The current situation in the Labour Party reminds me of what happened in 1980-83, especially with people posting pictures of the huge rallies which Michael Foot used to have, with dire warnings about how it all went wrong for him.
Michael Foot took over, in 1980, from James Callaghan who resigned having lost a vote of no confidence. When he in turn resigned, in 1983, he was followed by Neil Kinnock. All three were beaten by the Conservative Margaret Thatcher in General Elections. Callaghan in 1979, Foot in 1983 and Kinnock in 1987. Kinnock, unlike his predecessors, didn’t resign after losing the General Election, he continued on but lost again in 1992 to John Major.
Foot’s leadership of the Labour Party, and bid to become PM, failed, partly due to division in the Party* and partly due to receiving terrible Press. He was consistently portrayed as unelectable, unrealistic, shabby, awkward and politically extreme i.e. too far to the Left – sound familiar?
His supporters were branded as ‘Trots’, entryists, thugs, militants, hard left and sandal-wearing peaceniks, all the things we are hearing again now.
At that time there was no internet so people relied entirely on what they were told on television and in the newspapers.
Politics was also fairly polarised then, almost a two party system with the Liberals fading and the newer parties having relatively low numbers. (My favourite of these was the Monster Raving Looney Party with Screaming Lord Sutch)
However, the political system is very different now, more Parties, better communications via social media and, most importantly, the British people have finally woken up to the fact that not all politicians are the same, there is an alternative to the rubbish they have had to put up with for years and they have found their voice. This voice is solidly behind Jeremy Corbyn and his allies. Hopefully, it will keep cheering them on and will be particularly loud on the day he walks through the door of No.10.
* some MPs didn’t want either Michael Foot or Dennis Healey, didn’t like how the Leader was elected, because it was no longer just the decision of the PLP and didn’t like Foot’s policies, such as getting rid of all nuclear weapons. They split from Labour and formed the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which had a few of years of steadily declining fortune, then became part of what evolved into the LibDems. There was another Owen mixed up in that, David Owen, who led the SDP for four years until 1987, then resigned when they merged with the Liberals to become the Social and Liberal Democrats.