Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Mr Corbyn, your application has been unsuccessful

Dear Mr Corbyn

Thank you for applying for the position of leader of the Labour party. You have transformed a dull, lifeless campaign into a vibrant battle for the future of our party. However, I regret to inform you that I will not be voting for you.

You will remember the key tasks and requirements for the role (see below). On some of these, you have blown the other candidates out of the water with your passion, your meaty progressive policy proposals and your ability to eloquently express opinions without resorting to cringe-worthy sound bites. But, it is on some of the essential requirements for the role that you come short.

Position: Leader of the Labour party


  • Unite the Labour party against oncoming storm of disastrous Tory policies
  • Win the 2020 general election
  • Govern effectively as prime minister



  • Proven ability to work as part of a team (essential)
  • Political governing experience (essential)
  • Broadly appeal to external stakeholders (essential)
  • Ability to express opinions like a normal person (desirable)
  • Roguish charm (desirable)
  • Award-winning beard (desirable)


Proven ability to work as part of a team

I salute the excellent work you have done as a backbencher, taking principled stands on issues from the Iraq war to Labour’s anti-terrorism laws. But, let us be honest, you are not exactly a team player. How can you, as the most rebellious Labour member of parliament, expect to command loyalty from the parliamentary Labour party as its leader?

We are not selecting a spokesperson, nor a dictator who can implement policies by decree. If you do become prime minister, without the support of fellow Labour MPs you would be a lame duck leader from day one. Your profound political differences with large swaths of the PLP would leave you exposed to constant rebellions by the large majority of Labour MPs who strongly oppose your leadership bid. Nearly half of the MPs who nominated you for leader have switched back to other candidates, and many members of the shadow cabinet have ruled out serving under you – even under your proposed system of elected ministers.

Political governing experience

You have been a fantastic MP for Islington North for more than 30 years, but you are totally untested at the leadership skills required to be prime minister. Elections are not just about who has the best policies – they are also about who voters trust to steer the ship. In the last election, despite agreeing with many of Labour’s individual policies, voters rejected the party in large part because they did not trust it to competently run the country.

Now, us Brits are not exactly known for being big risk-takers at the ballot box. ‘Go on then, let us vote for the radical guy with no proper experience of governing’ said no British electorate ever. Even Clement Attlee, Labour’s last truly radical prime minister, first cut his teeth with key cabinet positions, including wartime deputy prime minister, before getting the nod by British voters to transform the country.

Broadly appeal to external stakeholders

During this campaign, you have inspired and energised lefties, including me, all over the country, but to have any hope of winning the next election we need to reach out to a broad spectrum of the public, and yes, that includes those who voted Tory in May.

I do not believe it is necessary to abandon all traditional leftwing positions to win elections. From railway nationalisation to higher taxes on the rich, it seems the public are in favour of many progressive reforms supported by you. However, first we need to regain credibility on managing the economy, and combine traditional left-wing ideas with big-tent policies that also appeal to many of those who reluctantly backed the Tories.

Based on number-crunching by the socialist thinktank, the Fabian Society, ‘around four out of five of the extra net votes Labour will need to gain in English and Welsh marginals will have to come direct from Conservative voters’. To lurch left and give up on winning back Tory voters, focussing instead on those who voted for other leftwing parties and those who did not vote at all, would be a stunningly narrow strategy that would all but guarantee electoral oblivion.

Despite all these concerns, for much of the campaign I was really torn about whether to vote for you. You have bravely and eloquently proposed progressive ideas that I share, which other Labour politicians have been too afraid to defend in public. And I would love to see you in the dispatch box tearing in to David Cameron at prime minister’s questions.

But there are more important things at stake than my entertainment and sense of solidarity. If Labour lose the next election, it will not be middle class people like me who bear the brunt of more Tory rule. I believe in this case, voting compassionately also means voting tactically. I will cast my vote for who I believe can achieve the most as Labour leader, and that is not you.


Daniel Gross is an affiliate member of the Labour party


Photo: Simon Cunnigham

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Daniel Gross

is a Labour party member


  • The most challenging job in politics. Opposition Chief Whip under Corbyn (the pay isn’t to bad, at over £100K per year).

  • There will be a Corbynite majority in every CLP by Christmas. MPs can be deselected, or be saved from deselection by the mercy of Jeremy Corbyn. There will be no Third Way.

  • I would like to see all senior members of the party, past and present, stand together on one stage and say that the election of Jeremy would be bad for Labour and be bad for the country. As Liz Kendall said we must “put the country first”.

    If Jeremy does get elected then I am hoping for these outcomes…

    1. Whilst he is leader the other candidates will get a better chance to explain their policies in depth and shine in the run up to the next leadership election that must come before the general election.

    2. The new party members that he has brought on board will, hopefully, stay with us into the future.

    3. We embark on a real ‘informed’ debate about what the state can realistically do and how we might work collectively, collaboratively and cooperatively to build better state systems that can thrive in a capitalist country. We need that vision and hope that a better country is possible and it can only come through that debate. The debate MUST lead to a real exchange of ideas in an environment where willy-nilly state intervention and it’s outcomes are properly evaluated and rejected.

    In this dark time we have an opportunity to grow. Maybe that debate will be Jeremy’s legacy.

  • I’ll be necessarily brief, but leave you with a thought. Progress has previously stated we need to ‘understand’ why people vote UKIP or Tory and we need their votes to win. Yet, by the same token, we don’t apparently need to “understand” the votes of the left (or even centre left) or the votes of non-voters, nor understand why people are indicating their support for Corbyn in droves?

  • I think you may be waiting a long time for the first. And how is it, you need to ask yourself, that the leadership of the party is so massively disconnected from the membership ?

  • 1) Eh?? 2) Insofar as there is a difference, it will largely be due to being better informed, and having more responsibility to be right (in the sense of closer to reality). Take you, for instance: totally clueless. But that’s alright if, like you, you’re a no-mark down the pub.

  • Oh, someone who is unaware that 1) given that we ARE on the Left, it takes less work to understand others of a similar outlook 2) that the votes we need to gain are to the right, (despite having just read a piece in which this was noted, with a reference to the research explaining it). Just the kind of person who should be studiously ignored.

  • You very obviously shouldn’t have a vote. I’m not sure you should be allowed out unsupervised, given the extent of your divorce from reality.

  • Corbynistas are at least one of ignorant, stupid or mad. You’re a full house, you tinpot hard-man. To borrow from Bob Dylan, you see me coming, you better run: clearly impervious to intellectual humiliation, you would require another mode of discipline.

  • I have always doubted that elections are won or lost by success or failure at geting voters to switch from voting Tory to Labour or vice versa. It happens no doubt, but is far rarer than swing statistics suggest. What actually happens is differential turnout. What this means is that in a good year for Labour a higher percentage of those broadly, but in varying degrees of enthusiasm, supporting Labour actually turn out to vote, and a lesser percentage of those broadly, but in varying degrees of enthusiasm, supporting Conservative actually turn out to vote. Even if the overall turnout is unchanged, and not one voter literally switches from voting Tory to voting Labour, you still get “a swing to Labour”.

    So it’s a myth that Corbyn cannot lead Labour to victory in 2020. All he needs to do is enthuse a massive percentage of Labour leaning voters to actually go out and vote whilst lulling Tory voters into dispirited defeatism or complacency or whatever will reduce their tendency to actually vote.

    Now all this disregards the other parties which will still be around in 2020. Frankly I doubt the LibDems will regain that many of the seats they lost in 2015, and equally doubt that the Greens or Ukip will turn vote shares into seats. But if the propensity of Tory voters to turn out and vote, and they have a dogged track record of doing just this, renains strong, then the extra turnout of Labour leaning voters Corbyn will need to win in 2020 will be huge. It could be done, but it’s odds against.

    Will a more-of-the-same candidate do better? Frankly I doubt it. I sense that without Corbyn as Leader, Labour’s ability to get a high turnout will diminish. Never underestimate the power of a foot army. If Corbyn can assemble one and organise them, he could win.

    Frankly I think Progress has made a serious error in backing Liz Kendall. She has massive self-belief, an underestimated quality, but there’s an absence of achievement in her CV and a thinness of intellect in her policies which frankly I find shocking. And she doesn’t seem to grasp that accepting Tory policies is a one-way street; the Tories never adopt Labour policies in exchange.

    Will I vote Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper? Really, I have no idea, though more likely Andy thsn Yvette. Stella Creasy, Angela Eagle or Tom Watson for Depity Leader? Again I’m not sure, but more likely Stella, then Angela and then Tom. And as for London Mayor. I cannot think of a year when choosing was ever more difficult. Significant statistic: YouGov shows lower support for Corbyn amongst pre-May full members than £3 supporters or joiners since May. And those pre-May mrmbers are the actusl bedrock of the Party, rather than the foul weather friends of recent weeks. But can the polls be wrong when they say Corbyn might win on first preferences. If he does, having Tom Watson as deputy will make for interesting discussions in lifts. Even more so if Caroline gets elected as deputy leader.

  • Our Keyboard warrior extraordinaire Mr Jordan obviously seems to have some anger management issues as the page is littered with his (cough) incisive and cutting insults.

    Tip for the top, Matt, don’t insult the people you’re trying to persuade otherwise…unless the functions of your posts is to make you feel better

  • Daniel Gross you are a hypocrite because, like everyone else who is against Jeremy Corbyn winning the leadership contest, you have left out the most unpalatable aspect of Jeremy Corbyn – his support for “radical causes” (i.e. terrorism). Quite apart from that, compare his photo with David Cameron’s. How can an old man with a straggly beard win against smooth-faced, smooth-talking Cameron who will have almost the entire press behind him? The reason the left and centre-left are so enthusiastic about Corbyn is that they neither know nor care about his support for the kind of people who plant bombs on tube trains – or maybe they support them too.

  • I am not quite sure what the negativity in this article is contributing to genuine debate. Maybe that is not the point. Of course this sort of attack could easily be constructed for any candidate. What is the point? Do you wish to argue that no candidate has what is required? Because that is all that you have achieved.

    Progress will only show through in positive campaigns. Arguably this is why the Corbyn campaign is so successful. Even though you may not believe Corbyn, He is motivated by construction and the attempt to construct is evident, unlike his opponents. He is showing the true leadership qualities that Labour people want to see in his leaders. I would argue this article reflects more of what they do want to develop.

  • The article, which adds nothing to the discussion, is really not worth commenting on but who is matt Jordan? Obviously someone with too much time on his hands and endowed with the type of bullying mentality the Party can do without. By the way matt, now feel free to say what you like about me – I shall not be reading it.

  • That’s your opinion Gross. But ordinary members of the public who have voted Labour before & new members who LIKE Corbyn’s idea think differently. Thank you for your opinion but accept the opinions of the 300,000 who think otherwise. It’s called Democracy.

  • This frequently expressed idea that the PM has to “look” good annoys me. For me, Cameron looks like a slimey, bastard & he is certainly bringing in “nasty” laws & policies.
    I could not care less that Corbyn is old (at 66? How old are you?), has a beard (which is not straggly except in your eyes). I look for his policies & I like them. Of course the right wing press won’t like him. They are “paid” by that “smooth-faced, smooth-talking” Cameron.

  • So the PLP doesn’t like him. Tough. They can always go & join the LibDems & lose whatever chance they had of being in govt in 2020 Times have changed & many people no longer think B liar is the be-all-and-end-all of politicians.

    BTW the “desirable” qualities listed by Gross are really stupid. He clearly does not know much about writing a job description. .

  • Matt, you drooling leftie fool, Corbyn is going to walk this leadership election, he will win by a country mile.

    With my help.

    I hate the Nasty Party (Labour), and Corbyns triumph will be to destroy his party from within.

    Oh, and I loved this, “You very obviously shouldn’t have a vote”, that’s right, anyone who does not agree with you should be silenced.
    You really do belong in the Nasty Party (Labour) dont you.

    Vote Corbyn!

  • Vote Corbyn, lets work together to destroy the Nasty Party (Labour). With Corbyn at the helm SS Labour will be sailed full speed into an iceberg, and sink without trace.

    With no survivors.

    Vote Corbyn!

  • I don’t drool, but you teeter on the brink of incoherence. Obviously, if you hate the Labour Party, you shouldn’t have a vote on its leader. But what do I care what the likes of you do or say?

  • Good afternoon Drooler,

    “But what do I care what the likes of you do or say?”

    I think you care deeply, Corbyn will destroy the Nasty Party (Labour), I am merely helping to hammer a stake through its blackened heart, so the foul beast will never rise again.

    Vote Corbyn!

  • I care deeply about Social Democracy, which will be fine. I absolutely do not care about cognitively challenged no-marks like you.

  • Matt,
    face facts, Corbyn is going to romp home.
    He will then destroy the labour party, the infighting will be a joy to observe!
    The Nasty Party are finished, and it is not I but your good self who is cognitively challenged.

    Vote Corbyn, you drooling no-mark!

  • You are not ble to persuade others Matt, because you hold such ludicrous opinions, they are laughable like yourself.

    Vote Corbyn!

  • Yes. I feel so silly now, and not at all as if you are a pointless and moderately stupid individual.

  • The Nasty Party (Labour) were soundly thrashed at the last election, the electorate rejected them.

    The public do not want to hear any more lies about “bedroom tax” or “austerity”, that are pure fabrications, nor to be called “racists” whenever they question uncontroled immigration, or the membership of the undemocratic and disfunctional EU.

    It is now too late for the Nasty Party to learn these lessons, they did not listen to their membership, or to the public. They did not care.

    Corbyn will destroy the Nasty party, and for that I will be forever grateful.
    Hopfuly something better will be born from the ashes, perhaps the complete destruction of party politics. We must all work together to kill the Nasty Party, to ensure it cannot carry on ruining so many peoples lives.

    Vote Corbyn.

  • I am far from pointless Matt, I am working hard to convince as many as possible to vote Corbyn to destroy the Nasty Party (Labour).

    Vote Corbyn!

  • I hate the Nasty Party (labour), they are vile scum, who have done everything in their power to destroy the working class.
    They are a cancer.

  • Excelent! good to have you onboard, we will work together to hammer a stake through the black heart of the Nasty Party (labour).

    The vile hateful beast will never rise again.

  • Vote Corbyn, you imbecile, get behind the movement and help to destroy the evil Nasty Party (labour) forever.

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