I voted for Jeremy Corbyn – I just had a look at the brochure that came with the ballot paper and sighed, virtually all the PLPs voted for Owen Smith and the vast majority of CLPs voted for Corbyn.  Awkward.

Maybe the PLP are genuinely convinced that this is the correct road to power, but I’m wondering whether electing a leader, publicly scorning him, organising an ineffectual coup, attempting to shame him into resigning, calling for a new election and trying to exclude the sitting candidate, putting up two terrible alternatives, organising a poor campaign against the leader (even as it seems that the leader is going to get a clear win anyway, thereby making them look a bit, uh, dumb), preventing paid-up members from electing the leader (even while their dues contribute to Labour funds), preventing long time members from voting, allowing LibDem donors and people who liken Labour members to “stormtroopers”a vote and doing it in the glare of the press, much of which is naturally unfriendly, really is the way forward.

 

Ban the Burkini ban

Dress and custom are ways we maintain boundaries or how we identify ourselves as being part of a certain group or community. I wear Converse with my bootleg jeans and grow out my grey hair because I want to be recognised as part of the alt-middle-age group (and not the M&S clothing demographic), Mods wear Docs with their fish-tale parkas, Sikhs wear turbans, priests wear dog collars and crosses, politicians are apparently obliged to wear a dark suit (if men) or plenty of chest-covering (if women), toddlers don’t generally wear business suits and business men don’t usually dress up in rompers and bootees (unless they are having some very special moments with grown up friends). Clothing is cultural, symbolic, loaded with meaning and a way of signalling your tribal alliances. It’s also a gender battlefield and deeply political.

For example, adherents of this religion must dress modestly, their heads must be covered at all times, knees and elbows should be concealed, fashionable or tight-fitting clothes are frowned upon. It’s terrible isn’t it, the strictures that Islam places on women? Except that it’s not Islam and it’s not women, these are the restrictions placed on some orthodox Jewish men.

It’s interesting to note however that no-one wants to rescue these men from the dress-code they live under, because they are men and if they decide to do something, it’s assumed that it’s their right to do so, and they have full agency. Muslim women who want to veil their heads are viewed as victims and oppressed, or foolish followers of male dictates – and in France at the moment, potential terrorists.

I hope I wasn’t the only one to be appalled at the pictures of four armed men obliging a lone woman to undress on a public beach. I assume that if you believe that these are foreigners who should observe our cultural norms, you would be happy to wear a hijab and face veil when you’re next in Dubai, and be happy if your grandma was forced at gunpoint to don a black robe over her one piece swimsuit on one of their public beaches? If you’re not, then darling, you’re a raving hypocrite. And an Islamophobe.

Oh, but of course, we only worry about women being oppressed by their clothes if they’re brown and foreign. If they’re white and young they might well be oppressed by  various other strictures: skirt too short = slut, skirt to long = frump, too much make-up = slut, too little = lesbo, too much chest on view = slut, too much chest on view = breast feeding mother = feminazi, but this is just part of our cultural values that women have to negotiate and that, brother, is that.

I don’t think that those who have been cheering on the French authorities for clamping down on burkini’s are actually defending women, I think they’re other-ing Islamic people and going after an easy target, the dress that defines them as different, because if they were really and truly worried about women’s rights and freedoms they’d allow the women in question to wear EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT.

Bridges

Whatever the motivations of the anti-Corbyn plotters – and I’m sure that many of them are sincere in their commitment to the party welfare, what they did and what they are doing has been a disaster.

If those who genuinely believed that the only way forward was a new leader, the timing was abominable, if their motives were sincere, the organisation of the coup was appalling. If they thought that they were doing the best for the party, they have completely mis-read the mood of the vast majority of Labour supporters.

People love to point to our terrible poll ratings as proof that Jeremy Corbyn is an insufficiently effective leader, but they only really indicate that so much shit is hitting so many fans, some is bound to stick.

And it’s pointless: Jeremy will win, the right wingers will sulk (and plot again? Dear God, I hope not) and we will be so far behind in the polls by that point that the Tory’s will be distant dot on the horizon. And for what? The opportunity to prove to critics that Labour cannot be trusted with a piss up in a brewery.

And how do we row back from this? Some people who I used to respect and admire are writing the most preposterous nonsense about people like me, and of course, some Corbyn supporters have said equally horrible things about people who don’t support their position.

We have aired all our dirty laundry in public, and if the voters now believe that all the Labour party are misogynists, anti-semites, Trots, plotters and incompetents, we’ve only got ourselves to blame. The man in the street will most probably have an abiding impression that the Labour party would rather hate each other, than work together against the Tories, and they won’t care who started it and who had the most pragmatism or the least principles.

But we have seen a huge upswing in people motivated to do politics – and ok, a hundred people at a rally doesn’t mean that we have 11 million extra votes, but it does mean that we have a 100 people willing to go doorstepping and make our case. You sneer that all these new supporters are middle class or students or not from the Labour heartlands, but not too long ago you said we had to take our message to the non-voters, the well-to-do and the south of England – ta dah!

We have tons of potential positive energy out there and we’ve always known what our politics should be – the NHS, a decent social security system, fair income and wealth distribution, a great education for all, nationalised utilities and transport etc etc. Give our members a manifesto they can be excited and passionate about, have the courage to air your own ideals and convictions and fight the Tories for governance of this country.

But we need to do this as a party that’s organised, tolerant and most of all united. It’s time to start building bridges.