A somewhat reluctant political post
Oh how the arguments have raged within the Labour Party for over a year now.
Last summer I vocalised my support for Jeremy Corbyn round an enormous dinner table, with rather high stools, in the middle of Wallonia, Belgium. I had been drawn on the topic, evidently, as I do not discuss politics at the dinner table, if I can help it.
The argument raged across the empty plates and dirty cutlery and quietly people slipped away from the table. I don’t blame them; my support for Corbyn has always come with caveats, the primary one being until there is someone better. Better how, I could not quite articulate last summer, other than to say that I had worked in his constituency in the 1990s and I recall some of his positions in those days made me uneasy.
Now, after nearly a full year, I do have a clearer picture of what better might entail. The ability to get the PLP functioning might be a place to start. Another might be to get off the back foot with the media all the damn time. Or to find more than the inner circle (McDonnell & Abbott) to get on message in the media – this last point leads me to the first and second points again which rather go to somewhat illustrate the problem of the last year.
However all this does not automatically translate into a vote for Mr Owen Smith. In fact, I look at those good people, who probably know far more than I, who support him and urge others to do the same, and wonder why they think we can turn the clock back a year and pick up where we left off, which was basically a thumping by UKIP that let the Tories in.
Labour is, to my mind, too far down the road now in terms of the division over a shift to the left. The cracks cannot be papered over with Owen Smith, or indeed anyone better than Corbyn. We are on the road we are on, and, rather like Brexit, we must make the best of it. As things stand, no-one who knows anything thinks that Labour are likely to win a general election in 2020 or anytime before that point with Corbyn in charge. Funnily enough, I never thought that he would last summer either – what I thought back then was that something interesting was going on: a recalibration of the party, something I wanted to see.
So those who know more than me, gnash their teeth about getting into power to turn back the Tory tide, and I look at that argument and think it’s a right one. Then I look at the Party I am a member of and think – really? If Labour cannot move left a little without eating itself from the tail up, it does not bode well for being a party of government any time soon. Britain, England particularly, is a conservative country with a small c. Socialism is a risky business as far as the electorate are concerned.
The best hope for Labour is that the Lib Dems resurge somewhat and that a left of centre alliance can be formed with the Greens and the SNP, but I don’t even see that, not really. It’s almost like the country like to be purged on a regular and prolonged basis by the Tories. Perhaps it’s ingrained in the class system, perhaps it’s an epigenetic inheritance from Puritan times. Who knows.
I haven’t voted in the Labour leadership election yet. Maybe I won’t. I can’t vote for Smith because he wants to openly learn on the job and I may not be able to vote for Corbyn because he is somewhat worse than I thought. Maybe next summer (when the leadership election has become the annual summer event) someone who really is a bit better than Corbyn will come along.