Friday, 23 September 2016

After more than 30 years, I leave Labour at 11.46am tomorrow.

Barring some kind of minor miracle - on a par perhaps with CETI announcing first contact with the Vulcans or the Great British Bake Off returning to the BBC – Jeremy Corbyn will be re-elected on Saturday as Leader of the Labour Party.

The announcement is due at around 11.45 am.

So after three decades or so of membership, my association with the party will end at 11.46.

Yes, that’s all folks. 

I’m afraid I really do mean it this time. 

Party card in the shredder.  Standing order cancelled. 

It’s goodnight from me. And it’s goodnight Vienna from Labour. 

I threatened to quit when the Jezster was first elected, but people persuaded me to stay on in the hope that the situation could be rescued.  I wanted to go when Angela Eagle was unceremoniously dumped in favour of Owen Smith, but was told I couldn’t desert at such a critical moment and should rally behind the PLP’s chosen challenger.

Stay and fight, my friends say.  But over what?  The burnt-out shell of a 116-year-old party which has been brought to ruin over a period of just 16 months?

Many MPs are tribally loyal to Labour and I respect that. But the Labour to which they owe their loyalty has gone.  The decision to elect Jeremy Corbyn for a second time is so profoundly stupid and destructive that it shows the membership has absolutely no desire to obtain power. The 1980s loony left haven’t just taken over the proverbial asylum. They’ve locked up the orderlies and are changing the menu in the refectory.

The people who support the veteran MP for Islington North are either cynical ultra-leftists who have no interest in Labour’s representation in Parliament or they are people sanctimoniously wedded to the idea that permanent opposition is a price worth paying for a range of abstract principles.

Much has been made of the poor campaigns of Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall last year. These mainstream politicians were criticised for offering ‘more of the same’ or ‘Tory Lite’.  The reality is that they provided intelligent and nuanced responses to the challenges of the modern world. It was just that the members – many of whom signed up specifically to vote for Corbyn while the election process was under way – wanted simplistic slogans instead. 

In that respect, Ed Balls was absolutely right to say this week that there is a common thread between Corbyn and Trump and populist movements of the far right.  They all scream about the ills of modern society with no coherent idea of how to address them. They all believe that globalisation can somehow be wished away. And they have no end of scapegoats for poor performance – the most notable being the much-derided ‘mainstream media’.

Here’s my prediction for what happens if, as expected, the sainted JC is anointed once more.

There will be crowing and gloating and nastiness in the Labour conference hall and in the dark corners of the web.  Corbyn and his pal Mao-Donnell will no doubt make conciliatory noises while their supporters run amok, targeting ‘treacherous’ Labour MPs who dared to question his leadership and will start working towards their de-selection. They will approach the task with all the charm, subtlety and grace that you’d expect of an outing of the Momentum Kids’ Club. Make that the Momentum Kids’ Club fuelled by illicitly smuggled sugar-laden biscuits, strictly prohibited by the Dear Leader.

So my message to Labour MPs is this: do not humiliate yourselves. You represent the views of millions of voters who hope for the return of a moderate progressive government.

Jeremy Corbyn represents supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and claims a popular mantle in the same way the Pope can point to adoring crowds in St Peter’s Square of a Sunday.

Don’t go back to his shadow cabinet with your tail between your legs. That’s what he wants you to do and it consolidates his power.

Don’t tell the media that we can all get along again. That’s what he wants you to say and it creates an illusion that he is somehow credible. He’s not.

The time has come for a new centre-left party. 

Of course, it will be small at first, but it will grow.

The argument that it will hand the Tories the next election is neither here nor there.  As things stand, the Tories are pretty much guaranteed to win the next election anyway.

There’s no doubt that the formation of a new party flies in the face of the first-past-the-post electoral system. But people don’t get divorced because they imagine it’s a good idea in principle. They do it because they can no longer live together. They do it because there is absolutely no alternative option.

Most importantly, the public deserves a real choice in the next election. In a modern, healthy democracy there needs to be a voice of moderation which sits somewhere between the ‘hard’ Brexiters and grammar school pushers on the one hand, and the old-style left-wing headbangers on the other.

I’m sad as I write this, because I devoted a great part of my late teens, twenties and early thirties to the party. I served as the Labour General Secretary of the London NUS in the late 80s. I chaired Frank Dobson’s constituency Labour Party in the early to mid-90s. I went on to stand in two parliamentary elections and have done more than my fair share of knocking on doors, delivering leaflets and phoning potential voters.

I never thought I would one day feel so out of place in the party that I would be forced to leave. But that day has come.

It would be dishonest to pretend that I could ever ask people to vote for Corbyn and McDonnell.  I couldn’t bring myself to vote for them myself. In fact, for the first time in my life, I may be unable to vote for any party in the next general election.  That’s not just a tragedy for Labour. It’s a terrible reflection on the state of British political life. 

26 comments:

  1. go back to the tory party, where you belong, mate

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  2. Why is it people like you feel the need to drone on and on, if you are going, can you not just go?

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  3. Sooner the better, why wait until tomorrow?

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  4. I'm so sorry that the author's attitude remains stuck in the Jurassic - umm, no, make that the Cambrian Period.
    For 35-plus years there has been NO truly left-wing, Democratic Humanitarian opposition to the super-capitalist Governments of Thatcher, Major, Blair , the slightly less right-wing Brown & Cameron.
    What we are beginning to observe here and now is no mere temporary cult of personality, nay - it is the moment of the worm turning and it is the time that the great British public finally decides to throw off the shackles of the one percent.
    This is the juncture where all that smoke and all those mirrors get smashed and blown away under the reawakened gaze of John Bull.

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    1. Now he knows how the true supporters of the Labour movement have felt for so many years. I have not had a party that I felt able to vote for for since the mid 1990s. Sure, I could have forgotten my principles and voted just to keep New Labour in power but, unlike so many MPs my principles mean more than power to me

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  5. And your opinion of Progress as an organisation?

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  6. What a post, full of snide comments and childish insults, I voted for Corbyn not because I am ultra Left but because I want a decent future for my grandchildren, New Labour have stolen that, sorry mate you and your attitude won't be missed.

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    1. Hear hear! Same reasons as me - I have 3 grandchildren and I want to secure a "decent" future for them too. If Mr Corbyn changes just one thing and that is ending the chase of peace through endless war and destruction - the world will be a better place!

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  7. dont let the door hit you on the way out

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    1. Darn it, I was going to say that. :)

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  8. I always thought labour was a broad church? I wonder why this movement the biggest in Europe should not be utilised in communities throughout the uk? Economic positions of many are benefiting the few. Change is needed and is happening in the uk and throughout the world. You can engage with it or you can walk away and stamp your feet.

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  9. Good bye - enjoy SDP mark II. Your opinionated flounce seems to lack any mention of the policies that define in your mind Corbyn as Ultra left which he clearly isn't.

    The burnt out shell with over half a million members, (even more when your fellow right wingers are stopped from purging people for spurious reasons) will in the main continue to grow and build a movement able to bypass the nonsense spouted by the press barons and their lackeys like you.

    Some will follow you and to be honest the sooner the better, they'll be replaced by people with a better understanding of how democratic socialism is more relevant than ever to ordinary working people.

    Maybe those that desert can no doubt learn from your expertise in electoral strategy. Hang on though - stood twice for Parliament, yet I can't see any mention of you in Hansard! Carry on losing, or maybe you'll find a safe SDP seat to fight.

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  10. I guess as the party returns to some sort of semblence of its former self people will leave as others join to be part of a re envigourated laft wing movement.It is sad Phil you cant be part of this but I respect your views although the dsimissive and abusive terms you use for Corbyn and his supporters is typical of what we have been facing this year from the right wing of our party. Labour meeting pre Blair were lively and positive we felt we were part of something and respected. Then all the grassroots were sidelined meetings and wards became moribound. In Armley my ward only 3 people would turn up to meetings. In this last year membership has grown with 500 new members in our CLP! These are often people who have never voted before. I dont understand the obsession with Corbyn that people from the right seem to have. Its his policies that we follow and surely you can agree that renationalising the NHS is the right thing to do. The right of the party got this horribly wrong and opend the door to this disastrous state and long with sucking up to the bankers and PFI, Time of somthing new Phil join us for a new world.

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  11. A political party is only a means to an end. Labour no longer seemed to be a means of changing society, but Jeremy has brought back hope that it could be. Surely you can see that?

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  12. Oh dear, oh dear oh dear. It takes more than one to make a party and to be fair this campagn has opened my eyes to the self serving, self rightious and sanctimonious who like you want to have a flounce. "My way or no way" seems to be the ethos. Well enough already. I regard myself as slightly left of centre (age 72) retired manager and have voted Labour for 50 years. Its time the centre of gravity shifted and concentrated on serving the waged, thee low paid, the sick and disabled instead of concentrating on the other end of the scale. Time for everyone to swallow their pride and get on with the job they should be doing- the holiday is over and there are more than one way of skinning a cat. Off you go if you dont want to participate but please close the door quietly on the way out

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  13. So obvious from your post that you can't tell the fake, Tory lite self serving gravy train riders from someone who actually wants the Labour Party to return to what it was formed to do and be. The REAL thing is Corbyn. How can you prefer No-Win Smith who simply hijacked Jeremy's policies and return 2 the oblivion from whence he came. The Labour Party doesn't stand a HOPE IN HELL of being elected with the Right's continuing obsession with being a centre right party - an already crowded position that has LOST us 2 elections already. Just what are the policies espoused by Jeremy Corbyn that you think are so unpopular? This is plainly NOt so as evidenced by the huge numbers joining the Party to support Corbyn. You don't belong in the Labour Party with views like yours.

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  14. If you got to go go noooow or else you will have to stay and fight. Seriously. We need a real Labour party and yoy don'T seem to belong in it

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  15. I think many of the ridiculous comments you've received in reply underline why you are leaving. The fact that people complain about the fact you are using basic freedom of expression to explain your views underlines how very repressive the lefts wing Momentum brigade are. They show utter contempt for anyone holding an opinion different from their own, and that includes the electorate, which explains why Labour, under him, are doomed.

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    1. What a lot of rot.
      Nich, it would appear that what you are saying is that only the people who agree that Corbyn is not what Labour needs are allowed to voice their opinion.If you disagree that that isn't what you are saying, then I suggest you re-read what you have written.
      If Phil is allowed to speak his mind in a blog, then we are allowed to say that he is talking bollocks as far as we are concerned.
      As Dispatches showed, rather nicely, (even thought that wasn't their aim) most people in Momentum want a fairer society. Under the Tories and the the right wing of the Labour party, they weren't going to get that.

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  16. It's not his freedom of expression we object to - we should all have a right to that. Although tbh in recent weeks I have felt that my freedom of expression, to campaign for the restoration of Labour as the party that campaigns to give working people a voice in parliament, has been severely compromised.

    Much we are all entitled to our opinions but we do not have the right to so radically change the Labour party so that the working poor and the unemployed no longer have that voice.

    That is what "New Labour" did. Well we are taking our party back. Feel free to find a party that better matches your views and leave me and people like me with a Labour party that returns to its original mandate.

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  17. Everybody else is wrong because...... you say so. Dear dear. I've been a socialist since before you were born. I don't doubt you'd have had the same attitude to Clement Attlee. Bye bye.

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  18. You prefer a Party that supports purges and gerrymandering figures to rig a vote? That stays silent over bullying a democratically elected leader to stand down? That hasn't got any vision except to immitate the Tories in the hope of winning Tory votes? What values do you subscribe to?

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  19. Boring. If you can't be with democracy then perhaps the Tories who did not offer their puny membership on option to vote, might be the best place for you to go.

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  20. You left Labour? Over Iraq?
    No
    90 day detention?
    No
    ATOS?
    No.
    Abstaining on Tory welfare bill?
    No
    Um...why?
    A leader who's, urgh, left wing!

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  21. For the first time since Bevan & Atlee (apart from Meacher, T Benn, the Bolsover Beast, Foot and a few others...) here's somebody who talks Socialism as I understand it. I have to wonder why PW ever thought of himself as a Socialist. At 79, I at last feel that there's some hope for the country.

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  22. You are doing us all a favour by taking home your bat and ball.

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