I recommend every socialist reads this article by Ellie Mae O’Hagan: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/09/jeremy-corbyn-supporters-voters-labour-leader-politics?CMP=share_btn_tw. Read it alongside David Wearing’s here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/08/labour-party-mps-corbyn-conservatives-tories-post-brexit.
Both of these articles are trending on Twitter today, and rightly so. Of the two, I prefer the latter. Nevertheless, I found more to agree with in Ellie’s piece than I’d expected. But I do disagree with some of her emphases, and I want to explain why.
Jeremy Corbyn supporters need to eliminate phraseology that could prove a hostage to fortune, irreparably damaging the united left we all need to take on and humiliate Theresa May’s zero percent Tory dictatorship. Let’s start with the title of Ellie’s piece: “Corbyn supporters are not delusional Leninists but ordinary, fed-up voters”.
It’s not uncommon for journalists to complain about someone higher up picking an inappropriate title for one of their articles. Don’t know if Ellie is going to do that, but her title is not a very good one for several reasons. Who are these ‘delusional Leninists’ she’s refering to? Is it me she’s looking at? Does she have Dave Nellist in her sights? He’s not agreed to join Labour either: at least not yet? Is Ellie trying to preempt his joining Labour as Paul Mason argued he and those who think like him should? I hope not.
Why would any supporter of Jeremy Corbyn want to insult socialists who need to join Labour if they’re not already on board? What about Paul Mason? Will Ellie Mae O’Hagan join Iain McNicol in casting doubt on whether he has left behind his youthful flirtation with ‘Leninism’? Why? Where would that get us? That’s the road to McCarthyism.
Am I a ‘Leninist’? I’ve read almost all the major works of Lenin, and am not going to pretend I didn’t agree with a lot of what he and his supporters have written. But are we dealing with an insult calculated to justify witch hunts? Purges? Yet more purges of the variety that has lead to two decades of splitting the anti-Tory vote in circumstances that could only help Theresa May form another majority Tory government with less than a quarter of the electorate offering them any kind of mandate, albeit one based on Britain’s Tory biased broadcast and print media? Where is the sense in that?
I’ve not joined Labour yet for a variety of reasons. Scotland is a very different place. And Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters south of the border are, I regret to say, every bit as clueless as are the rest of the party on how to rebuild anything here. I’m not going to go into the reasons for that in this post, but a lot of work remains to be done; talking to Corbyn supporters in Scotland is step one if Scottish Labour is to stop the haemorhaging of members and votes to the SNP, to Greens and to just about everything else that moves up here.
In England, first-past-the-post is a fact of life all ‘Corbynites’ have to accept, at least until we change that electoral monstrosity. That other JC of two thousand years ago may have been able to defy gravity and to walk on water. But our JC needs to obey both the laws of physics, and of politics. Essentially, first-past-the-post means all socialists in England need to be Labour Party members. Trying to keep TUSC out is a recipe for disaster. Any socialist denied the right to vote on who Labour’s official candidate are, and even to stand to become such a candidate wins an automatic right to split the anti-Tory vote while still maintaining the high moral ground. That’s what Tom Watson and Iain McNicol want to do: to split the left vote to allow Tories to form governments on a tiny percentage of the vote. Does Ellie Mae-O’Hagan want that too? I’m not quite sure. Not yet.