I know every editor says this, but I really do try to read and respond to as many of your letters as possible. The emails concern familiar subjects: coverage of Israel, austerity, whether or not to call Isis “Isis”, favourite columnists, creeping royalism.
But nothing has outraged my regular correspondents quite like our coverage of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. One editorial from November (“Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour isn’t working”) met with particular fury – though thankfully little of the smug self-righteousness and venom of many Corbyn supporters online.
I take all this, if I may, as a compliment to the paper: it shows you hold us to very high standards. Given this newspaper was invented to improve British democracy, that’s no bad thing. Our approach, which favours allegiance to truth over tribe, and which is not beholden to any political party (unlike many newspapers), is to keep you informed with all the pertinent facts, express our own opinion on the page opposite, offer expert analysis, and let you make up your own mind. That’s the spirit of The Independent.
In that very spirit, I want to record today what I hope will strike you as nine simple, salient observations about the current state of the Labour Party. I write them while highly conscious that, a couple of months ago, Corbyn told a press gallery lunch that he gets most of his news by reading The Independent. Here goes:
1: Corbyn’s approval rating currently stands at minus 39.
2: Some polls suggest Labour support is dipping toward around 25 per cent.
3: Scotland, and with it probably around 59 parliamentary seats, is almost certainly lost to Labour for many years.
4: Tory boundary changes will cost Labour another 20 seats.
5: Labour lost the election because its leader was not liked and it wasn’t trusted on the economy. Today, it has a leader whose approval ratings are lower than Ed Miliband’s, and is less trusted on the economy. On top of that:
6: This week the party lost perhaps its sharpest policy brain, Neale Coleman, because of an internal feud.
7: The Tories are arguing about Europe, but only the Lords have laid a glove on them.
8: The parliamentary party disagrees with the new membership about everything other than that Tories are scum.
9: I hear whispers that Momentum, the grassroots movement, is witnessing its own bout of internecine warfare.
Corbyn is a very admirable man, who happens to be my MP. As a democrat, I want to see an effective Opposition. But, dear readers, please don’t be outraged when we point out – again, and with fresh evidence – that, right now, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party isn’t working.