There is something gruesome, compelling but yet almost beautiful about what is happening in the Labour party just now. Watching this excruciating and contorted battle for its ‘soul’ one can not help but agree with the conclusion of John McDonnell that the plotters are ‘****ing useless’. This is now a civil war that can not be won and it is likely there will be a split based around Labour’s parliamentarians and the Labour party membership. We could have two parties emerge from this internecine shambles. One with a small membership but lots of MPs and another with a large membership with a corresponding small number of Parliamentarians. If this does come to pass it will all be the fault of those who have led this inept revolt and the almost clueless way their plot has been executed.
The minute Jeremy Corbyn was elected Blairite MPs wanted absolutely nothing to do with his leadership and their sole mission and purpose was to bring it to an end as quickly as possible. There were problems though, not least the size of Jeremy’s mandate and the damage that could be done in the wider membership and movement with any hasty proceedings. Care and caution therefore had to be exercised with a view to ensure that any future damage would be as minimal as possible.
The strategy was to demonstrate that they would give Jeremy’s leadership ‘a go’ whilst simultaneously doing all they could to destabilise it. Leading Blairites would therefore serve on the front bench to demonstrate this ‘loyalty’ whilst some would be dispatched to the back bench to give a noisy but measured opposition. In fact, you can almost imagine the evening round at Hilary’s or Yvette’s, scoffing into some expensive pizza whilst knocking back the warming Sauvignon Blanc. ’Andy, you and Angela stay on the front bench, Yvette and Caroline do what damage you can from the back’.
Aided and assisted by Jeremy’s chaotic front bench performances the plan was a patient waiting game until the optimum moment presented itself to strike.
But then they got restless. An opportunity presented itself with the turmoil following the Brexit vote. ‘Can we somehow blame Jeremy for this situation and his lack of commitment’? “Yes”, they concluded and the disastrous series of measures were put in place. The ‘carefully crafted’ plan was to be initiated with the picking of a fight where a senior Blairite spokesperson would walk. ‘Remember Hilary, you go first, then we all follow’. With little left of a shadow cabinet it was anticipated by the plotters that Jeremy would be away by the end of the week. The Parliamentary Labour Party would then rally round and once the membership saw this unity they would also fall in line behind the plotters. It would be the perfect Parliamentary coup….
Only Jeremy hadn’t read the script and he was going nowhere. He drafted in still loyal MPs into a new shadow cabinet and exercised a business as usual approach that bamboozled the plotters. ‘Why doesn’t he just go’ they wailed, knowing nothing of the historic lessons of the left’s attitude towards power? There was now no plan and things started to disastrously come apart.
‘Maybe the unions can persuade him to go’? – they prayed in hope as no-one came forward to challenge his leadership. Next stop was the Labour NEC where they now hoped that Jeremy would somehow be kept off the ballot paper. But Jeremy had bolstered up his support on the NEC and the Blairite plotters now knew that they would have to face an unwinnable contest. The last hope they have is that they can somehow sufficiently rig the franchise in their favour by disallowing large chunks of the Labour membership a vote. That is how desperate it has quickly become for the most inept Parliamentary plotters of modern times.
The last stage will of course be another, probably more decisive, victory for Jeremy and the plotters will have killed their party. For the life of me I just can not understand why the Blairites didn’t try and really work with Jeremy’s leadership and the membership? Do something sensible like jointly grooming a future leader from the left with a view to unity (everyone knows that Jeremy could never win a general election)? Why couldn’t they work on joint programs and put in place a legacy?
I think that what is at the heart of it all is the sense of entitlement within the Blairite wing of the Labour Party. They used to call the shots and run the party. They have now found that they are totally ill-equipped to meet the challenges of a fast changing political environment and they understand it even less. They probably therefore deserve never to return. It’s just a pity they will take the Labour Party down with them as well.