I might change my vote

Jeremy Corbyn election infobox 2

I've made two political bets in recent years. We're days away from finding out whether or not I was right, last December, to bet $10 that Donald Trump will win a second term (I very much hope I lose that one). The other bet I've lost already. My son has forgotten this but when Theresa May became Prime Minister in 2016 I confidently predicted that the next occupant of 10 Downing Street would be Kier Starmer.

Tragically I was wrong on that one and we're saddled with the Cummings-Johnson regime but I was right on one thing: that the then leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, would never be Prime Minister. I remain hopeful that Kier Starmer will be.

What's wrong with Corbyn? He's a thoroughly decent man who has devoted his life to helping others. He is not a racist. He, famously, has been prepared to talk to terrorists and their sympathisers. This is not because he supports their cause, and certainly not their methods, but because he wants to understand their grievances so that those grievences can be addressed. The Troubles ended because governments talked to terrorists. One of the terrorists became deputy first minster. Under his leadership, Corbyn massively increased the membership of his party and, for a while, achieved cult-like status, notably with an appearance at Glastonbury.

So, again, what's wrong with Corbyn? Why did I not vote Labour at any level of government while he was leader? I voted Green, I voted Lib Dem. But I could not support a party led by Corbyn.

Decency is a necessary condition to secure many people's vote, which is why so many of us fervently hope that the Trump presidency is an aberration, but it's not sufficient. A leader needs to show a wide understanding of the status quo and to provide a credible vision for how to make things better. Among many skills, a leader needs to heed any warnings received that there is a serious problem within their own party. Corbyn passes the decency test but that's all. His vision was never credible. His failure to recognise the problem of antisemitism within his party was his biggest.

As ever, Jonathan Freedland provides an excellent commentary on Corbyn's failure to tackle the problem of antisemitism in the Labour party. Freedland includes an examination of why Corbyn's response to the independent inquiry inevitably led to his suspension from the party. In my view, had Kier Starmer not suspended Jeremy Corbyn following such weasel words then Starmer's abilities as leader would be under serious question too. But he did, previously having got rid of Rebecca Long-Bailey. Not because she's on the left of the party but because, like Corbyn, she signally failed to recognise antisemitism when it stared her in the face.

The left of the Labour Party is, of course, crying foul, seeing this as a plot to silence their view and discussing whether resigning is the right thing to do. All of which completely overwhelms the inquiry's finding: the Labour Party has had a serious problem with antisemitism and, to an extent that may be criminal, Jeremy Corbyn and his team didn't do enough to stop it.

I think we have local elections here in May 2021. Let's see how this plays out. I might be able to vote Labour for the first time since Ed Milliband stepped down and, sadly, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper were overlooked as his replacement.