My main problem with the current situation is how those who disagree with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership went about the business of trying to change things.
Instead of picking one or more representatives who would declare their candidacy and trigger an election in the usual way, they tried to force the issue, very publicly.
In doing so they made the Labour Party look ridiculous. They also showed complete contempt for the judgement and wishes of those who had elected Jeremy Corbyn the previous year and, as has been shown by CLP nominations, contempt even for members of their own constituencies.
Their main grievances seem to centre around a culture of ‘bunker’ mentality with a lack of communication and cooperation. I can see that this would create a difficult situation but also see that there is probably a lot of projection going on.
It was obvious from the outset that Jeremy Corbyn’s more left looking stance would not be popular with MPs who had grown accustomed to the, in my opinion, uninspiring, middle of the road approach of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband. (Ed Miliband was a complete surprise given that his father was Ralph (Aldophe) Miliband, a dedicated Marxist).
What they were unable to see was that the Party’s popularity with the British public had been declining steadily since 2001. The claim that all parties were as bad as each other was commonplace. Many people became disengaged from politics feeling that whoever they voted for it wouldn’t really make much difference to their lives. So they didn’t bother, they just accepted that life was a series of disappointing struggles followed by becoming resigned to the situation and ceasing to hope for anything better.
In September 2015 the division between the PLP and the majority of the members of the Party became glaringly obvious. While the PLP were still clinging to the belief that they could find another Blair to take them back into power, the electorate had suffered more and more from the austerity being imposed on them and were looking for something or someone completely different. Someone who could inspire them to hope that politics wasn’t just about expecting more of the same. They didn’t want another Blair they wanted radical change which would put the largest demographic i.e. the approximately 60%* of the population with an income under £30k, back in charge of their own destiny.
Those in the Labour Party chose Jeremy Corbyn as the voice of change. It’s no coincidence that his voting share was almost 60%, the thousands that voted for him were representative of the UK as a whole. Pretty much the best sampling any pollster could wish for.
The EU referendum was the next test. Many were disappointed that the Labour Party opted for Remain. Not because of the immigration issue as you would think if you believed the moral panic generated by mainstream media, but because the EU represented more austerity, more loss of self-determination, more loss of self respect.
Jeremy tried gamely to keep the message on track, trying to make people see that it was the Tories who were using the EU as an excuse for their own bad policies and that we should try to change the game from within, but even he was defeated in the end when Juncker declared that no more ‘reform’ was possible, that Cameron had got all he was going to get. Which was very little to be fair. Cameron knew this, kept it to himself and played the whole nation. None of it was anything near what was needed, none of it was backed by any guarantees and all of it is now off the table following the vote to leave.
To use that as a pretext for trying to depose Jeremy Corbyn as leader was the lowest of the low. The rebel MPs hadn’t wanted him from day one and the rebel frontbenchers took their jobs under false pretences. They had been given their briefings and told to run with them. To come back saying they had no support, were denied meetings, that their leader was inaccessible just shows their weakness and that they were being deliberately obstructive.
Owen Smith wanting recognition for going up against Ian Duncan Smith, as he said last night at the Hustings, is a perfect example. Why should he need extra kudos for just doing the job he was given? The rebels had their jobs, they are grown adults who volunteered to serve their constituents and the country, could they not just do their jobs without needing constant reassurance from the leadership team who had their own job to do? Of course they could, but they chose not to do so, continually demanding attention and making things as difficult as possible for the leadership team. I can understand the ‘bunker’ stance in such a case. Just wanting them to get on with their work, leaving the leaders to get on with theirs. I used to feel that way when my children prevaricated about doing their chores because they thought if they harassed me enough I would give into their demands to do something else.
The fact that they deliberately and consciously rejected these very responsible positions does not speak in their favour either. Why would any true Labour member give up the opportunity of making a difference in the lives of their constituents and the country as a whole. Why would they turn their backs on the very people who elected them just to make a point? Well we know from various interviews and tweets that a number believe that they alone should be able to choose their leader, just as they did back in the last century before the rules were changed to include the wishes of the people they represented. Combine that with their absurd belief that they need another middle of the road leader to regain power and we have the answer to this mess. They are out of touch with the needs of those they are supposed to represent. They are putting their own personal preferences before the needs of the country.
The British electorate, in all parties, have woken up. They don’t want more of the same policies which have lead to the present state of greyness throughout, they want a guiding light. That guiding light for the Labour Party is currently Jeremy Corbyn. At some point he will pass on the responsibility to someone else, but that time is not now. We need him first to show the way because he has the courage of his convictions and is true in his belief that there is a better way, we do not need someone who will sit down in the middle of the road once elected and wait for the greyness to overtake everything again.
*A New Model of Social Class? Findings from the BBC’s Great British Class Survey Experiment http://soc.sagepub.com/content/47/2/219.full