Interviewer: So how did you feel when three quarters of your MPs voted no confidence in you.
Jeremy Corbyn: I was not in the least bit surprised. If anything I was relieved it wasn’t more. Not because I am incompetent…or at least no more incompetent than anyone with no prior experience of leadership, who has suddenly been catapulted into a major leadership role. Of course I’ve made mistakes, and I’m willing to learn from them. But it wasn’t a question of incompetence that drove MPs to lose confidence in me. They were never willing to give me a chance from the get go. They campaigned and voted for other candidates in 2015…and couldn’t reconcile themselves to my sudden rise to power. I was on the fringes of the party for thirty years, and that’s where I was expected to stay. My victory was not in the script and they were shocked and horrified by this sudden plot twist.
Some argue that those on the soft left had been open to giving me a chance, as a way of giving credence to the coup, but that was not my experience. Our four parliamentary by-election victories were underplayed by all wings of the party. As were the mayoralty wins. The London mayoralty was the only victory trumpeted as a great success, and that was only because my 172 detractors seized the opportunity to hail it as a win for triangulation style centrism, rather than my brand of socialism. Had Sadiq been a Corbyn supporter, and still won, the win would have been attributed to the shoddy, dog whistle campaign ran against him.
The 8% swing to Labour in the Local elections from the 2015 General Election result was similarly underplayed, or worse, spun as a catastrophe by all wings of the party. And it was all wings of the party who sat in stony cold silence every time I stood up at the despatch box. I did not lose their support. I never had it, and couldn’t break through the intractable hostility against my leadership, to acquire it. Knowing the coup was inevitable, most MPs saw me as the dead leader walking, convinced I would resign when the coup was eventually enacted.
One final point I’d like to make. Only 20 MPs supported my candidacy to be leader in 2015. To reach the all important 35 needed to get on the ballot, 15 MPs had to lend me their support. Yet 40 MPs voted confidence in my leadership this June; an increase of 100%. Now we have got the second leadership election in a year out of the way, I hope even more MPs will be prepared to accept, and even embrace my leadership; an acceptance I can understand them initially struggling to reach when they were looking on it as a temporary blip, before the resumption of normal service.
So to go back to your original question. I would have much preferred this Summer to never have happened, but seeing as I always knew it was coming, I almost feel a sense of relief it’s out of the way.
Now I hope we can at last unite to fight the Tories.
by Chelley Ryan
feature meme via Jenny King