“To whom shall I speak and give warning That they may hear? Behold, their ears are closed And they cannot listen” On the likely fate of a sincere journalist’s attempt to rescue the British Labour party.
Whatever social media platform one visits, these days of dark omens and portents, there is an unquenchable appetite for strife. For example the USA Democrats struggle to group around Hilary Clinton. It appears to be the last refuge of the weakened and the bitter to refight lost battles to try to reclaim a world long gone. The responses to Owen Jones’ article, which tries to give cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the convulsing Labour Party, is a case in point.
I appreciate and support Mr Jones’ call for an outbreak of common sense but reading the comments (related stories?) has cast gloom over his fragile hopes. He says inter alia that the Labour Party is now actually two parties. I agree but fear that neither one of them can stand the other. Blaming is always more satisfying than eating humble pie in messy divorces.
The comments bear me out unfortunately according to my own straw poll. In reading the 36 I can see, I only found a handful that gave enthusiastic agreement to put it all behind us and get to work on the compromises. I know my criteria were subjective but my impression was that 17 were anti Corbyn and dismissive to some extent. 8 were pro Corbyn with a handful vindictive. 7 gave a measure of support to the call to hammer out a working compromise and 4 were about something else. This is doubly disappointing as I am going to assume that the people who took the trouble to read Mr Jones’ article had some level of desire to find a way to unite a shattered party.
Neither side emerges with great credit but as the Corbyn faction appear close to victory it is more necessary to concentrate on what they say and what they do. It is presumably the victors that the article most addresses. Headlines about their actions since Mr Jones’ article appeared damn our hopes for unity even further.
Far from the dignity in victory that the article calls for Mr Corbyn’s alleged supporters seem to be actively calling for kicking out rebels and dissenters. Ironically this is the exact opposite of the line Mr Corbyn himself wishes to put forward in “reaching out” to the MPs who have had no confidence in him. The purification line has a long and ignoble history in the Labour Party and it is both interesting and saddening that it revives itself periodically when the Party’s fortunes are at their lowest ebb. There are a number of advisers grouped around Mr Corbyn, who have socialist purging as a lifelong ambition.
The cabal claims to speak for the mass new membership of the party. These young metropolitans are enthusiastic and energetic, but essentially untutored in the arts of politics. As Mr Jones himself points out they are not currently spread across the country evenly and are thus a long way from being able to promote the kind of dissent that might make a difference. Meanwhile their leadership appears intent on cloaking their status as a party within a party. That couple with a jesuitical targeting of children and a failure to rein in the cabal makes them seem rather too much like the Muslim Brotherhood to outsiders. Given their penchant for squashing dissent, perhaps Muzzle ’em brotherhood would be better.
If would require real leadership and resolve from Mr Corbyn himself, to step outside his symbolic status and actually lead his Party. It’s not impossible to stitch community activists and parliamentarians together. The climate of opinion in those bothered about the Labour Party seems against any such impure compromise. What has brought us to the point where neither vision nor practical necessity has the power to avert doom.