I’m not even a Corbynista. I’m not a Trot. I’m not a member of the Socialist Workers Party. I am not a Member of Momentum.
I have merely voted Labour since 1990. I’ve been a member of Progress some time ago. I became bored with their flaccid uncritical superficial meetings. I’ve retained membership of the Fabian Society since about 2010, and I occasionally go to conference.
For the first time in my political life I am tempted (a bit) by the Liberal Democrats.
You have to say all this to pre-empt the huge abuse you get these days, mainly from liberal Guardian readers, who are fully signed members of the clubs above – who seem to have with them a strange sense of entitlement within the Labour Party.
You see –
I think I recently had to block Angela and Maria Eagle MP, who share the same birthday from what I remember from being Facebook friends with them. There had been no uncivil disobedience or even the slightest of interaction. I just felt like changing the locks before I knew we were to go our separate ways.
It was a clean break. I don’t think Angela checked in that much into Facebook. She certainly had never commented on my posts.
If there is one thing that this particular coup has taught me it’s the sheer personal unpleasantness about it. People I like, for example Alastair Campbell and Tom Baldwin, and in fact Neil Kinnock, have driven me up the wall with their comments about the unworkability of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership after merely nine months. Alastair Campbell by his own admission recently in a TV interview said he had little involvement with the Party, but he seems pretty “hands on”, to me anyway.
The coup reeks of Tony Blair and New Labour. It’s obvious that the conception of this, ironically, was 9 months ago, and now the baby is being delivered on time. The fundal height is about 39 cm – except the coup baby has its head pointed in the wrong direction and contractions were slow to start. But started they have. Angela (not Andrea) has announced she will be making an announcement on Monday, whereas Owen Smith works out whether his candidature might split the vote (not a difficult decision to make).
This coup is the Chilcot of coups. It has been done with little regard to the rule book. There has been a lot of ‘will she? won’t she?’ about Angela standing, given the problem of Jeremy having to resign first before ceremonies begin. In the wait for a second UN resolution not forthcoming, Angela has mobilised her tanks onto Jeremy’s lawn, so to speak. There’s absolutely bugger all plan for the world post Jeremy. There will inevitably a bit of a bloodbath, and civil war and anarchy emerging as victors. Possibly the Labour Party will split. Who knows?
The last two weeks, “Waiting for Chilcot” and Godot was it boring, felt like a bit of a phoney war to me. Dan Hodges was tweeting factoids such as this.
But it turned out that the truth was considerably more complicated – but in this post fact bullshit era, accelerated by Twitter, a smear is a smear.
This is what Wikipedia had to say about Alice Mahon’s involvement here.
But it turned out that Alice Mahon’s resignation from the Labour Party turned out to be considerably more interesting, which ‘journalist’ Dan Hodges was not keen to alert you to. This, together with her view of Damian McBride, made for interesting reading.
As I said, a smear is a smear. Whilst it is clear that Labour has foci of deep seated issues, I found it impossible doing due diligence on each smear as they came along, such was the volume of them.
So, when Angela finally declared her candidature (again), I was mightily relieved.
Of course, the idea of one leader being ‘to blame’ is a very outdated, if incorrect, concept of how leadership actually works. This article from the Guardian, a well known Corbynophobic paper, explains some of the nuances.
“Leaders may be in charge but they are not always in control. Those leading complex organisations need a high tolerance of uncertainty and ambiguity; the capacity for reflexivity, enabling them to notice how they and others are being caught up in the game of organisational life; the ability to recognise patterns of activity between them and their colleagues and more broadly in the organisation; and political savvy as well as knowing how to negotiate, persuade and form alliances.”
And furthermore, if Chuka, Liz, Rachel or Liz refuse to serve, to name but a few, your options are limited. And if you’re then victimised to high heaven in your organisation by colleagues, it can be difficult to be an effective leader, one can argue.
Under such a toxic culture, it is clear that the current Labour Party in parliament is not fit for purpose. In the last nine months since Corbyn’s election, I have heard nothing from the Shadow Secretary of State for health on an intention to solve the growing deficit in NHS finances, nor what to do about the private finance initiative, which would have required urgent work early on working with the Shadow Chancellor. I’ve heard nothing about how the Shadow Secretary of State intended to progress on ‘whole person care’, which had been advanced by Andy Burnham MP, a form of person-centred integrated care. I heard nothing about what was to be done about reconfigurations in the NHS, as this issue was outsourced entirely to Simon Stevens’ Five Year Forward View. In other words, Labour became a total waste of space on health. Expectedly, a senior representative from health was unwilling to support the junior doctors on the picket line, and no discussion was uttered about the possible contagion of the problems with the junior doctor contract on consultants or GPs, or indeed other clinical staff.
And maybe it’s time to remind Angela Eagle MP of this small matter – how she was singing a rather different tune in the ‘Left Futures’ last year during the Deputies’ race. The one where Angela came 4th – now reported in various places as “massive grassroots support”.
The text of this is:
“Angela Eagle, candidate for Deputy Leader, weighed in on the leadership debate yesterday attacking those who have said they would not work with Jeremy Corbyn, and calling for the party’s elite to respect the membership’s decision if they elect him.
Writing to members, Eagle said, “I would happily serve under anyone the members choose to be our leader. Why? Because I respect the wisdom of our members, supporters and affiliates and our Party’s process of electing a new leadership team. Every candidate has the right to be heard and put forward a vision for Labour’s future and, whether you agree with Jeremy Corbyn or not, he is in the race and is entitled to participate. So the talk of coups, remarks about not serving in Shadow Cabinets and former Prime Minister’s telling people to get ‘heart transplants’ need to stop now.”
This followed stories in the Independent last week that Labour MPs were plotting a coup to remove Corbyn by triggering an immediate re-election, if he were to win, and comments from Tony Blair that Corbyn supporters needed a ‘heart transplant’.”
I like Tom Watson – I’m friends with him on Facebook, and followed by Tom on Twitter. I don’t subscribe to all the ‘I’ve felt very let down by Tom’ remarks about Tom on Twitter, with words such as ‘sabotage’ unhelpfully used by Len McCluskey in relation to rather dubious negotiations.
And it’s become bloody easy for the social democratic/Liberal journo class to crap on about how Corbyn fans always talk about his ‘democratic mandate’. For all the brilliance of the leadership of Ed Miliband, loyal adult life long Labour members like me had to endure the indignity of the #EdStone from Lucy Powell and a million conversations from somewhere. I remember Ed wanted to have a conversation with me, no doubt as a bloody PR stunt. I don’t blame Tom Baldwin even.
But Ed’s Labour LOST the election.
This means that Labour MPs have to implement Government policy even in their locality – which they seem to be more keen to do than, say, doing something about unconscionable private landlords, or aggressive tax avoidance, or the lack of social housing stock, just because “the leaders’ office made me do it“.
Of course, Labour MPs can rebel against all these highly immoral policies at the NEC, while meanwhile in the real world Andrea Leadsom advances the Am Dram Front.
And – it’s not all to do with “that butty“.
There’s a reason why Ed lost the election for Labour – and the Labour Party machine lost it. Many of us who support Corbyn know why. It’s not actually to do with foundation trusts or PFI, or section 75 Health and Social Care Act (2012). For me, it’s all to do with the full adherence to the austerity agenda, which is a political choice not an economic one as the meme goes. Because Labour did not address its perceived lack of credibility on the economy, not helped by Ed Balls’ personal branding which ensured he himself lost his seat, Labour had to look like the Tories in their embracing of cuts. This went down like a lead balloon with many wondering ‘what on earth is the point of Labour?’ which was symbolised with all of the Labour leadership candidates ABSTAINING on welfare reform apart from Jeremy Corbyn. Rachel Reeves MP had written several offensive articles to the disabled community. I am physically disabled, so when John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn gave their full support to WOW Petition, I loved it. I lost my disability living allowance for no reason from the previous government, which I won back through the law courts. Labour did not speak to me at all on this – apart from Jeremy Corbyn. I am not a Corbynista.
And if you ‘embrace’ austerity, the rest follows. You call NHS hospitals ‘unsustainable’ whereas you actually mean you DON’T WANT to fund them properly. And if hospitals are negotiating PFI loan repayments, and the guidance on safe staffing is lax, with efficiency ‘savings’ expected, there’s a perfect storm compromising quality in the NHS. If you then strip social care to the bone (this budget has not been protected since 2010), it is reasonably foreseeable that patients will be stockpiling in hospital, not being able to be discharged through no fault of their own, disparagingly called ‘bed blockers’ by an incompetent and biased media.
That’s why I continue to support Corbyn.
Angela, despite her ‘vision’, does not do it for me. I think her voting record is somewhat irrelevant given that she will have been whipped according to the crazy parliamentary system (so she would have voted for Tory welfare changes, the Iraq War). For me, though, I can’t envision a future Labour leader having voted for a war that might be perceived as legitimised mass murder. She is meant to be the shadow business secretary, and yet I had no idea about her steer on EU v internationalism during the #Brexit campaign. All of this is ancient history, I suppose – for example, the Parliamentary Labour whips help out with coups now.
It’s got nothing to do with the fact I am according to my detractors in a cult (though if you want lessons in personality cults, I suggest you go to one of the many cliquey meetings of Progress with every excuse for Tony Blair possible laid bare). It’s all to do with the fact that many of us are fed up of being served up essentially the same meat with different gravy.
How do I feel, though, about a split following the Angela Eagle plan? To steal Lord Mandelson’s phrase, and I am sure his pupil Owen Smith MP will too in a Pontypridd way, I’m “intensely relaxed”.