I have tried to cut myself off from politics since the election. Largely because I don’t want to be exposed to a country that saw fit to vote for the people it voted into power. My heart can’t take it. But recent goings on in the Labour Party have tugged me back in. The leadership election is looming, and the relatively new trend that became apparent during the Scottish independence referendum campaign and then the general election has coloured events almost from the off. The political establishment, it seems, has as little respect for democracy as it does truth, and this disrespect is the dominant characteristic out on the campaign playing fields where the dreary star players ply their trade. But few campaigns have had such a concentrated parade of nonsenses – much of it coming from people in positions of party ‘authority’.
The largest nonsense is that electing Jeremy Corbyn will signal the end of Labour, when clearly what is being expressed is the fear of the end of New Labour. So let’s just be clear about that. None of these voices either care, or really understand, what the Labour Party is. For the younger politicians you might give a pass – it’s been not far off a generation since the Labour Party actually stood for anything resembling its founding theories. But for the elders, it is just cynicism. To these people Blairism = power. That is the extent of the equation. (Forget, as they all do, that Blairism has actually only ever meant power for Blair; nobody else has ridden to Number 10 off the back of it, and it’s doubtful anybody else ever will).
An equally large nonsense is that a vote for Corbyn is a vote that will make the Labour Party unelectable. Corbyn may very well not win in 2020 if he is Party leader. But if he is made leader, the Labour members are electing a winner – an MP who actually increased his majority during Labour’s ass-kicking this May. But apparently the only way to win is to elect one of the people who just got their asses kicked as front line members of the Miliband campaign. If I thought political campaign arguments were things of logic, I might have wasted some time looking for some in that one.
I’ll reiterate, Corbyn faces an uphill struggle to win in 2020 (I think the Tories are digging deep enough trenches in the media/business/judiciary to be there for the next thousand years), but imagine the recent general election had Corbyn been Labour-leader – an anti-Trident, pro-industry, red-blood socialist – and then consider the significance of the Scottish swing back to Labour that would have inevitably brought with it.
Then there is this notion that the only important goal is victory in 2020. This is the most tragic nonsense. What this country needs, and what it needs RIGHT NOW, is a functioning, stable and principled OPPOSITION, a team of people that will fight to stop the Tories in their time travelling goose-step to the halcyon days of Dickensian England. In the general election, Labour did not ‘come second’, they lost. They were roundly stuffed. And that means they have a job to do; and that is to stand in Opposition. Campaigning for 2020 with four years and 8 months to go until the next general election, while the country is being picked apart by vultures, is vulgar and contemptuous of the British people.
In fact, such is the contempt for the democratic process by the other three (and the New Labour lizards who keep slithering around in the media), let me ask you this: when Liz Kendall called for a ‘cross-party pact’ to keep Corbyn out, did her rhetoric sound like Nye Bevan, or did she sound more like smug weasel Toby Young?
As scaremongering and doom-saying seems to be having no effect on Corbyn’s bandwagon, now we begin to see a valiant effort from the media and Blair-Brownites to sling mud. Corbyn we hear is a ‘friend’ to anti-Semites, pally with pro-Palestinians, and once had a back rub from Idi Amin. The accusations, which so far seem to have been muttered, would be serious if the volume were turned up; you have to wonder how stable they are if they remain only insinuation and innuendo. I find it hard to believe Corbyn’s opponents would not indulge in the hypocrisy of calling him out on these things if they felt it was sturdy stuff. Although I’d like to see the muscles trying to hold straight faces as former members of Blair’s team try and take a man down for his bad choice of acquaintances in the foreign affairs realm.
Burnham, Kendall and Cooper have as much chance of winning in 2020 as Lord Nelson has of getting his eye back. The country decisively rejected their centrist form of politics in favour of the more effective and focussed Tory machine. So perhaps this country is a right wing country, full of cruel, selfish, boorish, fingerwagging biggots. Well, so be it. Vote Tory. I can’t do anything about whatever Margaret Thatcher and the Daily Mail promised you in return. But if the Labour Party does not stand for the opposite of that, rather than just a grey-shade of difference and an alternative tie colour, then we have no-one in the next 5 years to stand up for the NHS and the BBC and a bagfull of other things that stand for goodness over greed. Burnham, Cooper and Kendall all recently abstained from voting on the government’s welfare bill, in an act of inertia (moral as well as democratic) aimed at making sure nobody can label the Labour Party the ‘party of welfare’. Well the welfare bill is an abhorrent, cruel, misogynistic piece of legislation. And shame on every one who didn’t stand up against it (out of all the candidates for both leader and deputy, only Corbyn voted against). As children starve, you ask yourself if those children would have preferred someone to fight their corner now, or for someone to aim to change things on the empty promise of coming to power in 2020?
If the Labour Party is out of fashion with the trends of the UK voters that is not a reason to change the values of the party, as many voices seem to be suggesting. If anything, it is the reason to strengthen them. The Labour Party needs to realise that being right is more important than anything else. And Jeremy Corbyn is the only candidate who is not wrong.