Friday 23rd September
The Labour Party, beloved of many, despised by many too – but also the only hope for the dispossessed, the poor and the unlucky ones – has been tearing itself apart for months now. It all started shortly after the Brexit vote; many Labour M.P.s and indeed the entire ‘Commentariat’ were thrashing around and looking for a scapegoat – “Just why did many traditional Labour voters opt for Brexit?”. And the answer they settled on was that it was all the fault of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s left-wing leader – he hadn’t made the case forcefully enough. Strange that they ignored the incredibly forceful presentations of CamerOsborne who shoved Project Fear down everyone’s throats until the public simply ignored them. Or the fact that far more Tory voters voted to leave than Labour people; as if it should have been Labour who rescued the Tories from their own misguided referendum. In fact, Jeremy was given very little media coverage; I saw him on Sky answering questions from young voters and in fact his was by far the most reasonable and sensible argument – the EU is not perfect, but if we remain we can try to improve it, if we leave it will still be there and we will have to deal with it yet we will have no say in how it is run. He also argued that many jobs would be threatened if we left. Little good did this quiet approach do him, though I suspect had he been pouring fire and brimstone down on us if we dared vote Leave he would still have got it in the neck. Maybe some of his M.P.s who dislike him so intensely were simply waiting for a perceived failure (though of course the failure was all Cameron’s) to start the row. In a surely pre-planned drip drip, one by one, Shadow Cabinet ministers resigned and then there was a vote of no-confidence in Jeremy and a challenge to his leadership.
The result will be announced on Saturday and everyone expects Jeremy to win again. So where does that leave us? Stalemate? Well, not quite – and of course things simply cannot go on like this. There is a proposal that M.P.s should have some say (the argument is really about how much) in electing the Shadow Cabinet and compromise is in the air. And a solution will be, indeed must be, found. Because otherwise the party will either split or continue slipping in the polls, and we will face mass de-selections and more bad press. The country needs a strong Opposition; in fact even the Tories need a strong Opposition to save themselves from themselves. And like it or not the (now vastly increased) membership of the party wants Jeremy, or at least the politics he represents. After the Blair years this was almost an inevitable reaction. And it may well be that the party will lose the next election, especially with the boundary changes, but eventually if it can hold together the pendulum will swing back, maybe Labour will have a new leader by then. It took 18 years after Thatcher, and it took the Tories 13 years after Blair to even form a coalition and another 5 to rule on their own. Let us hope it isn’t quite so long for Labour next time.