The Independent London Newspaper
27th February 2017

NEW JOURNAL COMMENT: Corbynmania undiminished, but these are dangerous times

    Jeremy Corbyn supporters gathered in large numbers at Kentish Town Forum this we

    Jeremy Corbyn supporters gathered in large numbers at Kentish Town Forum this week

    Published: 14 July, 2016

    THERE was such a spring to Jeremy Corbyn’s step as he seized the microphone at the Forum.

    The man just keeps on bouncing back despite the mauling he endured in the House of Commons – from both Cameron and his own backbenchers. His main union backer, Unite’s leader Len McCluskey, recently described Corbyn as a “man of steel”.

    As he stood in front of his adoring followers, they yelled, chanted and banged their feet. We covered his rallies last year and you could not say then that he was an orator. But there was a such a kind of evangelical zeal oozing from him at the Forum that his speech, for the first time perhaps, had a ring of oratory about it.

    But what does this and all the other speeches amount to if Labour cannot win the next general election? With the “permanent” loss of Scottish seats, the threat of Ukip in Wales and the North, its chances are at best diminished, at worst bordering on impossibility. On the night, none of the arm-pumping, yelling crowd seemed to care about that. The opponents on Labour’s National Executive Council had been beaten. Nothing was impossible.

    There was also a very short, but influential speech by Dave Ward of the Communi­cation Workers’ Union. His comments about Corbyn were much to be expected, but he also referred to times that were “momentous” and “dangerous”. 

    Of course what he meant by that is open to questions and interpretation. But these are, certainly, dangerous times for Labour. The party, as it is now, is facing extinction. The next few weeks will give the answers.

    Athlone House – a great victory

    IT has been a few days since a great victory in the long-running battle to restore Athlone House.

    The new owner of the multi-million-pound Victorian mansion has been met with delight by the campaign group that has spent 18 years battling to save it from demolition.

    The historic building and wild, untamed beauty of its Heath-side grounds will not be lost on anyone taking a tour this week.

    Camden would be a far poorer place without its groups of dedicated volunteers, like the Athlone Housing Working Group. Without their lobbying and downright stubbornness, the developers may have run-amok. They must be congratulated. 

    Camden’s architectural rarities are what make the borough such an interesting place to live and work. 

    They will survive only as long as there are people with the faith left to fight for it.