I’m a reluctant convert to the notion that the current Labour leadership ballot must be halted, if not scrapped altogether. It’s becoming a complete mess now. We have heard instances of “supporters” paying their £3 in order to vote for a candidate whom they don’t support and who they believe would inflict damage on the Labour Party and now there is hard, documentary evidence that it’s not just some supporters who are being denied a vote in the contest but actual members whose views apparently don’t fit.
As I have said before, we have Ed Miliband to thank for introducing this shambles of an electoral system whereby the vote of one “supporter” counts the same as a lifelong member of the party or even an MP. What on earth is the point of having a membership based organisation if you then allow just about anyone else to vote at a fraction of the cost of full membership? If the wider electorate felt Miliband was not fit to be prime minister, his legacy is a further, possibly catastrophic breakdown of trust and belief in the party that confirms it.
Forget, for one moment, the impact Jeremy Corbyn’s imminent election as leader will have on the country in general and Labour Party in particular. Think about how this whole sorry mess is playing out across the land. There were three main reasons Labour was defeated in May. One was Miliband himself, the others were the fear people had about the impact of the SNP on a Labour government and the main one was regarding Labour’s competence with the economy. We know that the idea that Labour crashed the world economy by spending too much on schools and hospitals is a nonsense, but it happens to be a nonsense plenty of people believe. It’s Labour’s fault, too, for not explaining what really happened. How, then, does Labour look to the average person, conducting a flawed and chaotic election for someone who could be the next prime minister?
By ploughing on with the election, announcing, laughably, that there are “robust procedures” in place to deal with irregular voting, but never explaining who is making the decisions or really on what basis and by not having a formal appeals procedure, the party looks ridiculous. And why? Because it is.
What was Miliband, and everyone else associated with this procedure, thinking about when they introduced it? No wonder the ex leader is keeping quiet. Having failed to deliver one general election, it is quite possible that the current descent into farce will ensure Labour cannot win for another election, or perhaps generation.
I have absolutely no doubt that Corbyn would win a re-run. I suspect he would win it by an even greater landslide, given the uproar it would probably cause, but surely even his greatest supporters cannot seriously give the contest any real credibility. In fact, many of the far left have so far been its greatest critics, condemning the exclusions of various “supporters”.
Weak, timid, defeated, Labour’s bureaucracy is taking the party to electoral obliteration. The way things are going, Labour will be defeated long before Corbyn leads it to hell in a handcart.
I still can’t believe it is all happening, a ghastly return to the 1980s, with the ghost of Tony Benn’s rampant tomfoolery back to install political purity as a price worth paying for permanent opposition, with the voices of opposition crushed by the crumbling behemoth of UNITE and the dreamers who think that the voters of Britain are crying out for yesterday’s man. And I think I am being generous in the extreme to refer to Corbyn as yesterday’s man.