Build The Wall

23rd May 2016

Build The Wall

I have previously asserted two things. Firstly that the election of a particular individual as leader of the Labour Party was irrelevant as the party had been usurped before the ballots were counted and arguably, though unprovable, before last summer’s contest even started. My second assertion was that the May 2016 results mean that the party is now beyond rescue because they were sufficiently tepid to allow the Corbynistas to entrench their position. That view has since been reflected by a poll showing Corbyn would win a leadership contest even more emphatically despite, or maybe because, of those May results.

In this piece I argue that the time has come to accept that the world view of the Corbynista and the world view of the ordinary Labour member/supporter/voter is so fundamentally different that they are incompatible and they can no longer co-exist within the same party. In short, that the principle of the “broad church” is dead.

The Labour Party has always had enemies on its left. It always should have enemies on its left, because the Labour Party is, and always has been, committed unequivocally to parliamentary democracy, the rule of law and regulated capitalism. It never has been a revolutionary party, an anti-West party or a Marxist party. In that sense a number of those who call themselves Corbynistas should never have been Labour Party members at all, let alone those who have joined since Corbyn became leader.

Opinion polls show that the Labour Party no longer recognises that it has moved beyond the boundary between the values the mass of the population expects it, as a party of the left but also of government, to hold and the values that mass would find unacceptably extreme. The UK population have consistently treated the parties of the far left as they deserve to be treated, both in the contempt in which they hold them and the votes they cast for them. But we know that, if the Corbynistas had free rein to decide, then the Labour Party would adopt policies close to, if not identical to the policies those parties have espoused. They may yet do precisely that.

The only hope that the Labour Party would have of retaining any deposits at the 2020 General Election if it were to stand on such a manifesto would be through inherent loyalty to the brand.

This is also the reason why people find it difficult to accept my assertion that the Labour Party is now lost forever to the far left. They are loyal to their party and have faith that it can be saved. There are pockets of resistance, occasional triumphs for the moderates, and regular episodes of disgrace and shame for Corbynistas. Yet there is no evidence that any of that, or consistent poor showing in the polls, both opinion and real life, has weakened the Corbynistas’ stranglehold on the party. If anything the death grip is even tighter.

At the start of last summer’s leadership contest it was possible to argue that the four candidates represented four distinct strands of thought within the spectrum of the party. Andy Burnham for the “soft left”, often the default position adopted by trade unions; Yvette Cooper for the technocratic Brownites; Liz Kendall for the Blairites and Jeremy Corbyn for the self-appointed moral guardians of the flame of socialism. During the course of the campaign, and certainly by the end of it, there were only two camps – the Corbynistas and everyone else. That position has hardened over the last twelve months and while the anti-Corbynistas have not united around a clear platform of what they are for they certainly have a clear opinion of what they are against.

One of the defining characteristics of anti-Corbynistas is the belief that the key to replacing the Conservative Party as the party of government is to convince current Tory voters to change their vote. That this group of people must be reached out to, listened to and persuaded, rather than vilified and shunned. Those who think in this way will have to accept that, so long as the Labour Party remains under the control of the Corbynistas, then this reaching out is not going to happen and thus the Conservatives will remain in power.

At some point the emotional attachment to the name and history of “the Labour Party” must give way to the understanding that work must start on the real task. That isn’t winning the internal battle of a tiny fraction of the electorate but of offering the public at large a credible alternative to endless decades of Tory rule. Leaving the entity that has the name “the Labour Party” but no longer pursues the values that entity was founded upon is not a betrayal. Staying and prolonging Tory rule is the betrayal.

Once outside of the dried up husk of what will then be a fringe far left rabble of electoral no-hopers the anti-Corbynistas will need to defend themselves from the risk of it happening all over again. In the organisation they set up to take the fight to the Conservative Party a wall must be built – a clear statement of what is and what is not acceptable within a party of the centre left.

It is at this point that a genuine debate, in an environment of mutual respect, can take place. Those different strands of thought that always used to exist but have now been forced to coalesce in the face of Corbynism can offer ideas and concepts towards building consensus around that statement. As a Eustonite I have a particular set of views but I do not expect those to be shared in full by others in the anti-Corbynista ranks. However I have no doubt that is that there will be a coherence between our views in a way that does not exist in the binary world of the Labour Party in 2016. The debate itself will be an uplifting experience that will draw the public in and engage them on the issues that matter to them, not a game of far left bingo.

The language used in internal debate in today’s Labour Party is of winning and losing, of victory and defeat. The far left do not believe in consensus. Removing the far left from the equation will allow the centre-left the space to broaden debate, thinking and, ultimately, electoral appeal. For too long the centre-left has been held to ransom by the far left, compelled to keep the embarrassing uncle around out of a sense of familial loyalty. The events of the past twelve months should be enough to convince everyone that such loyalty is misplaced and will never be reciprocated.

Let the far left shout, scream and march itself back into obscurity. It is time to escape the death grip of Zombie Labour, build The Wall and become a party of government once more.

By Jake Wilde


Please note: articles and posts on ‘Middle Vision’ reflect the views of the individual authors and not of all involved in ‘Middle Vision’

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7 thoughts on “Build The Wall

  1. The fella who pointed out Anti semeticism, in universities has been suspended for signing to allow a Libdems on the ballot paper(this doesn’t mean endorsing him) Rod liddle one of the only people who understands Essex man, in the Labour Party, suspended,for pointing out anti semeticism exist, Simon Dankzac(who I’ve no time for regarding historical sexual abuse findings) us penned for as a single man, texting a 18 year old flirts(shock horror) yet Ken Livingstone despite suppose to be unbiased on the NEC talked about it on air.

    Yet the party is happy to have endless anti Semites in the party, comparing Israel to the nazis, yet aren’t suspended, see the MEP or thurrock labour, or Andrew Fieher ,Christine shawcroft backing non labour members yet the party appoints Shami Chakrobarti,while accusing the Tories of islamaphobia, claims to be independent, to investigate anti semeticism, we’ve already had one inquiry white wash by baroness royal, that ignored anti semeticism, expect another

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  2. 1) The Left’s capture of the Labour Party will not be permanent. Things change in politics as in life. There was a time that Blairites dominated the party. That time passed, and so will Corbyn’s.

    2) There is some evidence that Corbyn has a personal appeal that boosts his standing with Labour members. That is, he’s not just popular because he’s a Leftie. When he stands down it is by no means certain that a McDonbell or a Nandy would win the ensuing leadership contest. YouGov polls of members show that Corbyn’s far more popular than his comrades on the Left, and the results of the mayoral selection and the deputy leadership show that it’s still possible for non-Left candidates to do well. The Blairite candidate (Jowell) beat the Left candidate (Abbott) in the mayoral race, for example.

    3) Membership of political parties is subject to change. One in five Labour members didn’t even vote for the party in May 2015. How committed can they be? Why assume they’ll stay as members forever?

    4) Walls don’t work. Corbyn disagreed with much of the party’s prospectus, and was in breach of some party rules, for most of the last three decades. He still became leader. Form a new party, give it a constitution the Left can’t sign up to; it won’t matter. They’ll still join if the new party becomes the alternative to the Tories.

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    • George,

      I’ve now read your reply on the gerasites blog. I agree that some form of PR would allow a separation between moderate Labour and the embarrassing uncle. But it would be a huge price to pay.

      I used to be in favour of PR but I don’t like what I’ve seen of the quasi-PR system at work in the devolved nations, for example. Small parties wield too much power. Decisions on the forming of governments are taken behind closed doors or by party memberships at special conference. Parties like UKIP, who can’t break through under FPTP, are given a lifeline.

      There are weaknesses in all systems but the lesser evil seems to me to be a system that over-rewards the party that comes first and usually avoids the need for coalition negotiations, on which the voters have no say.

      If I ever return to supporting PR it will be because Labour can never win under FPTP – which isn’t implausible. But I’d be supporting it out of convenience rather than conviction.

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  3. It is very sad to read blog posts like this one. I support Jeremy Corbyn, I voted Labour for the first time in 2016 because of it. I am not some radical communist, I’ve not been involved in politics at all, ever, I am just a decent law-abiding regular guy who feels that Jeremy Corbyn reaches out to him in a way that others do not.

    So why should I, and my beliefs, be treated with this sort of contempt? Why should I be constantly reminded that I am the enemy, an infiltrator, a danger to society?

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    • Hi Mara,

      You have a point.

      Part of the problem is that, I fear, some of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are not as nice as he is, or as you are. It’s these people that Jake was reacting to. If you’ve never come across them, it’s not surprising you are so saddened.

      In my opinion, the other part of the problem is our electoral system. We have a system which severely punishes minor parties. Jake feels that Labour has been sustained as one of the big two by the enormous efforts of moderates like himself.

      Disagree with him or not, that’s what he thinks.

      He thinks that a Labour party dominated by Corbyn and his allies will mean perpetual Tory rule. And he’s very upset by that. He knows that starting a new political party in the current system will be incredibly difficult.

      I think it’s time for everyone on the left to support electoral reform, so that those with utterly contradictory views can be in different parties. Politically, I’m probably pretty close to Jake and to Richard. Ironically, though, it looks like it’s the Corbyn supporters who agree with me on PR.

      I agree people like you deserve to be treated with respect, even if I totally disagree with you. However, I wonder, if you are new to politics, maybe after more time grappling with the issues, you may not end up in such a different position as myself.

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