Staying to Fight
I always find holidays a great time to relax and in my case get in some serious reading and thinking space. In a world dominated by immediacy we don’t create enough thinking time — especially in politics.
In the last few months I have drafted some posts and blogs only to not press publish when it has come to the final moments. Ironically my last post was about the kinder type of politics personified in Tessa Jowell but the two drafts that didn’t make it to publication were withheld because I had come to certain conclusions about Labour on anti-Semitism and the ongoing weakness of Corbyn on #Brexit in these blogs. I didn’t publish these because I usually feel other great writers are much better at expressing what I want to say, and to be honest the level of abuse that is thrown around on Social Media is something I still find unpleasant. On the Anti Semitism row it is pretty awful.
However, I decided in my time away a few things to concentrate on over the next 12 months and I helped clarify my thoughts on a range of issues whilst sitting on a French beach!
I have still not changed my mind about Corbyn. I will return to why in a separate post. Most of the things I thought in 2015 still are relevant. They are still why I think he can’t lead us to a Labour majority government with a clear working majority. But I am now comfortable with being in a minority on this within the current Labour party — but clearly in tune with what the electorate as a whole think. I think I have always said things as I see them and I see no reason to change my mind. Its now about how I handle being in a Party where I don’t support the leadership and how I work my way through this.
I won’t be leaving Labour despite everything going on at the moment and being told to F**K off and join the Tories by people who have only just joined Labour. I joined the Party in 1983 at our low point in recent history and spent years trying to make it electable again. Whilst I fundamentally disagree with the Leadership on so many fronts I will do we did last time. I will Work hard inside the Party to help it understand what it takes to build a coalition of voters required to win an election. Ie beyond our core. I have spent 30 years in Tory heartlands and the Loughborough Marginal. I still think too many in Labour don’t understand what makes switchers tick! What is even more bizarre is that I wasn’t even a Blairite – In was accused of being a Bennite in my early days. I don’t fit a labels easily!
Whilst there is lots of talk about a ‘new party’ happening I will not be distracted by this for now. This excellent article by one of my favourite political writers Stephen Bush sums this up nicely — Leaving Labour: Why a party split is now inevitable. I am amongst those who are deeply attached to what I still believe is my party. I have given 30 years of my adult life to the Party in various guises and won’t give up on it easily. The last 2 years have sorely tested my resolve — from the leadership to threats of deselections, infighting pathetic handling of #brexit and anti-Semitism rows. I am fortunate to be an ordinary party member and hold no official position any longer as I can speak freely about how badly I think the party is doing with these issues. But I stay to fight and make the case.
Having decided to stay and fight when good friends have given up and left I will need to work out some more details of what this will look like. For starters I will be joining a few of the campaigns that are most important to me — and changing the Party position on #Brexit will be my priority. I will continue to openly criticise the party on the position it is taking. I know from numerous conversations inside parliament that there is a sensible majority against anything resembling a #NODEAL or hard Brexit, so in the interests of the country we need to unite around those willing to put the countries economic future first and create a practical #brexit or even a #nobrexit if a second vote takes place once the details of any deal are known.
So over the next 12 months my efforts will be put into #brexit and the continued fight for a Labour Party that knows how to understand the wider electorate is hopes to represent. We have a leader and membership that only wants to shout inside its own echo chamber. The fact that Corbyn lags May and Don’t know in the best PM YouGov polling should alarm party members but it doesn’t. And in a sense that is more worrying. I guess this means at election time I will struggle as people like Corbyn and his supporters did to ‘endorse’ the leader to be PM. But at least unlike many of his closest friends and advisors I won’t be joining or voting for another party in a general election!
So I will stay, fight, be vocal and a bit of a pain, but still with the overall intent of replacing this Tory government. I will do my bit and not run away. Too many people tell me weekly that they are leaving Labour and won’t vote for Corbyn. I will try to convince them they are still better off without a Tory government even if none of us think Corbyn will be decent PM. It is the sort of contortion Corbyn had to perform regularly as he campaigned against all Labour leaders! It will be fun!