I have to admit I barely watched TV in the aftermath of the the British Labour Party’s disaster at the British General Election in May. Indeed I was in the Kings Hall in Belfast until 4am and had hardly any notion of the “big picture”.
All I knew when I collapsed into bed at 7am was that it was all an unmitigated disaster. The Tories in triumphalist mood is a sickening sight.
Of course Ed Miliband resigned…and disappeared from the Planet.
It reminded me of the Battle of Culloden …another massacre…in 1746.
Although the Jacobite “Army” was routed and many killed in the immediate aftermath, a large section of the Highland Clans DID leave the battlefield in as much good order as the circumstances would allow. Two days later the remnants met at Ruthven…where they met with other clans who had missed the battle….and they hoped to meet again with the drunken rapist, Bonnie Prince Charlie, who had been escorted off the battlefield by his escort from a Franco-Irish cavalry regiment, Fitzjames Horse….no relation.
But typically Charlie did not show up at Ruthven. He sent a message to the Clans…that all was lost and every man must look to his own future.
Which brings me to Ed Miliband, who also abandoned his troops in disorder. The Labour Leadership campaign was a shambles. You might think that veteran MP and former Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett who signed the nomination papers for Jeremy Corbyn might be pleased with the result…but she did not vote for Corbyn. She only signed the papers so that he could get on the ballot paper. Margaret Beckett…useless as a Foreign Secretary….is frankly an idiot.
The three opponents that Corbyn faced were useless. Burnham, Cooper and Kendall could offer nothing but blandness.
New Labour is dead and buried. It wont be missed.
How do we have a situation where maybe twenty of over 234 Labour MPs voted for Corbyn and yet he won with 59% of the votes cast…by MPs, Labour members and signed up newbies. Entryism? No….just a simple fact that the Labour parliamentarians are completely out of step with rank and file members and the Labour core vote is now a rump. The socially conservative Labourites are attractted to UKIP, the conscientious middle class are attracted to the Green Party….and of course Scotland has fallen to the Scottish Nationalists.
It is not quite a Meltdown. But almost.
Can a bearded left winger who has never held any post in Government and Opposition ….a friend of Palestine, and Sinn Féin and opponent of NATO and nuclear weapons really lead Labour to victory in 2020?
I doubt it….conventional politics ….bland….has lost out to conviction politics…Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump ….now Jeremy Corbyn.
The wisdom is that a British Election can only be won by appealing to Middle England. But Middle England is as totally lost to Labour as Scotland is. The Tories are triumphant. They might think they will rule England for generations to come. Especially as Scotland will almost certainly be independent in a few years. An unelectable British Labour Party makes a “United Kingdom” very unattractive to Scots.
And the Tories are already portraying Corbyn as a risk to the security of the “UK”. Meanwhile as Leader of the Opposition, “Her Majestys Loyal Opposition”, the office carries a salary and funding for research….Corbyn will, I assume become a Privy Councillor entitled to be briefed in confidence by the Government on major issues, including national security. For American readers, induction into the Privy Council is by kissing the monarchs hand in a special audience….this is a prospect that republican Jeremy and Elizabeth Windsor might find a bit distasteful.
There is a way back for Labour…but only thru general re-allignment on the left of British..soon to be English politics.
Tony B Liar spoke against Corbyn….tellingly saying that if your heart tells you to vote for Corbyn, you need a heart transplant. Yes its funny but it misfired because “heart” should be fundamental to Labour politics. It takes more than Blairite superficial crap.
The refusal of Blairites to serve in Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet is a mixed blessing. Clearly Corbyn needs more than the twenty MPs who voted for him. The Shadow Team will comprise up to fifty MPs and the Shadow Cabinet itself around twenty people. It needs to be balanced with Left and Right…and talent. What it does not need is Trojan Horses plotting the overthrow of Jeremy Corbyn. What it DOES need is people who voted against Corbyn getting on board with him in a spirit of party unity. The scale of the victory means that the Labour Party will be unforgiving of treacherous MPs who might find themselves de-selected by their constituencies.
So Rachel Reeves, Tristram Hunt and Chucka Umanna have said they will not serve under Jeremy Corbyn. They have gone to the back benches to brood and to plot. Will they resign from Parliament? Probably not. They are useless time servers and would be unemployable in the “real world”.
Andy Burnham who came second on 19% seemed close to tears. I expect he will get a job under Jeremy. If Yvette Cooper (17%) and Liz Kendall (5%) turn down Jeremy, it will make Burnham favourite to succeed when Corbyn is replaced.
But it is all good news for Diane Abbott and John McDonnell…chief backers of Corbyn.
Meanwhile Ivan Lewis has been told that Corbyn has no place for him. This means a new spokesperson on Norn Iron. Kate Hoey???? Surely not. She might actually come from Norn Iron but she is an outspoken unionist.
Really the Labour Party is in crisis. It will live or die. Really too soon to tell. But I am glad Labour chose Corbyn.