In a few hours time, the ballot closes in the Labour leadership election, and by the same time on Saturday the new leader will be announced. Whoever it turns out to be, I hope that the party – especially the Parliamentary Labour Party – gets behind the new leader.
The views in this post are mine, and mine alone; I do not speak for The Grim Squeaker himself or this blog.
I have voted for Corbyn – this is hardly a secret to anyone who knows me! I do not necessarily agree with all his ideas; but I think his detractors have exaggerated his unsuitability for a leadership role, and have chosen to make a lot of fuss about his history rather than focus on what he is saying now.
It has bothered me that, despite the original support for Ed Miliband’s ideas on reforming the voting system, as soon as it became possible that Corbyn might steal a march on his so-called moderate fellow candidates, the Labour heirarchy started muttering about entryism. As a fairly recent member, who joined shortly after Ed Miliband’s statesmanlike handling of the Syria debate in 2013, some who have supported Labour for decades might argue that I am an entryist – but I know people of the left who think Blair was the ultimate entryist, so we all have our views on this and those views are equally valid.
The NEC agreed to implement the voting reforms of the Collins Review – them’s the rules, as agreed, so all the full members, the affiliates, and the registered supporters, ARE the Labour Party now. It’s no use moaning now, it’s too late to claim it’s not fair – and if long term members are affronted by what they feel is not a proper vote because they don’t like the idea of new members potentially delivering a result they don’t want, I would respectfully suggest that they had some time to argue against the Collins Review as it was agreed in principle by the NEC in February 2014 subject to a vote at the Special Conference on 1st. March 2014.
Maybe the law of unintended consequences applies; but this system is what the party voted for and this system is what it’s got. If Corbyn does win (and as I write, that is not a certainty) anything could happen. I hope that he is supported by all sections/factions of the party; I hope they do not stage a coup or do any other thing that gives the Tories – especially Osborne – a chance to attack Labour any more than they do already.
Whoever wins will be under scrutiny by the Tories and their media friends – Ed Miliband was attacked for having 2 kitchens (Cameron has 5, not including his official residences); he was attacked for making a mess of eating a bacon sandwich (Cameron eats hot dogs with a knife and fork); he was “Red Ed”, he was weird, he was a geek/wonk/whatever……and he was “funny looking”. Kendall will be attacked for being more Tory than the Tories, however untrue; Burnham will be attacked for Mid-Staffs, however untrue; Cooper will be attacked for being married to Balls and for Atos and for flipping houses (sadly all too true); Corbyn will be attacked for pretty much everything; and all that will obscure the fight that they will try to take to the Tories.
And that’s the point – none of the candidates is the enemy of the left, none of the candidates wants to see another 5 years of Tory hegemony after this current term, and even though I personally have problems with the ABC candidates (mainly because their campaigns have been so poor and they have failed to persuade me to change my mind) these shenanigans over the leadership have blinded some of us to who the real enemy is.
Whoever wins, I want Labour to deliver a strong and principled oppositon; we Brits are not usually given to extreme politics – but unless we fight the Tories and their corporate takeover of all I hold dear, we could end up with the sort of fractured politics we see in parts of Europe. I don’t want a Golden Dawn in the UK – UKIP is bad enough. I don’t want a Militant-loony-left type left wing either.
But I do think that the time has come for a real fight against the corporations that control our media, politics, and public services; I think the time has gone for a slightly less obvious touchy-feely New Labour type of capitalism. Mandelson once said he was intensely relaxed about the filthy rich – as long as they pay their taxes. Well, they don’t. That ship has sailed.
I hope the old guard in Labour – MPs, long-term members, affiliates, new supporters, everyone – will support the new leader and give them the heft they will need to oppose effectively. If they can’t or won’t, I fear for our future.