It’s impossible to escape the conclusion that the failed coup (and it wasn’t even that in the end) did quite a lot of damage to the perception of Labour. At a time when the UK was reaching an existential crisis, as to whether it should be a Union or part of it, Hilary Benn made himself into a political Archduke Ferdinand and precipitated world war within Labour. Benn Junior’s legacy was a real “* you” to the membership, given that it is ubiquitously accepted that the general public will always punish divided parties as a rule of Newtonian classical dynamics.
The post-truth era for Jeremy Corbyn had of course begun long before his second election as Labour’s elected leader. It’s no mean feat for Rafael Behr or James O’Brien to continue their boring whingeing about Corbyn all the time, but to give them credit they need to pay their mortgages. But other people need a Labour government. The meme ‘Britain needs a strong opposition’ laying the blame at Corbyn of course is completely laughable given the torrent of abuse at Corbyn from all of the mainstream media, whether it’s on the inclination of his bowing in official ceremonies, the lack of singing at the National Anthem, or the alleged refusal to kneel and kiss at the Privy Council inauguration ceremonies.
Corbyn does not have the Twitter following with the magnitude of Donald Trump. He would not wish to boast about ‘expanding his arsenal’ either (pardon the unintentional pun about the Holloway Road in Islington). Nor is he best friends with Vladimir Putin. Talking of which, all of the pseudo-commentators who were spitting bullets at Corbyn’s morality seem to have gone deadly quiet about Trump’s ‘locker room’ banter, did you notice?
For all the talk about strong leadership, Jeremy Corbyn is no Adolf Hitler, Donald Trump or Nigel Farage. It’s hard to disagree with his ten pledges, which include the ‘bread and butter’ for many of us on the left wing of politics. Take for example the pledge ‘full employment and an economy that works for all’. George Osborne’s legacy, possibly not meriting a CBE, was to produce one giant ‘gig economy’, with workers having desperately and deliberately poor employment rights, many on zero hour contracts, and many being topped up with ‘working tax credits’ (hence becoming the ‘working poor’). Unsurprisingly, this has done very little to tackle the poor productivity of the UK in general, and the poor tax receipts have been a shocker for running public services safely.
A second pledge is impossible to disagree with. That is, “Secure our NHS and social care”. The emphasis of the current Conservative government has been a traditional one of ‘getting more bang for your buck’ and the euphemistically termed “delivery”, but the crisis in social care has been due to a toxic combination of imposition of private markets and lack of funding matched to demand since 2010. Even Conservative MPs are concerned about the parlour state of social care, which is also having a cost in the economy in people of working adult working age being unable to lead independent lives because of the need to care for “dependents”, for example people living with dementia with substantial caring needs. For a very long time, A&E departments nationally have been unable to meet their targets, and delayed discharges have gone through the roof. But this is not headline stuff due to a corrupt mainstream media – hellbent on their character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn.
No poll, even up until the night of Donald Trump’s eventual election, had predicted accurately the scale of the Republican victory. The general public are continuously being told about the unelectability of Jeremy Corbyn, however, even though British pollsters have a formidably catastrophic recent polling record, for example in the EU referendum or the 2015 general election. No amount of fiasco is too large to displace the vitriolic attacks on Corbyn, whether that be the failure of privatised rail services, the corruption of captains of industry for well known high street brands, an ability to curb the excesses of unconscionably paid people, and so on. But Corbyn himself would be the last person to bank on a three full terms with him as Prime Minister. He is currently 67 – not being ageist, but he would be over 80 if he completed three full terms for Labour. The succession planning for Tony Blair was an unmitigated disaster, reputedly because many of the successors did not want to ‘succeed’ taking up profitable jobs elsewhere.
Talking of which, Jamie Reed is doing himself and Labour simultaneously a favour. There is more of a chance of a pig landing on Mars, than there is a chance of Reed winning in the strongly Brexit seat of Copeland. It is a fact that Labour cannot triangulate itself into making itself very pro European Union for the benefit of many in Scotland and London, while also being anti European Union for very many in England. Whilst there are a few with extreme opinions such as ‘send Muslims back’, there are some who hold the opinion that EU workers are ‘stealing the jobs’ of indigenous citizens due to being able to work at lower salary rates. Theresa May MP has been consistently unable to stick to immigration targets, and Hilary Benn MP would have been better off campaigning on this than sticking the political knife into Jeremy Corbyn? It’s pretty unlikely that Theresa May will be able to deliver on both exiting completely out of the single market and exempting itself from free movement of people, meaning that there’ll be a lot of disappointed people around.
The LibDems have already made their bed, which they intend to lie in. The possibility of another Tory-LibDem coalition beckons (particularly if Kezia Dugdale keeps up her triumphant work of Armageddon in the Scottish labour vote; this catastrophe long predates the Corbyn factor). They in case are not the party of the 52% or the 100%, but the 48%.
I suspect people who claim to want a ‘strong opposition’ want nothing of the sort. They are prepared to continue to undermine Jeremy Corbyn at all costs in 2017, and are fully prepared to see Theresa May secure a mandate for a hardline exit from the European Union.
Jeremy Corbyn for the time being has taken back control of the Labour Party, but his strategy has paradoxically been to make himself not dependent on others to the point of being isolationist. But the strength for Labour will be, as always, when the whole works for the collective good, and is larger than the sum of individual parts. If some people with big egos don’t feel they wish to suffer the indignity of losing under Corbyn for their own beliefs, and want to leave, that can only be interpreted as a good thing. If they can offer constructive criticism as leading Commons select committees, that I suppose is good potentially too. Strictly isn’t bad either.
But if they’re just going to whinge holding onto minor London seats, or larger, they’re better off getting out for the sake of all of us.