I do wonder if Corbyn realises what’s happening in Labour right now. Sometimes his manner of affable socialist can be quite disarming, other times I think it is a ruse.
It’s a precarious position Corbyn finds himself in. A lot of the membership have put a lot of faith in him. If it turns out he’s not the Messiah, it may turn out badly for him.
It’s a divisive time for Labour. Members with common cause across a broad spectrum of left wing thinking, but wracked with disharmony, discord and outright vilification.
I remember when I was a member in the party. My tendencies in principle were left wing, but I was startled at how mundane the policy thinking of many on the ‘hard left’ of the party was. They often had sound principles, and some good policies, but they struggled with the concept that they would have to ‘sell’ the idea to the public. In particular, they really struggled with the idea of simplifying the message for public consumption. They seemed to live in a world where everyone was as passionate about politics as they were, and so would take the time to read long tracts of literature put through their door.
Worse still any opposition to their ideas (sometimes they had naff policies too) was met with instant labelling of ‘Blairite’ or ‘you’re just New Labour’. I also detested that claim, not least because it was untrue, but also the hypocrisy that many of the ‘old Labour’ brigade were happy to accept the benefits of New Labour when it brought success. The broad church of the Labour Party was only broad if it accommodated the hard left and nothing else.
Still, for the most part they were good people, hard working in terms of campaigning and dedicated to tackling social injustice. Despite my many disagreements, I would never withhold support for them, I accepted the whip, and I’d actively campaign for them. I knew that whatever disagreements we had behind closed doors ended when we opened them – we all walked out Labour.
So to see some of the madness that has overtaken the party is both saddening and sickening. Yesterday, while on the Andrew Marr show, John McDonnell took a moment to look straight into the camera and appeal for unity. It was appalling, not least because he dismissed opponents Corbyn and (tellingly) himself as wanting to ‘destroy’ the party.
So it comes to this – dissent against the left and you are no longer just on the right, no longer just a Blairite or New Labour, you want to destroy the party. Yesterday McDonnell exposed the authoritarian nature of the leadership and Corbyn’s, shall we say, gentler politics.
This extremism is disturbing. It reminds me of the US Republican Party in it’s modern day zeal, denouncing Democrats and liberals as enemies of the US. There’s no middle ground, no acceptance unless there is conformity. McDonnell’s plea was no different, and he attempted to delegitimise dissent in the party.
I’d also note the talk into the camera moment came at the same time he was being pressurised about an alleged break in to an MP’s office in Parliament. It seemed convenient misdirection, and suggests to me it was pre-planned.
It’s a disturbing turn of phrase that denotes the true intentions of this new leadership. It is why I wonder where Corbyn is in the scheme of things. How much control does he have? Is he genuinely ignorant of the very great difference between mindless opposition and critical feedback? I don’t know enough to about the man on a personal level to have insight like that. I can only judge what he’s done.
He’s sowed the seeds of discord, and Cold War paranoia. Labour has gone from divisive to ugly. It may be that this ‘momentum ‘ needs to burn itself out. Perhaps only a general election defeat will deliver the realisation for the party.
The problem is that there is considerable irresponsibility with his supporters. Everything is someone else fault. Poor election results? Blame the media. Poor polling? Blame the rebels. Poor PMQ’s, blame the MP’s. Under Corbyn, failure is everyone else’s fault. He is crucified because of everyone else’s sins.
I see some talk of the Overton Window. I see some suggestion of a wider scale of change. Perhaps it is the case that we are in the midst of a major reset, and that the left is reorientating itself. It is possible, but I don’t see any political nounce in the likes of Corbyn, McDonnell or McCluskey. They close off the realities of the world because it’s too inconvenient to try and deal with them. I genuinely think, that despite 30 years of being an MP, Corbyn is no closer to understanding the nature of leadership and substantive policy than he was when he started.
It’s a scary thought. A group of narrow minded, unimaginative bullies trying to form government. How would they function in government? They look terrified, because the halo might slip and they’ll be seen for the frauds they are.
Politics is about the exercise and use of power. In the wrong hands it can be disastrous; in the right hands it can deliver deep and meaningful change for generations. For hundreds of thousands of party members, I fear they are about to learn the hard way that the exercise of power under Corbyn will be akin to using a rubber mallet to open a steel door.
It’s a pity, because with this desire for social change this mass movement could mean something, but under Corbyn, and his inner circle of extremists, I fear it so no more than the surging charge of lemmings. The great mass movement towards annihilation.