The only good news about Jeremy Corbyn’s impending re-election as Labour leader is that I will be better off. £47.04 per annum better off, to be precise, will remain in my bank account rather than assist Corbyn and his comrades destroying what’s left of the Labour Party. That £47.04 will come in handy as the Conservative Party looks forward to permanent government whilst the people’s party turns into a social movement. It’s sad, but I am just looking forward to confirmation that Corbyn has won, almost certainly by more than last time, so I can move on.
This will represent the second time in my life I have left Labour. I didn’t leave when it was overrun by the hard left back in the 1970s and 1980s, not least because I could see light at the end of the tunnel. Whilst the hard left was strong, it did not have control of the party’s machinery so there was always the likelihood the party was saved and so it was by, first, Neil Kinnock, John Smith and then, to three election wins, Tony Blair. And yet Blair provided for me the single reason that saw me resign Labour membership: Iraq. It was not so much that I did not believe that sooner or later the west might need to intervene to prevent genocide but the route to war, led by George W Bush, was a disaster in ever sense. I did not believe I was lied to by Blair and still don’t, but the invasion ran counter to everything I believed in. I had to go.
I stayed out of the party for 12 years, disillusioned by Iraq, but still proud of what a Labour government could achieve. That it could have gone further and done more is unarguable, but I always believed, in the 1990s in particular, the only type of Labour that could win was a party that would attract votes from outside its conventional electorate. It would need to convince people that Labour was competent and trustworthy and that it would not wreck the economy. Blair managed it three times and I shall never forget the joy I felt when Labour won each time. I do not believe I shall ever see another Labour government in my lifetime because Labour’s situation is now irretrievable.
I am almost relieved that the party is nearly over, the Labour Party that is, even though the consequences for the country are grim, at least that part of it which needs a Labour government. I could not honestly bring myself to belong to a party led by a pacifist, a supporter of the IRA when they were murdering innocent people, the “friend” of Hamas and Hezbollah, who took money from Iran state TV when the country was executing hundreds of people, who wants to leave NATO, who stands by whilst party members are bullied and threatened by his supporters and who, by any kind of measurement, is not capable of leading a serious political party. I suppose he might be capable of “leading” a political party that isn’t serious because that is what Labour will become from next week.
Given the hundreds of thousands of new members the Corbyn cult has attracted, the loss of my £47.04 will be inconsequential. The comrades will be glad to see the back of people like me, those of the mainstream left now regarded as Blairites, Tory-lites and, most ludicrously of all, neoliberals. No more stuffing envelopes, traipsing around my constituency knocking on doors – how could I honestly do that with a clear conscience? But if Labour is not going to get my money in future, how about my vote?
Despite my 12 years away from Labour, I carried on voting for it. I was one of those who would vote for Labour even if it was led by a monkey wearing a red rosette and in 2015, I did pretty well just that in voting for Ed Miliband. I liked Ed, very much, but the electorate didn’t. They couldn’t imagine him as a prime minister, they didn’t trust Labour with the economy and they believed Labour would be at the beck and call of the SNP. I am not sure the electorate said, “That Ed Miliband – he just wasn’t left wing enough. We need a 68 year old backbencher to lead the party, preferably a pacifist who would consider handing back the Falklands to Argentina, someone who has voted more often against Labour in the Commons than David Cameron, someone who has never had a proper job outside of politics and has never been on a committee in parliament, never mind in the cabinet or shadow cabinet. He’s just what we need.”
The politics of Corbyn is a Pound Shop version of the politics of the Bennite 1980s, which saw Labour obliterated in the 1983 general election and out of power for 18 years until Tony Blair came along. It is the end of what Labour has stood for since its inception 116 years ago, as a party whose mission is to represent ordinary working people in parliament. I see the election of Corbyn and the hard left as nothing short of a sell out, selling out millions of working people who desperately need a Labour government in order to build a protest movement. For the middle class Corbynistas who do not need a Labour government, it matters not a jot if the Tories win next time out. If May and co flog off the NHS, as they surely will, then they will be able to afford private health care. The bonfire of workers’ rights after our departure from the EU will not affect the chattering classes. It’s always the poor who suffer, this time as a direct result of their abandonment by a so-called socialist party.
I could never vote Lib Dem, never mind, for goodness sake, the Green Party and it’s not even worth going down the road of even thinking about the Nasty Party (the Tories) or the Even Nastier Party (Ukip). I could even be stateless after next week, unable to support a Labour Party that contained the likes of Ken Livingstone, George Galloway, Mark Serwotka and John McDonnell or the anti-Semites, misogynists, bullies and thugs Corbyn seems to attract. I might be able to vote for my local Labour candidate if he is not a Corbyn supporter, but it scarcely matters, since this constituency, whose major employers include the MOD, Rolls Royce, Airbus and BAe systems, will never vote for a Corbyn government in a million years.
Those hundreds of thousands of Corbyn fans will have plenty of opportunities to worship the altar of Corbyn in the years ahead, at packed public meetings, soothing the accidental leader’s ego, mistaking adulation for electoral success. All the while, the Conservatives, unhindered by meaningful opposition, will be able to do whatever they like. I don’t look forward to saying “I told you so” in a decade’s time when Labour is a minor dot on the political horizon, waving banners at protest meetings and listening to Billy Bragg songs. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Only the Tories are laughing today.