Isabel Hardman concludes her report of yesterday’s Parliamentary Labour Party meeting in a way that clarifies just about everything: the overwhelming majority of those MPs have zero commitment to their own members or voters, are in fact little more than an appendage to the David Cameron wing of the Conservative Party – a fact that may point towards a grand coalition government before the next general election, one comrprising a majority of Labour MPs, the anti-Brexit wing of the Tories, Ulster Loyalists and Liberal Democrats.
There was an interesting division in the Labour MPs I spoke to this evening. And it wasn’t over whether or not to abide by the instruction to keep the meeting off the record. All agreed that it was a miserable show. But some were miserable that it was miserable because they are desperately worried about their party. Others are grimly pleased that this first session between the leader and his parliamentarians went so badly, because it helps their mission to persuade as many members of the PLP as possible that something must be done sooner rather than later.
That was Comrade Hardman’s Spectator Blog here: http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/02/labour-mps-walk-out-of-party-meeting-as-corbyn-tries-to-enforce-message-discipline/
This is interesting from a variety of perspectives. 100% of the MPs she spoke to said the meeting with their leader was miserable. Didn’t she speak to any Corbyn loyalist, or isn’t she interested in them, or is she saying they don’t exist inside the parliamentary Labour Party, or they refuse to speak to her? How many of these MPs flouted the instruction for not bad-mouthing the party leader, cowardly giving off-the-record briefings so their constituency Labour Party couldn’t discipline them for helping the Tories? Are 100% of Labour MPs in David Cameron’s pocket? That’s not quite the case obviously, but it can’t be too far off. Even those MPs who don’t want to betray their members seem to do so due to sheer incompetence. Not all of them, but some just can’t help themselves.
Isabel Hardman detects divisions within the Parliamentary Labour Party, and they matter to Jeremy Corbyn and the overwhelming majority of the members who back him with enthusiasm, and with a deep respect that borders on… love?
The reality is that Jeremy Corbyn has earned an affection that is extremely unusual in politics. This is a man who is not a careerist. During the laedership election, Yvette Cooper went out of her way to insist that Jeremy Corbyn’s lack of personal ambition was a character flaw rather than one of a very large number of reasons why he earned over three times as many votes as she did.
Jeremy Corbyn believes in aspiration. But his is not a desire to climb his way out of the miserable position of most Labour voters. Like every other socialist, Jeremy Corbyn wants to create a society fit for everyone. He has empathy and he listens. And the bullying of someone like that makes most Labour voters feel nothing but contempt for his abusive detractors, and more and more warmth towards the victim of this bullying. Counterproductive. Isn’t it obvious?
Can’t Labour members demand the MPs who tell Isabel Hardman they actually relish the PLP meeting being ‘miserable’ – because it helps them topple Jeremy Corbyn – identify themselves, rather than hide in the shadows, cowards plotting in the dark? And if they refuse to do that, let’s just draw the obvious conclusion that it is the same scumbags who crawl onto Daily Politics, Sunday Politics, Newsnight, Murnaghan, This Week, The Andrew Marr Show, Channel4 News, Today, Westminster Hour, Question Time, Any Questions etc, etc, et-bloody-cetera, basically telling voters not to offer any vote of confidence to Jeremy Corbyn, which will explain why May’s elections happen to be a test of these Blairite MPs and not at all the victim of their daily abuse in collaboration with the Tory editors and so-called journalists.
The gloves are off. It’s high time for Jeremy Corbyn’s base in the Labour Party (that is, the membership) to take our gloves off too. These Blairite bullies need to be cleared out of the way so there are genuine Labour representatives on the Daily Politics, and not just fifty shades of Toryism. Deselection has to be placed onto the agenda. That is the only way to put an end to this electorally-damaging one-sided civil war.
One concluding point: why have I called this blog post ‘Blairite MPs WANT to be expelled‘?
Blairite MPs are split. We need to define our terms. For a start, Tom Watson has to be described as a Blairite, at least by my definitions. His hatred of Tony Blair as an individual is entirely beside the point because Gordon Brown and Tony Blair shared the same ‘Modernisers’ project that gave birth to the political abortion that was New Labour.
Blairite has to be a description of those who made their peace with Tony Blair’s counterrevolution. That episode in Labour’s history has come to an end. Jeremy Corbyn is the democratically-elected head, heart, and spine of the Phoenix that’s risen from the ashes of the Blairite crash and burn, illegal war criminal apocalypse. Tony Benn’s party is coming home, and it’s destined to prove much more successful than the one Hilary’s dad tried to create.
I never joined Labour when Tony Benn said, “There are too many socialist parties and not enough socialists.” I am still undecided as to whether or not I was right to boycott the party at the time. But I want to join now, and as soon as posible; and I want to invite my co-thinkers who boycotted Labour in the early 1980s when the rest of the left climbed on board.
The left are being encouraged to call for the expulsion of Blairite MPs. That would be a catastrophic error, imho. Frank Field, Emma Reynolds and the rest of these MPs are desperate to get expelled. That is because it would give them precisely the excuse they need to split the anti-Tory vote, knowing full well that it will help keep Labour out of power as Shirley Williams did when she set up the Social Democratic Party. However, this time it isn’t going to work. At any rate, it won’t work provided Jeremy Corbyn’s Momentum activists don’t play into the hands of the PLP majority by calling for a purge of these MPs who are a miniscule minority within the party’s membership. Remind Labour’s MPs that they have no job for life, nor any right to expect one. These MPs owe their careers not to their political skills, but to the activism, financial contributions and votes of party members. Without the party behind them, they are nothing; nothing more than rather dull echo chambers for David Cameron’s agenda.
These Blairite MPs never tire of betraying their own voters by parroting – and voting for – David Cameron’s reactionary twaddle, as often as not actually attacking Tories from the right! So it’s time to reduce such traitors to the status of mere mortals, of rank and file Labour Party members. Don’t expel them. Not unless there are very exceptional circumstances. A witch hunt of the party will take on a logic all of its own, rapidly getting out of hand, as one set of dissidents fall victim to an even purer set of hard line ‘Corbynites’. On the contrary, let a thousand flowers bloom. Let’s have disagreements amongst ourselves cherishing those willing to ‘think outside the box’. Let every disciplined minority retain their right to try to win votes at a future date, even when the rest of us are convinced they are mavericks who, on a few specific areas, don’t know what they’re talking about. Let’s agree to differ. Let’s respect each other. Let’s listen to each other, taking pride in respecting fellow Labour Party members enough to care what they are arguing with their workmates, students, family and friends.
What Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters need to do, and as soon as possible, is to entirely unwind the reactionary witchhunts of Neil Kinnock, and the self-inflicted purges of the left that’s lead to a spiraling fragmentation of the left-of-Labour vote. Time for TUSC, Left Unity and all the rest to call it a day, to instead set up shop inside the Labour Party as constructive components of a healthy broad church of the left.
The democratic winding up of the notorious Life of Brian sectarianism of the extra-parliamentary left will make the anti-Tory Party broad church par excellence ever more attractive to all the exploited and oppressed to everyone attracted to human rights, justice, and equality. Simultaneously, this will lead to an increasingly hostile environment for Tony Blair’s yes-men and women. No one who cherishes democracy has anything to fear, but democracy is like holy water to the Blairites. If any profiteer-loving vampires refuse to learn lessons, abiding by majority votes, prefering instead to rip up their party cards, to then split the anti-Tory vote, then good luck to them. They’ll need it.