I am happy to share this facebook update despite the fact I have not joined, and will not be joining, the Labour Party. Other socialists need to make their own decisions. And whether or not you join, the left across the parties, sects, ghettos of the left, all across the United Kingdom needs to unite in defense of Jeremy Corbyn, promoting him at every opportunity on Twitter, radio phone-in shows, in the workplace, unions, wherever.
I have already seen one tweet point out that Frank Field helping get Jeremy onto the ballot paper proves his candidacy is meaningless. However, Frank Field will live to regret doing this. It is no less a nightmare for Liz Kendall. She can now now kiss her ambitions goodbye. It is also a nightmare for Andy Burnham. He now has a left-flank to protect: he will now have to EARN second-preference votes, and he will find this no walk in the park. If he carries on as he has been, he will enthuse no one, repelling Labour’s left-wing voters into the arms of the Greens, TUSC, etc.
Since Andy Burnham will have to tack left to pick up votes, that further shakes things up: there will be ripple effects inside the Labour Party, the trade unions, and the rest of our movement. In the medium to long term – even in the short term – parties to the left of Labour CAN benefit, counter-intuitive though that might seem. The beneficial effect will, initially, be indirect. Whether the left beyond Labour benefits at all depends on whether we play our cards right.
Those to the left of Labour absolutely cannot be seen to be in any sense responsible for Jeremy losing out to one of the right-wingers, including to Andy Burnham. There can be no united front between socialists to Labour’s left and Blairites or Tories like Liz Kendall or Jo Coburn.
The reality is that Tristram Hunt, Chuka Umunna, Ben Bradshaw and a hundred Labour MPs (most of whom merrily took blood money from corrupt war criminal Tony Blair) are probably already planning to go down the Shirley Williams route: splitting the Parliamentary Labour Party to help an ultra-right-wing Tory government. They will do that even if Andy Burnham wins the leadership on the back of trade unionists second-preference votes.
A split in the PLP is pretty much inevitable whoever wins, a split into more than two parties perhaps, some independents or moving directly to David Cameron, or maybe a UKIP MP or two.
The inevitability of a split in the Labour Party is a proposition I’ll defend despite knowing that Jeremy Corbyn won’t be able to echo it for the time being, and probably not concede it even as a theoretical probability until the splitters carry it out.
And that is why those to Labour’s left must adopt a sophisticated united front approach to a good Labour socialist like Jeremy Corbyn. That is why we cannot secretly hope he suffers electoral humiliation so some crumbs fall into the hands of small parties to the left, although that may turn out to be a silver lining we have to work with if and when it happens.
United we stand. Divided we fall, comrades. Everyone needs to debate rationally and with respect. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to this.