I have deliberately held back from writing straight away on the state of the labour party. I was of course displeased with the result, but needed time to digest the implications and watch events unfold before sharing my thoughts.
I cannot hold back any longer. I am sick to the teeth of being labelled a tory in drag, neoliberal, treacherous, complete with accompanying expletives. ‘Why don’t you just join the Tories mate?’ asks one member of a Labour affiliated page I am part of on Facebook. Sorry to disappoint him, but I joined the Labour Party in May and plan to stay a member for at least the near future.
Another Corbyn zealot seems bemused by my line of argument that one of the other three candidates will stand a greater chance than their leader of winning elections nationally, as none of them could muster anything close to the numbers of votes in the Labour leadership election. Wearisome as it has been swimming against this tide, I shall try and articulate why I think this is ludicrous logic.
Two hundred odd thousand people, many who joined the party with the specific intention of voting for Jeremy, is not a representative sample of either everybody that voted for Labour at the last election, let alone the country at large. I voted for the party at the last election, but not with any great enthusiasm, repelled as I was by Ed Miliband’s drift to the left and abhorrent 35% strategy. I am a centre left social democrat with an emphasis on the centre. Extensive research by the well-respected Jon Cruddas found that in many of Labours target seats, as well as those they relinquished to the Conservatives in England, people voted for the Conservatives in spite of being more predisposed to the more compassionate, social justice policies of Labour mainly due to perceptions of the Conservatives being more fiscally prudent, not throwing money at problems.
The Labour membership chose to ignore this data, as well as the first Conservative majority in over two decades, and instead revert back to politics of the comfort zone. What we now have is uncomfortable to witness and be a member of the same party in which it is occurring: a reverse McCarthyism. MP’s and members alike are being hounded and abused for not showing loyalty to the new regime. Dianne Abbott makes for a grotesque spectacle, a consistent rebel demanding that Labour MP’s do not rebel against a man who has made a career and gained a cult following out of rebelling.
Leftist columnist and Guardian article commentator alike spouts venom against the Parliamentary Labour Party, to them a malign force waiting to overthrow their revolution. These MP’s however are not in my opinion beholden to neither Corbyn nor his legion of supporters. They are rather to their consciences and constituents. It is not for an elected representative to blindly bow to mob rule within the party itself. They were not elected or re-elected on a platform that is much akin to Jeremy Corbyn’s, thus the majority did not vote for him, as is their right. Talk of mandatory reselections for ‘disloyal’ MP’s, backed not least by a much animated Ken Livingstone yesterday on The Sunday Politics, smacks of less a broad church, alternative party of government, but rather an inward facing, throwback to the eighties party of irrelevance.
The Labour Party is in dangerous waters, no party has a right to exist, and I feel that over the next few years it will discover this to its peril, and indeed to the peril of the millions of working poor and public servants dependent upon a centre-left government being in office. In the meantime, we, the forty percent who did not back Jeremy Corbyn, must remind his more overzealous standard bearers that is our party too, relish the abuse, ridicule and slime as vindication of our moral pragmatism, our touching of nerves of those that value abuse over debate.