DANGEROUS HERO: CORBYN’S RUTHLESS PLOT FOR POWER
by Tom Bower (HarperCollins £20, 400 pp)
The rise of Jeremy Corbyn is one of the most amazing events ever to take place in British politics.
An unconsidered outsider who seized control of one of Britain great political parties, Mr Corbyn has galvanised a revolution against the system of cross party collaboration which governed Britain under Tony Blair and David Cameron.
This makes him an original and important figure. There is therefore a crying need for a serious and authoritative account of how Jeremy Corbyn got to the top, and what his victory means.
Biographer Tom Bower examines the life of Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) in the years running up to when he became the leader of the Labour party in a new book
Tom Bower, an experienced biographer who claims an expertise on the British far-Left, has produced interesting new material.
He tells in much greater detail than ever before the sad story of the failure of Corbyn’s second marriage, as financial problems obliged the future Labour leader to live in a separate bedsit from his wife and three children.
He has induced the former socialist Labour MP Reg Race to divulge hitherto unknown details of Corbyn’s financial problems in the 1990s as he naively attempted to fund a community centre in the heart of his constituency, with disastrous consequences.
But that’s tittle-tattle. Bower produces no serious analysis of any of the issues which make Corbyn noteworthy. What was it that made the Labour Party, a great institution dating back to Keir Hardie over 100 years ago, so vulnerable to takeover by the hard-Left?
Bower does not attempt to answer this very important question. Instead he relies on sneers and distortions, made much worse by numerous errors.
Bower claims, for example, that a certain ‘Cat Stevens, a 30-year-old bisexual republican’ was a supporter of Corbyn in the parliamentary Labour party. Presumably, Bower means Cat Smith, the MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood — not the singer. He asserts that Denis Healey was elected Labour deputy leader under Neil Kinnock. That would be news to Roy Hattersley, who actually won the contest.
Bower does make some fair points. He reasonably attacks Corbyn for ‘consistently inviting anti-Zionists to the Commons’ without giving any airtime to contrary opinions. He notes that Corbyn gives the impression he opposes only western military aggression, not aggression from our enemies. A fair, though not original, observation.
Tom who provides no references to his citations throughout the book in order to protect sources says Corbyn (pictured) is dedicated to destroying Western liberal society
Bower’s book is also marred by contradictions. On page 13 he accuses Corbyn of being ‘unable to engage in hard work’. On page 32 he describes him as ‘tirelessly active.’ Only one of the two can be true.
He frequently accuses Corbyn of being a Trotskyite. Elsewhere he states that Corbyn’s ‘personal commitment to Stalinism set him apart from most Labour Party members.’ Trotskyites and Stalinists hate each other, and Stalin ordered Trotsky’s brutal murder. Bower, who, with his knowledge of the far-Left, ought to know you can belong to only one of these two communist factions.
These errors and mistakes are especially important because — unusually for a serious biographer — Bower does not provide any references or citations in order (so he says) to protect sources.
Number of A-levels Corbyn passed, both at E grade
This means that the reader is obliged to take on trust a series of unreferenced claims, many of which portray Corbyn in a dreadful light. According to Bower, Corbyn excused the monstrous crimes of Argentine leader General Galtieri — notorious for engineering the ‘disappearances’ of tens of thousands of his political opponents — as ‘the price for liberating the Falklands from Britain’. A deadly allegation, but no evidence provided.
He asserts that Corbyn is ‘dedicated to destroying Western liberal society’. Once again, no evidence is provided.
He graphically portrays Corbyn’s right-hand man Seumas Milne, the Winchester-educated son of former BBC Director General Alasdair Milne and a former Guardian leader writer, as an instinctive, virulent anti-Semite: ‘In the presence of Jews his body language had visibly changed.’
No evidence or source is provided to justify this (if true) utterly damning allegation. Yet allegations of such force and magnitude should always be backed by compelling evidence.
DANGEROUS HERO: CORBYN’S RUTHLESS PLOT FOR POWER by Tom Bower (HarperCollins £20, 400 pp)
The book’s biggest intellectual failure concerns foreign policy. Any fair-minded observer must accept the Labour leader represents a challenge to the cross-party consensus which generated the Iraq invasion, the Libyan intervention, and the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.
Corbyn has a consistent record of opposition to the disastrous wars in the first dozen years of the 21st Century: Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Corbyn was right where Blair, Cameron, the Foreign Office, MI6 and the CIA got it wrong. Yet Bower gives Corbyn little credit.
Tom Bower is a distinguished author whose biographies of high profile businessmen, politicians and, most recently, royals (Prince Charles) frequently make headlines. His exploration of how Blair took us to war against Iraq and the subsequent whitewash was of particular merit — unlike this inaccurate hatchet job.