Alan Johnson: Labour will be 'dead and finished' unless Jeremy Corbyn goes

Posted On: 
17th September 2016

Alan Johnson has launched a furious attack on "incompetent" Jeremy Corbyn - and warned that Labour will be "dead and finished" unless he is eventually deposed as party leader.

Alan Johnson has launched a furious attack on Jeremy Corbyn

The former Labour Cabinet minister says moderate party members must seize it back from "middle class" left-wingers who see winning elections as a betrayal of their principles.

In an interview with The Times, Mr Johnson - who led Labour's anti-Brexit campaign - also cast doubt on whether Mr Corbyn actually voted for Britain to remain in the EU in the referendum.

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On Mr Corbyn, he said: "He is 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. 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."

On the Labour leader's huge popularity with party activists, Mr Johnson said: "It’s conducted mainly by middle-class people who are not going to feel any difference with changes of government

"The most vociferous Corbyn supporters are in swathes of East Yorkshire and Sussex and Surrey. They live very nice lives, they are harking back to their student days when they were occupying the chancellor’s office.

“It makes me really depressed and sometimes angry when I see some smart-arse 26-year-old saying, ‘We’ve always felt the Labour Party is a place of nasty Blairites but now Jeremy is there we’ve decided to give them the honour of our membership'."

The former union leader added: "It’s worse than self-indulgent, it’s . . . tyrannical. Loads of people get together and shout and scream at anyone who doesn’t believe. When you say at a meeting, ‘Tony Blair was a great prime minister’, or mention Harriet Harman, they boo. I used to go to loads of really tough union meetings, telling Liverpool strikers to go back to work. They always listened, they never booed.”

"The left-wingers see going into government as a betrayal. They are not interested in getting into power because victory is a bourgeois concept. These are the people who thought Nelson Mandela was a sell-out because he was magnanimous and worked with others."


​On Mr Corbyn's efforts during the referendum campaign, Mr Johnson said: "He was useless. We would put in speeches for him, ‘That’s why I’m campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU’, and they took it out every time. He would say, ‘That’s why Labour is campaigning to stay in the EU’."

Asked if he thinks Mr Corbyn voted Leave, he said: "I think he might have done. I wouldn’t be surprised but he was probably more neutral. The hard core of Seumas Milne [Mr Corbyn’s director of communications] and the people around him, they voted to leave, and John McDonnell I’m absolutely certain. In 1975 they thought the EU was a rich man’s club and that’s still what they think."

The Labour leader is expected to be re-elected to the post next week, but Mr Johnson said those opposed to him must not give up.

"They’ve captured the castle," he said. "Just as the Campaign group carried on year after year undermining whoever was the Labour leader to the best of their abilities, so we’ve got to do the same.

"We’ve got to recapture this party again otherwise it’s dead and finished and gone."