If I were Owen Jones, I would be rather annoyed that Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire got Left Out published before This Land: The Story of a Movement. When I read both, in the order of release, with Jones’s book I felt like I had read it all before.
Jones, unlike Pogrund and Maguire, is a participant in the movement. He was one of the few columnists in the mainstream media to support the Corbyn leadership. He started his career working for John McDonnell and alongside Andrew Fisher. He makes clear in the book that he rates both of them highly. He sees McDonnell as Labour’s lost leader.
But Jones’s tale of Corbynism from Miliband through to Starmer is still focused on the same kind of inner-circle to-and-fro that Left Out describes. It sets out to be the story of the movement, but where the membership are mentioned it’s for our canvassing and attending rallies.
Like Left Out his book tries to suggest Seumas Milne, another figure Jones clearly respects, is not a Stalinist — and then lists a number of his political positions which clearly mark him out as one.
But he does understand the inner dynamics of the party membership better than Pogrund and Maguire, and his chapter on the antisemitism crisis explains the political failings of Corbyn on the matter, rather than putting it all down to disorganisation or incompetence.
Jones also accounts for his own wavering over the Corbyn project, something which the ultra-loyal Corbynites still regularly haul him over the coals for. This Land does treat political debate and difference seriously, in a way that was largely missing from “Corbynism” from the start.