I am currently in a strange place with regards to my relationship with the Labour Party. I am a member of it, but cannot in good conscience say I am a supporter of it. I did not join the party feeling it was the embodiment of all that was good in the world versus all that was ill, but rather to contribute my vote towards candidates who I thought could revive the fortunes of the twice defeated, mainstream left of centre party we have.
Party politics is a strange thing. It is my genuine belief that the majority of people who lend their votes to parties do so not out of any great conviction or love for them, but rather out of pragmatism, fear or force of habit.
I neither voted for nor joined the Labour Party out of sentimentality. I believe it is the largest and best vehicle to alleviate poverty and create equality of opportunity as far as the limits of our free market, service sector economy allows, providing it stands on a social democratic, radical centrist platform that does not represent a great shift to the mainstream voter. In England the vote was for continuity against the perceived shift that Ed Miliband represented. It is as given then that Corbyn will represent an even greater shift, and will thus not be given the keys to Downing Street.
I do not define myself as a socialist. Even if I did though, I like to think that I would be a pragmatic one who respected, rather than derided the decision of the electorate, such derision being extremely prominent amongst the Corbyn acolytes. Looking at the rough voting numbers of the larger parties, let’s look at the centre to centre right ones who advocate to various degrees free market capitalism. The Conservatives, Lib Dems, UKIP and the two Northern Ireland Unionist parties scored collectively nearly 18,000,000 votes. On the left of centre the parties who were to varying degrees more social democratic to socialist and critical of capitalism, Labour, the Greens, the Welsh and Scottish Nationalists, The SDLP and Sinn Fein amassed under 11,000,000 votes. This is far from an exact science. There will have been a good proportion of Liberal voters who lean to the left, UKIP ones who abandoned Labour particularly in the North out of social concerns, Unionists who vote with religion in mind rather than economics. With the left parties though nuance is required. On some matters like personal and business taxation the SNP were to the right of Labour. Meanwhile there will have been an element of the Labour vote that like me were to the right of Ed Miliband but voted for it nonetheless.
There is a majority, a clear majority, for capitalism amongst the electorate. Thus, if I was a self-defined socialist, I would wake up fairly quickly and smell the coffee, try and create an electable party that applies socialist principles to the realities of the economy and public will, rather than try and will socialism into being.
It’ll be no surprise to know that I left the box next to Corbyn’s name blank on my ballot paper. I believe that he is poor leader in terms of his economic policies and poor leadership, two criteria that Ed Miliband always trailed Cameron by, and which Corbyn also endures significant deficits with. I also find his diagnosis of many of our domestic and foreign problems to range from the delusional to downright amoral. What I dislike even more though is the nature of by no means all but nevertheless a significant proportion of his followers a cult like, uncritical and hostile attitude to any who differ. I have been called many names for merely voicing my concern that Corbyn’s leadership represents Conservative rule in perpetuity, but I have seen and heard others, not least the hated Liz Kendall, called far worse. The loathsome Momentum movement, the brown shirts of Corbynism, bully and intimidate on the leaders behalf, though not on his public behest mind, Livingstone and McDonnel make the public proclamations against the hated dissenters, be they respected MP’s and former ministers to lowly members like myself.
I shan’t leave though, at least not yet. I have masses of respect for those who find the party in its current form an anti-pluralist, inward facing focus group, and have thus left after many years. I rather like being a passive dissenter, accepting if not endorsing the current direction, however suicidal, of the party. I know the Corbynista’s lay awake at night wishing the likes of me was purged from the parties midst. I shan’t be pushed away by such thugs; I would rather stay and be counted as a moderate, to remind them that however big the mandate he received, it was by no means universal, that Labour is at its best when it adopts a universal, big tent approach, and be able to voice these views with clarity and respect when surveyed by the party or in attendance at its events and meetings.