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OPINION - Will Jeremy Corbyn’s super-sized ego really scupper Sadiq Khan’s hopes to return as London mayor?

Jeremy Corbyn (PA) (PA Wire)
Jeremy Corbyn (PA) (PA Wire)

When will Jeremy Corbyn’s vanity — his most essential characteristic — run out? Still MP for Islington North but denied the Labour whip for stating that the problem of anti-Semitism under his leadership “was dramatically overstated for political reasons”, he keeps his supporters on tenterhooks with a constant drip of false hope.

Will he run as an independent in North Islington at the general election, possibly denying the party he once led the seat? (“I will not be intimidated into silence,” is his hint. But when is he is ever silent? Like Sir Thomas More his silence booms across Europe). Or will he run for London mayor as an independent?

There is fresh polling on this second scenario. It suggests that if Corbyn does run for mayor, he will siphon enough votes from Labour’s Sadiq Khan to let the preposterous Conservative candidate Susan Hall — “Susan. The one Sadiq Khan fears” — walk through the middle to victory.

It is possible because Corbyn prefers the romance of campaigning to the ashes of governance, which is too real

If it transpires — and it is possible, because Corbyn prefers the romance of campaigning to the ashes of governance, which is too real for him — this is a classic Corbynite move: a man punching himself and his cause in the face while claiming a stab in the back.

A Conservative mayor, and all that means for Londoners, cannot possibly be his fault. His main characteristic beside vanity is a reluctance to take responsibility for himself: vanity of another kind. Corbyn, pictured far right, presided over a blooming culture of anti-Semitism in Labour, and he has never taken responsibility for that. Yes, his political enemies exploited it. Does that absolve Corbyn from (partial) responsibility for the reanimation of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories in Britain? (It isn’t just him). Of course not. Is it conscious or not? I no longer care, just as he doesn’t.

I think the Corbynites are wrong — it was not his Socialism that toppled him. Socialism is the least offensive thing about him. It is, rather, his self-deception. All that kindness for those who believed in him and loathing for those who didn’t or hadn’t yet. In tone it was anathema to democracy. As with some on the Right, you feel they would blow it down in an instant if it wasn’t the form. Corbynism was really about self-renewal (it had no choice) and even in that it failed.

I suspect he will, in the end, prefer the embrace of his constituency, which he has represented for 40 years. He knows he is loved there, and he prefers a small pond where he is loved to a large one where he must defend himself; I add cowardice to vanity.

Corbyn, a man who never changes his mind — which is the main reason he is such a bad politician, though there are others — is oddly conservative. He is immobile, insular, necrotic even. And he has made — one cannot say renewed, because the opposite is true — the far-Left in his image. They would rather insult fellow voters than persuade them, and rather call Labour moderates fascists than work with them. They have made the far-Left irrelevant — yesterday’s Stop Starmer rally was ill-attended — and that is a greater tragedy than they know.

Don’t listen to the luvvies - London must be allowed to live

Movie stars of West Hampstead have aligned to prevent the construction of a new home near the cricket club. Emma Thompson, Imelda Staunton and others object to the demolition of a single-storey house and its replacement by a gilded modernist box commissioned by an AI mogul.

I’m all for class war and conservation but the average price in the road is £2 million and the building they seek to protect is a Brutalist shack. The “unique character of the area” they mention is common suburban Arts and Crafts and — I can say this, I lived in Kilburn for a decade — it’s West Hampstead not the Temple of Karnak.

I wonder, is it the noise of construction they object to — and the vulgar AI wealth? (AI being the mortal enemy of poetry).

I would say to the planning committee: don’t look to storytellers for a sense of proportion. London is a living city. Clear the ground.

Tanya Gold is a columnist