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    Politics

    How Islington North became a symbol of the Labor Party's many problems

    Is the Battle of Islington North “Magical Grandpa's Last Battle”? Photo: AFP/Getty/Ben Stansall.

    It will be, in the words of one prominent Labor Party official, “Fairy Grandpa's last stand” – the moment when Jeremy Corbyn decides whether to take on the “Starmere army” to fight for Islington North. seat as an independent against the choice of the Labor leadership in the next election.

    Against the backdrop of a majestic, albeit sleazy, neoclassical town hall, the stage is set for a showdown in which the veteran leftist, who has represented his seat since Tony Benn's 1983 heyday, stood alone against the party . he joined it at the age of 16 as a young Marxist instigator.

    Banned by a leadership intent on proving that it has taken decisive steps to rid itself of a damaging electoral legacy of the far left, Corbyn nonetheless garnered support from the party's local branch this week.

    The proposal, which thanked the great badge-bearer and protester for his “commitment and service to the people” and stated that it was “the democratic right of members to elect our MP”, was accepted by all but one of the 60 members who voted (the other one abstained) at the general meeting on Wednesday.

    For Corbyn, the support of his left colleagues—Islington North, as one former chapter member put it, “is like a Trotskyist archipelago in a wide sea of ​​work”—is a signal that his personal “struggle” is worth fighting. After the meeting, he tweeted defiance: “I have spent the last 40 years advocating with my community for a massive redistribution of wealth. Property and power. This is something I will continue to do.”

    His website claims to be committed to political views of all kinds, mixing old and new motifs: anti-racism, anti-imperialism, LGBT+ rights, transportation, the environment, opposition to nuclear weapons and military intervention, trade union politics, miscarriage of justice, and more.

    'For the past 40 years, I have campaigned with my community. This is what I will continue to do' said Corbyn Credit: Clifford Ling

    'And more' increasingly includes a public feud with the leadership that succeeded him after Labor's disastrous 2019 debacle and the 'betrayal' of Keir Starmer, as one member of Corbyn's team put it succinctly when he served as Brexit spokesman in Corbyn's shadow cabinet. (Starmer favored a second referendum, to the chagrin of his pro-Brexit boss.)

    The relationship went from cold to toxic when Starmer tried to deal with the default anti-Semitism that lurked in the Corbin bush. and the worldview of its allies, shaped by hostility towards Israel and NATO.

    When the report of the Commission on Equality and Human Rights came out, in which the party under his leadership was held responsible for the persecution and discrimination of those who advocate the Jewish and/or Israeli cause, and blamed “factionalism” for shortcomings, Corbyn replied: “Although I do not accept all of his conclusions, I believe that his recommendations will be quickly implemented to help get out of this period.”

    And yet his fate was sealed.

    Starmer, who has shown a ruthless side in refusing old leftist promises and associations, has disqualified Corbyn from running as an official candidate.

    The application for a high place turned into a bloody internal retribution.

    The area has long been associated with the party's left fringe – the mayor's office, during the years of high unemployment under Margaret Thatcher, installed an electronic ticker with a national number and was notorious for its mismanagement of schools and services. Then, in the 1990s, with the rise of New Labour, Tony Blair lived in the leafy enclave of Richmond Crescent, just a short bike ride from Boris Johnson.

    The search is on for an official candidate who can deal a devastating blow to Corbyn's eventual return, and, in very Islington style, a successful professional entrepreneur is up against a trade unionist and appeaser party official.

    The favorite is Praful Nargund, founder of a network of clinics IVF, whose website has a picture of him smiling next to Keir Starmer.

    Nargund is in many ways reminiscent of Rishi Sunak, a brilliant and privately educated man with an entrepreneurial bent. He attended King's College School, Wimbledon and then studied law at Oxford before founding Fertility CREATE with his mother Greeta, a doctor from Bangalore. which he has grown with the help of private equity sponsors.

    He's also not afraid to jump into the national debate, tweeting after the National Conservation Conference, “Ignore the culture war from NatCon and ministers. The migrants are not to blame,” and chiding Swella Braverman for her tough immigration and asylum policies: “There is nothing British about this.” ” /> Jeremy Corbyn with his constituency banner in Parliament Square. Photo: Getty

    Nargund is a cunning operator who also retained the “old guard”. Blairith's still influential Labor Party men are on board, advising former Home Secretary David Blunkett on a report on how to upskill the workforce to keep pace with technological change.

    However, one potential contender who could change the course of events is Sam Tarry, a charismatic if divisive MP and trade unionist now (finally) recognized as a “kindred spirit” partner of Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner. His participation in the contest will bring drama to the door of the leader's office: Tarry, MP for Ilford South, was sacked as Labor Shadow Minister on Starmer's personal orders after being interviewed while picketing outside a railway station during rail strikes. supporting strikes despite the decree that Labor MPs should not join picket lines.

    He was subsequently expelled—to the fury of Rayner, who personally rebuked Starmer for the way he handled the case. Speaking recently at a fundraiser, she said it would be “an absolute tragedy.” if Tarry “was not a Labor MP after the next general election”.

    The Tarry-Corbin contest would be a “festival of the left,” as one Labor Party member in the constituency notes. But it's unlikely that Starmer would want to draw media attention to the two left-wing candidates vying for prominence. As such, a loyalist who is not too close to the top command but who can manage the effective infrastructure of Corbyn's campaigns on the ground is preferred.

    “All politics is local” as the old American saying goes, and Starmer enjoys the unwavering support of the free Islington Tribune delivered throughout the area (and thus another source of free publicity).

    The Terry-Corbin contest would be “a festival of left-wing wrestling,” as one Labor Party member in the constituency notes. Photo: David Woolfall. #39; the ruling (and often capricious) National Executive Committee and is considered the more “neutral” candidate if Nargund somehow fails to broker a deal. She supported Starmer's purge of anti-Semitism (and knows the inner workings of party tribunals as a former member of the disputes committee).

    But she shied away from a direct confrontation with the far left, noting in one of the reports from the NEC meeting in 2018, that “Jeremy reminded us that the government can fall at any time and we must be prepared.”

    Five years later, Labor is still waiting. One old feud unfortunately looks like it won't be repeated. Mary Creagh, the short-tempered ex-Wakefield MP who personally brought Corbyn to justice for his “narcissism” while posing for selfies with young people at Portcullis House in Westminster when he “should have apologized for stealing them” was expected to future”, was to face her nemesis.

    “It's one head-to-head pick, I'd pay money to watch,” the Labor aide jokes. But it is my understanding that Krieg was secretly advised by party selection groups to avoid direct confrontation, which insiders feared could turn into a skirmish and divert attention from Starmer's message that the party was now under his control. Instead, she will stand for election in North Coventry, the city where she grew up.

    Insiders feared insults and a distraction from Starmer's report that the party was now under his control. Photo: Getty

    Today, Islington North is what real estate agents would call a “vibrant mix” of opulent streets and plazas – Blair's former chief adviser-turned-communications mogul Tim Allan lives in Highbury, next to Clive Anderson, Cathy Burke and actress Rosamund Pike. Cheek by jaw, council estates, including the areas of Caledonian Road and Barnesbury West, rank high in deprivation rankings.

    Corbyn's power base for decades consists of local activists and loyal supporters on the estates. When I appeared with him on Question Time during his presidential campaign, we ran into almost all the politicians, but later, chatting over beers about the drug problem on the Islington estates, he was impressively briefed on the details of where the worst neighborhoods were and how different containment schemes work. Being dug into the terrain has its advantages.

    However, not all fellow travelers on the left think that an independent challenge is a good idea. Despite examples from Ken Livingston outmaneuvering the Blairites to run as an independent mayor, and one-offs such as broadcaster Martin Bell, who ran against immorality in the aftermath of the 1996 cash-for-questions scandal, a growing number of independents fail to score. than to succeed.

    John Lansman, a veteran campaigner who founded Momentum, the powerful grassroots movement that brought Corbyn to power, caustically suggests that his former boss should now “resign from parliament … to devote more time to politics.”

    And another senior county Labor official says the local party fiefdom doesn't reflect how the neighborhood has changed: “It's all the lawyers and advertisers who don't really like getting rid of capitalism – and the poorer people.” who don't get hung up every week on the Palestinians or stopping the war. He's a relic of the past, not the future, and people feel that.”

    Jeremy Corbyn speaks at the Sobell Recreation Center after the results Islington North Constituency in the 2019 General Election By PA/Joe Giddens

    There is also a potential upside for Starmer Corbyn being defeated by the party's confirmed nominee – it would be a symbolic victory for a leader who wants to focus on the center, not on the fringes of national opinion – and end the Great Leap Forward; which threw the opposition party back.

    With no firm pick date, Corbyn is staying at home in Islington, and a recent social media post sounded very much like a 'I won't be intimidated and silenced' campaign.

    Oh Jeremy Corbin, as the Glastonbury crowd once sang in that brief moment of Jezzamania. The magical left-handed grandfather seems to have one last fight. Luta Continua to the very end.

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