In this week's New Statesman: The art of lying

Robert Trivers on self-deception | Jeffrey Sachs | Rob Brydon interview | Martin McGuinness

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In this week's New Statesman, evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, author of the foreword to Richard Dawkins's 1976 book The Selfish Gene, offers an essay on deceit and self-deception. From the absence of self-criticism that led to 9/11, to the psychology of faking orgasms and use of terms such as "collateral damage", Trivers describes the biological reasons why we alter information -- and how fooling ourselves allows us to convincingly lie to others.

Also this week, Rafael Behr finds the Prime Minister's diplomacy over the financial crisis compromised by the latest campaign -- led by members of own his party -- for Britain to leave the EU. Behr writes that Cameron and Chancellor Osborne "can be responsible European statesmen . . . Or they can be heroes to their party. They cannot be both." Sophie Elmhirst travels to Dublin to join Martin McGuinness on his presidential campaign trail and meets a man unable to escape his past, and, days after the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Mehdi Hasan reports on the 164 Palestinian children currently incarcerated in Israeli jails, asking: "If this isn't apartheid, then what is?"

All this, plus Laurie Penny on Occupy Wall Street, comedian and actor Rob Brydon on "Twitter lunatics" and Michael McIntyre, Jude Rogers on Jarvis Cocker's lyrics, and American economist Jeffrey Sachs in conversation with Jonathan Derbyshire on his new book, The Price of Civilization.

Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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Will Jeremy Corbyn stand down if Labour loses the general election?

Defeat at the polls might not be the end of Corbyn’s leadership.

The latest polls suggest that Labour is headed for heavy defeat in the June general election. Usually a general election loss would be the trigger for a leader to quit: Michael Foot, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband all stood down after their first defeat, although Neil Kinnock saw out two losses before resigning in 1992.

It’s possible, if unlikely, that Corbyn could become prime minister. If that prospect doesn’t materialise, however, the question is: will Corbyn follow the majority of his predecessors and resign, or will he hang on in office?

Will Corbyn stand down? The rules

There is no formal process for the parliamentary Labour party to oust its leader, as it discovered in the 2016 leadership challenge. Even after a majority of his MPs had voted no confidence in him, Corbyn stayed on, ultimately winning his second leadership contest after it was decided that the current leader should be automatically included on the ballot.

This year’s conference will vote on to reform the leadership selection process that would make it easier for a left-wing candidate to get on the ballot (nicknamed the “McDonnell amendment” by centrists): Corbyn could be waiting for this motion to pass before he resigns.

Will Corbyn stand down? The membership

Corbyn’s support in the membership is still strong. Without an equally compelling candidate to put before the party, Corbyn’s opponents in the PLP are unlikely to initiate another leadership battle they’re likely to lose.

That said, a general election loss could change that. Polling from March suggests that half of Labour members wanted Corbyn to stand down either immediately or before the general election.

Will Corbyn stand down? The rumours

Sources close to Corbyn have said that he might not stand down, even if he leads Labour to a crushing defeat this June. They mention Kinnock’s survival after the 1987 general election as a precedent (although at the 1987 election, Labour did gain seats).

Will Corbyn stand down? The verdict

Given his struggles to manage his own MPs and the example of other leaders, it would be remarkable if Corbyn did not stand down should Labour lose the general election. However, staying on after a vote of no-confidence in 2016 was also remarkable, and the mooted changes to the leadership election process give him a reason to hold on until September in order to secure a left-wing succession.

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