Labour……..the voting begins.

NB – the views expressed in this blogpost are mine and mine alone – I do not speak for The Grim Squeaker or this blog.

Voting starts now – the ballot papers are being sent out from today, and as I write Jeremy Corbyn has 53% of the first preference votes according to the polls…..and as we know, polls can often be wrong. But it is beginning to look as though Corbyn could win, and I think this could be a very good thing.

I am not a typical Labour member (whatever that is these days) in that I have been a left-leaning liberal for 30 years. The antics of the coalition government, and in particular the betrayal of Clegg, moved me further to the left than before; I joined the party because I wanted to see Ed Miliband become PM. In fact, I still do – I think he has the makings of a statesman, and I hope he gets another chance.

Meanwhile, we have this contest. I will be voting for Corbyn. Not because I think he’d be a good PM (though that’s possible) but because I think he is the only candidate who has the clear intention of challenging austerity politics and who would be prepared to form a united opposition with other parties – an opposition that is desperately needed.

I think this is very important – people are getting more engaged with politics because of Corbyn – and if that means more people will campaign, more people will vote, more people will question the executive (whose power exists only because we allow it) then that can only be a good thing in a democracy which has been characterised by voter apathy for a long time.

So much so, that a third of those eligible to vote didn’t bother. The Tories were as surprised as anyone that they got into office again – they got 37% of the vote, 50% of the seats, and 100% of the power. And they intend to use it – they will use it to stifle dissent, they will use it to enrich their pals, and they will use it to dismantle what is left of our health, justice, and social security.

The fact that the mainstream media has published hundreds of articles about Corbyn, not all complimentary by any means, shows how rattled the establishment is by the support he’s getting.

We are hearing that if he is elected as leader, it will be the end for Labour – that is only true if those who refuse to work with him choose to split the party. We are hearing that certain MPs, including the self-publicists Mann and Danzcuk, want a coup “on day one”. We are hearing that in some quarters, Labour MPs want the vote stopped because it’s not legitimate if lots of “entryists” sway the result. We are hearing that Corbyn is ant-semitic, pals with terrorists, economically illiterate, a militant lefty, etc.etc. ad nauseam. None of this is accurate, and most of it is a flailing attempt by Labour to prevent what it calls “entryists” taking the party in a direction the heirarchy disapproves of, despite that very heirarchy voting for the new system that made it possible.

It is my view that Kendall lacks experience, lacks policies, and lacks the ability to lead. Her ideas appear to be bordering on the conservative. Cooper has not told us what her policies are, and has more baggage than a Heathrow carousel. Burnham is better, but seems to be chasing after Corbyn with policy announcements that look just like Ed Miliband’s with a bit of Jezza thrown in.

None of this is very inspiring. Whether you agree with Corbyn’s ideas or not, he has electrified this contest, and he is offering something different. He wants a more inclusive party, he wants an elected cabinet rather than one peopled by his own fans, and he has said that he will consider a leadership contest annually. He is also offering change, and with that comes hope.

Hope is a very powerful thing. If all he does is harness that hope into an agenda for change, he will have done something very important. The discussion on how our politics is done, how our country is run, what our place is in the world, how we can improve the lives of all our fellow countrymen, is a discussion that needs to be had.

It’s my view that neo-liberalism is a busted flush. People all over Europe are thinking this; there is a groundswell of left-leaning, green, inclusive, people-centred politics that is gaining traction. I like this, I want to be part of this, and I do not think that Kendall, Cooper, or Burnham do – but I think Corbyn does.

Right now, who leads the party in 2020 is less important than how this government is opposed. The election was only a few months ago, so I suppose it’s wrong of me to expect any opposition so far….but I also think that there was an opportunity for Labour to show it’s opposition on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, and I certainly think that abstention was disgraceful.

This is not 1983. Comparing Corbyn to Foot is risible. The world has changed, and we are now being governed by the frontmen for corporations. When people like Blair and Campbell tell us that we are mad to want someone like Corbyn, I have to wonder what and who they think Labour is actually for. When the old Labour New Labour has-beens tell me I must vote for one of their acolytes, it makes me even more determined to vote for Corbyn.

Will he make a good leader? I don’t know. Would he make a good PM? I don’t know that, either. But if Labour members vote for him, and he wins the contest, then the PLP must get behind him and they must take this opportunity to oppose the Tories – that is their job now, and it’s a job that needs doing urgently.

I don’t want another Blairite. I don’t want more of the same. I want to see some fight, some change, and some hope.

Please.

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10 thoughts on “Labour……..the voting begins.”

  1. Well, I shall bin the post I was preparing on the leadership vote forthwith!!! 😉

    Good post Ephe, and hits the nail firmly on the head, although I have to admit I am still leaning towards the Burnham/Creasy option simply because I think that will be the least disruptive internally (the serial malcontents Mann and Danscuk would be left with no leg to stand on). But I will be far from unhappy if Corbyn is successful and will throw my full weight behind him.

    One thing is for sure, it will be good to get this behind us and move on. The MSM has been full of stories of how badly this election has been managed, with the likes of Toby Young, Ken Loach and Mark Steel having to be excluded from the ballot; frankly I think that shows the correct safeguards were in place, and that entryism has been managed relatively effectively. Engagement IS important but if you spent the months leading up to GE2015, arguably the most important election in a generation for the weak & vulnerable, actively undermining the efforts of the Ed Miliband and Labour Party then your motives in wishing to engage with the party now have to be looked at with some suspicion; in my view Loach and Steel would have influenced many more wavering voters than non-entity Toadmeister, and their efforts will have cost seats that (at the very least) could have prevented this dangerous Tory majority.

    For the same reason I am unable to vote for Tom Watson in the deputy leadership contest. This was a man who happily joined the Mann/Danscuk ‘rentagob’ faction, briefing against Ed on many occasions, but who has become notorious on Twitter for blocking people who dared to criticize him or his tendency to do so. Mr Watson, you reap what you sow.

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  2. Right on Ephie,or should I say left,ha ha.I want the Labour Party I grew up with.Life for me in the Seventies was great.Plenty of work with decent wages.

    Thatcher said,Unemployment was a price worth paying,what she meant was destroying the Trade Union Movement,and anyone else who stood in her way.Like Cameron,she was good to the rich and F–K the poor.In the Eighties work was harder to find.Thanks to Thatcherism.Had she not had her Falklands War,she would have been a footnote in history.When people give her credit for the Falklands War,they forget to mention that she and John Knott had decimated the R.N.like Cameron is doing to our Army now.The Argentines thought we lacked the capability to retake the Falklands,and without the intelligence help of the USA they might have been right.Also Ronnie Raygun offered her the loan of a Aircraft Carrier if we needed it.

    Me have moved far to much to the Right,a Left turn to readjust is inevitable.I like Corbyn,he seems the real deal.

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    1. On the nail re. Maggie and the Falklands. If the Argentinians had waited another year the UK would not have been able to mount the operation it did, as HMS Invincible would have been by that time HMAS Australia and Hermes would have been decommissioned. The Tories, then and now, think only of the short term and nothing for the future consequences of their actions.

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  3. Really like this blog post and all the reasons you list why there can be no other choice. There’s much positive to be said about Corbyn breathing new life into politics and engaging people in the political process and more to be said regards a return to true democratic representation, a politician who views his work as a service to his country, rather than a contest for the reigns of power restores faith and hope.
    As a firm socialist and Green, I (regretfully) have to sit this one out. But I am desperately hopeful that the ballot count will be a landslide in favour of Labour’s return to its roots: only Corbyn has the courage and conviction to lead there. The country could do with a top bloke like him at the helm.

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  4. Posted with respect and for balance.
    Certainly he has generated discussion.Personally,I have no interest in labelling.It merely confirms ones bias either way and used as a term of support or disdain.They signify and distort.A shorthand that avoids the more complex reality.
    Hope is one thing,reality is another.It isn’t 1983,nor is it 1945.We may be yearning for fundamental change;people may fleetingly enjoin the ephemeral bandwagon,but they in the end ,people will vote in the majority for what they know.
    Opposing everything is easy,but to what avail.The fact is the way to ameliorate is to negotiate with other parties and Tories who have concerns eg. Wollaston else all will be passed regardless.Lord Newton enabled more concessions during the passing of the Welfare Reform Act than all the nay,nay,thrice nay would ever had done.If you work in tbe sewer you have to deal with shit,not turn your head away satisfied that you remained clean.
    Probably,because I used to be decisive,now I am not so sure,I don’t have a problem with Burnham and his dithering.He has shown,Hillsborough,National Care Service etc that he is far more steely than he appears.
    I think you are taking an abstention on one vote ,ignoring that parts of the bill you would support and after voting against the passing of the bill in current form ,to signify far more than in reality it was.Dare I say,a knee-jerk which avoids context and procedure.
    I must admit when Corbyn wins it will be enjoyable for a time until the cold reality freezes any hope of a non Conservative Government for the forseeable future.

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    1. Whilst I agree that Burnham is showing some steel in particular areas, it’s still all a bit woolly for me.

      As I said in my post, I have no idea if Corbyn will make a good leader or a good PM – I simply do not know.

      But – politics is changing in this country, and I think both the Tories and Labour have been surprised of late.

      The Tories really did not expect to win, did they? Cameron made all manner of pledges and promises before the election; he let Osborne run riot with his benefit cuts plans; he managed to hang on to Scotland by the skin of his teeth – and I think he was expecting another hung parliament at best, so none of his promises would have to be kept and he could blame whoever his coalition partners were for their obstruction to his plans.
      Now he will be expected to do what he said he’d do. He’s pratting about with various bits and bobs on the EU and getting nowhere with his negotiations; he’s got no clue what to do about Calais and immigration generally; we now know that we have been engaged in missions in Syria which had been off the table as far as we knew; and he has nobody else to blame now, which is not what he’d expected at all.

      Labour stood a very good chance of winning the GE – it was a very close contest, and I think Labour were shocked at how many seats they lost in Scotland, how many people defected to UKIP and the Tories, and especially how some big names like Balls lost their seats. I think Ed is the best PM we never had…..
      So Ed falls on his sword – which is what any decent sort of chap would do. Harman decides that the PLP should abstain on the bill you mentioned, and nearly a quarter of her MPs rebelled. Now we know that a lot of horse trading goes on in committee, that the bill is not likely to pass eventually without some changes – but many people were surprised at her stance, and she was surprised at the scale of the rebellion.
      Now we have this contest going on – and the Labour heirarchy are as surprised as anyone at the support Corbyn is getting. Some of their behaviour has been appalling, IMHO. The party set up this new voting system and is now reaping the seeds it has sown; on top of that, there has been considerable hubris on the part of the more senior politicians and they assumed, wrongly, that adding a left-winger to the list of candidates would spice up the debate a bit – and now some of those who nominated Corbyn are rowing back frantically, saying they won’t vote for him because he would be a disaster, and evidently surprised that the law of unintended consequences applies to them too.

      The truth is that we have no idea what sort of leader Corbyn would make if he wins. If he does, and keeps his word on electing his cabinet, he may well find that some of the things he wants to do will not happen – he claims he wants consensus, and it may turn out that if he gets that he doesn’t get to implement his policies.

      Cometh the hour, cometh the man – Corbyn may or may not be that man. The man I wanted was Ed. But in his dignified absence and silence, I’ll settle for what’s on offer. Our politics is changing, whatever happens.

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  5. Well I ‘ve voted.It has been a rather unique experience in being accused of betrayal for not enjoining the hysteria,the same fervency I witnessed in Liverpool with Militant.My branch was suspended,I think I am correct in saying I was the only regular that didn’t “join”.Shall we say,it was harder not to.I belong to no wing,clique,grouping beyond being a member.I suppose that is my purity and at times it is hard but to me essential.There is nothing new about Corbyn,I believe in a broad church where all contribute,he and his tradition have their place.I have no interest in fabricated notions of left/right.He has many qualities but,take it from me,he will not become PM.I am not Cassandra,nor arrogant in saying that.I doubt if Burnham would have.As you know acceptance is the first step,it pains me to say it but I feel I have to.The best we can hope for is amelioration for the long years ahead.

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    1. Well, yes – I take your points, they are well made.

      The biggest difficulty I have with “bandwaggonism” is that it is, as you say, ephemeral. Cleggmania didn’t last long, and probably wouldn’t have even if Clegg hadn’t had that love-in with Cameron in the rose garden…

      I just have a feeling that this might be different – I can’t explain it better than that. I think there are quite a few people out there who would like to see a more left-wing Labour; there are certainly a number of MPs in the Lavery/McDonnell mould who have been sidelined a bit as they don’t fit in with the high command. Maybe this could be a chance for them to do something; the new intake seem supportive of a more left-wing approach.

      Does this a movement make? As I said above, I don’t know. None of us will know unless Corbyn a) wins and b) gets the party supporting him. But if he does confound all the original expectation and actually pull it off, I hope the current heirarchy find it in their hearts to work with him and oppose the Tories.

      I value your posts, especially at this time; although I’m not sure I agree with you on some of this, you are a beacon of sense (and sensibility) at a time when I and others are prone to kneejerking……but I still want Corbyn to win!

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