Azim on ‘mental health slur’ anger: ‘crank’ is common among ‘young high profile activists’

On Wednesday, LabourList published an article under the inflammatory, “The real battle for Labour’s soul? Lansmanites vs Cranks


As an article, its aim is fairly transparent – and it is not to promote unity among the Labour left. It has lazy and unevidenced assumptions in abundance and dismisses people on the wrong side of her manufactured divide as bigots.

Ms Azim talks of the left as ‘we’ and ‘our’, but in August 2016 she wrote:

Around 10 months ago, I decided my faith in Corbyn had waned, and that I’d lay my cards on the table and declare why I had decided to sod it…

I am standing here today because of that: because of the urgency, the sense of necessity that is not borne from ideology but desperation, of living life precariously, to urge you to vote Owen Smith.

I began Jeremy’s leadership with hope, but then came dread, watching the party under his stewardship abandon people like me.

Ten months before August 2016 is October 2015. Jeremy Corbyn was first elected as Labour leader in mid-September 2015. Ms Azim’s ‘faith in Corbyn had waned’ only a month or so after he was elected.

But in the same article, she went on to admit:

I cannot speak as a former Corbyn supporter.

‘Left’ is a flexible concept, clearly – even though most left members in the Labour Party would run a mile rather than be identified with Owen Smith.

The article also attempts to portray NEC candidates Peter Willsman and Ann Black as ‘Corbynite’ equivalents, muddying the waters for any members yet to vote who do not understand the importance of electing the ‘JC9‘ – of which Ms Black is not one.

However, some of the greatest outrage in response to the article has been its use of ‘cranks’ to describe the left that she considers undesirable – because many feel it has connotations that render it a mental-health slur:

crank response.png

The SKWAWKBOX contacted Ms Azim to ask for comment on the anger caused by her comments. She denied that the word has any negative connotations regarding mental health – but her response was also revealing in a different way:

No dictionary definition of ‘crank’ that I’ve seen mentions mental health.

I have suffered from mental health problems myself including anxiety and depression, my dad suffered from OCD, and I would not use a slur given my personal circumstances.

Crank is a common term used on [sic] the young high profile left wing activists.

It is not a slur by any definition and I do not recognise it as such. I would never recognise it given my circumstances.

Apparently there is a group that considers itself ‘the young high profile left wing activists’ – and they consider at least some others on the left ‘cranks’ and that the use of such words is unproblematic.

And as Ms Azim seems to consider herself one of the ‘young high profile’ group, as suggested by her defence of her frequent use of ‘cranks’ in her article, the membership qualifications seem not to include any particular commitment or adherence to the left of the Labour Party or to the leader who has taken the party back to being a genuine alternative to the Tories.

The left appears to need some new ‘young high profile’ spokespeople who have a better understanding of what left-wing is and a more demonstrable, down-to-earth commitment the grassroots left and the working class.

It’s to be hoped that Jon Lansman is preparing to distance himself from any self-identified elites – especially those with questionable track records as regards the left and its leadership.

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