Just before the recent set of by-elections, my dear one and I were chatting in the car about politics: we predicted a win for the Tories in Copeland and that Labour would hang on to Stoke, but with a low turnout. I don’t think we have unusual powers of prediction, just that in the current climate that seemed a likely outcome. I greeted the papers announcement that the Copeland result was a ‘shock’ with bafflement. Really? I thought that political editors were supposed to be experts in the field… and they were ‘shocked’. My cat could’ve seen that one coming.
I guess that if you’ve been bothered to follow my blog, you won’t be at all surprised to hear that I don’t hold Corbyn responsible for this debacle. And that’s not because I’m a Corbynista, or the occupier of a bubble that echos my views back to me. I am not blaming Jeremy Corbyn because there are so many other candidates for blame that I am surprised we are settling on one.
First up every single member of the PLP who have taken time out from their busy schedules to inform any passing stranger that their party sucks, their leader sucks and that we need a change of management at the top.
Second of all, any supposed ‘liberal’ journalist who took them seriously and reported these views in a national paper – without a corrective.
….and that’s it, because these two groups have become mutually reinforcing, and the conversation between them is so exclusive that sane and supportive voices never seem to get a look in.
For the past months I’ve followed PMQ’s via the Guardian, who have reluctantly agreed that – after a shaky start – Mr. Corbyn has found his feet. For a short while the party kept their arguments to themselves and things were looking better. Unity is always a better look than chaos – just look at the Tories. They have politicians of every stripe (from more or less libertarian to woman hating fascists) in their camp but they also have little or no public dispute.
And a change of leader now would be calamitous: you can’t have leadership campaigns every year without the public detecting a problem, you can’t make policy if you don’t know what agenda you should be following, and you can’t oppose the Tories if you spend your time opposing your fellow PLP members.
I don’t think that Jeremy Corbyn is the ideal leader, but he’s got an electoral mandate, policies that I can get behind and the strength to tough out a hateful campaign of invective against him. I think that the Labour party will lose heavily in the 2020 GE – and when it does I suspect that Corbyn will resign, but the loss won’t be his fault if significant members of the PLP (with the support of the liberal press) continue to brief against their elected leader.
We won’t win an election with a PLP that cannot respect a membership mandate and a real need for political change. And frankly if we can’t offer a coherent and radical alternative to Tory policy – politics of hate, oppression, selfishness and greed – then we don’t deserve to win anyway.