It is a stand off between the PLP and Corbyn who has a level of support that many of us have never seen command by any politician in recent memory. I am not a member of the Labour party but I do like Corbyn and did earnestly want him to make a success of his leadership for the simple reason that modern democracies need a strong opposition to redress the political landscape.
Coming from a continent myself where the opposition is often forced to take dangerous risks in promoting democracy I have never bought into the mantra that a party can only ‘do things’ if it is in power. The opposition can be a strong force for good but it does need equally strong support to be able to do the job of opposing the sitting government.
Corbyn’s support seems to be draining away fast and furious. As an outsider myself I wonder what forces are at play in this collective of the Labour party? Let’s face it, Corbyn never had the full support of the party from the moment he received enough nominations which allowed him to stand in the leadership contest in 2015. The voting community were told over and over again that Corbyn’s left leaning politics would never win the day under any circumstances. In the meantime Corbyn has won two by-elections and a healthy majority of Labour supporters, 65%, voted to ‘Remain’ in the EU Referendum.
The tension is between a leader who has huge support from members but for a position on the political continuum line (that ranges from far left to far right) that is opposed to a party position that sits more on the right to Corbyn’s left. Nobody outside the geeky circles of politics really understands these positions. All the electorate wants to know is whether the leader is looking out for them or not. By all accounts the membership of Momentum, a grassroots movement comprising of thousands, set up to bolster Corbyn’s leadership, seem satisfied that Corbyn is looking out for their interests.
Perhaps, this is where the PLP is going wrong. Stuart Hall, the cultural theorist, once said “the right of the labour movement, to be honest, has no ideas of any compelling quality, except the instinct for short-term political survival. It would not know an ideological struggle if it stumbled across one in the dark. The only ‘struggle’ it engages in with any trace of conviction is the one against the left.”
And so Stuart Hall’s words have come to pass. Will the PLP ever let anyone on the left lead it ever? If the PLP forces Corbyn out it will have, basically, stuck two fingers up at its’ voters. If Corbyn stays with the support of the trade unions he will be, also, sticking two fingers up at the Labour establishment.
Will anything break this impasse? The worst thing is that there won’t even be an agreement on how to break this impasse. I had hoped that a bridge would have been built through the actions of Jonathan Lansman who set up Momentum because he understood and recognised the power and needs of the constituency.
I do find it hard to see why Corbyn is having to bear the blame for the Referendum campaign when Alan Johnson was the leader of that and when many Labour MP’s did not even muster a ‘Remain’ vote in their constituencies. If the blame game is to be played then should the net not be spread wider? Corbyn is not actually as radical as people make him out to be. Many of his policies accord with the opinions of heavyweights like Blanchflower. Also, successive governments are to blame, surely, for ignoring the needs of people like the Northern working class.
This Labour crisis actually throws up a heck of a lot more than who the leader is. It raises questions of representation for those who feel ignored and marginalised. If Corbyn leaves you can add the anguish of his supporters’ to the wider group of those who voted for ‘Leave’ because they too did not feel that anybody was listening. As an outsider with no vested interest apart from wanting true representation for people I do wish the Labour party and the members all the best.