that cult or we become the cult ourselves.”
We have suffered a heavy defeat, and I take my responsibility for it.
Whoever becomes the new leader, our movement will continue to work for a more equal and just society, and a sustainable and peaceful world.https://t.co/og7y8YbgWd
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) December 14, 2019
Jewish groups have accused Corbyn of allowing a massive rise in anti-Semitism within the ranks of a party that was once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected to lead the party.
Much of the fear of Corbyn was spurred by revelations about his past record that have emerged since he became Labour leader. These include him describing Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”; defending an anti-Semitic mural in East London; and a seeming willingness to associate with alleged anti-Semites, terrorists, and Holocaust-deniers.
The party is currently being formally investigated by the UK’s anti-racism watchdog and a recent report by the Jewish Labour Movement found Corbyn himself had trafficked in anti-Semitism on at least nine occasions.
Agencies contributed to this report.