Monday, 27 June 2016

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Jeremy

Hard truths. In essence that is what the tangle for Labour has now become. I wrote here only days ago of how the party I have supported since my teenage years had become disconnected from the people that it sees as its core supporters, less a brilliant piece of incisive political assessment on my part and more an obvious glaring fact to anyone paying more than cursory attention to the situation. It has been there in the language, we 'hung on' in local elections, we should 'stop moping' over the EU referendum according to our leader. We should get behind the democratically elected leader, the overwhelming choice of members and supporters, we should ignore the slide and collapses and lack of any real sense of direction, bunker down, blame Laura Kuennsberg and the Murdoch press and then.....what?

For the simple truth is that Jeremy Corbyn will only ever win an election to be leader of the Labour Party. For some on my timelines that seems to be enough. Control of a dying entity trumps the opportunity to create real, lasting change in the country. Those cadres so keen on emphasising their loyalty to the leader increasingly remind me of diehards throughout history who fail to see that the game is up with the people because their people are self referencing and removed from reality. When the PLP, the people whose role is to make Labour an electable force, to fulfil the basic reason for a political party, to win elections and govern, dare to point out that a Corbyn led Labour cannot and will not affect such a change, they are derided as traitors and scum. This is the language of the fundamentalist. This is the fragmentation of theory, the race to be ideologically pure over the race to be significant, that has been the downfall of the left throughout history. It did for Ramsay MacDonald,  it ruined Labour throughout the 80s and its back again in all its glory.

Anyone can see that Labour is assailed from both sides. In Scotland the SNP took their socially driven policies, added a dash of anti-Westminster and wiped them out. In the rest of the UK UKIP took their working class credentials, went into communities and talked untruths to them in their own language and are rapidly becoming the voice of the people. There has been plenty of time yet no sign that a Corbyn led Labour party can deal with these mortal threats. What we have had is a 'new approach' to politics that retained its novelty for weeks and lacked bite from that very first Prime Minister's Questions, a poorly executed attempt to reset the dial that ended in a 'will this do' shrug and that increasingly tiresome response that blames our own side for plots and destabilistaion when anyone dares to suggest that a country on its knees requires more than reading out letters sent in from John from Grimsby to sieze the agenda and put us back in the frame.

For, outside of the MP driven campaigns like Stella Creasy's pursuit of pay day loan sharks, what has this New Old Labour delivered? What will it be remembered for? Fights over Trident, throwing Mao's Little Red Book at the Chancellor, failing to recognise that a dress code for public events might actually be a small price to pay to rescue the country from the worst excesses of right wing Toryism. Sitting on the sidelines shouting about purity whilst all around it chaos. And now, the most lacklustre performance by a leader in a campaign of international importance that saw swathes of Labour areas fall to what was, essentially, a pro UKIP vote. The enduring narrative of Corbyn's leadership is the wrong approach at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. Why is anyone surprised that MP's are at breaking point? Like the Leave voters of the post industrial areas of the UK, what exactly have they got to lose?

This is now a battle for a viable Labour party. Members and supporters need to consider whether they want a Labour party that is a real force against what is coming, probably the most right wing administration I have ever seen in my life, or a Labour party that retreats to London and liberal major cities to eke out its dying days in ethical purity and declining influence. Like many, I voted for Corbyn. Like (I hope) many I now see my mistake. When we have created a fairer society the politics that Jeremy stands for can become our goal, for now we are in a street fight and that requires more than thought, it requires action. 

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