A lot has been said about Jeremy over the last week. Some of it fair. Most of it unfair. Some of it out-right abuse.
But most of all, almost all of it; ignorant. Not just about Jeremy as a person and his plans for the country, but about those of us who elected him, who support him, and will continue to do so.
So, in the interest of clarity, here are a few points of information for anyone unsure of Jeremy’s position as leader:
- We didn’t elect him for his public speaking abilities. We elected him for his ability to speak the truth.
- We didn’t elect him for the way that he dressed. We elected him because he thought standing up for the weak and vulnerable was more important.
- Above all, we didn’t elect him because he wanted to be PM. We elected him precisely because he didn’t.
Still, for any doubters in Jeremy and his New Politics project, ask yourselves this:
When the next attack on trade unions occurs, who would you want to represent you?
When the next savaging of welfare occurs, who would you want to represent you?
When the next privatisation of public services occurs, who would you want to represent you?
When the next military invasion occurs, who would you want to represent you?
When the next expenses scandal occurs, who would you want to represent you?
When the next phone-hacking occurs, who would you want to represent you?
Is it the New Labour moderate who voted for all of the above? Or the quiet, honest, principled man with an intolerance for injustice and an overwhelming mandate for a new politics?
We know that Jeremy isn’t a “leader” in the traditional sense. And thank goodness for that.
Jeremy has brought a new form of leadership. Leadership through service. Not leadership through ambition.
People who planned their whole political lives to be leader of the Labour Party find themselves punished for their “ambition-at-all-costs” attitude.
Their vote for the welfare bill, for the Iraq War, for tuition fees, for private finance initiatives, for the de-regulation of financial services and the raising of the child benefit cap; all for nothing. They sold-out their principles so they could acquire them later. But all of it too late.
There is only one person in the Labour Party who has retained their integrity, who has stayed principled, who has been true to his word; and he has been rewarded with a resounding mandate as leader of the Labour Party for precisely these reasons.
The PLP can’t stand it.
The Labour front-bench has never been a meritocracy of service. It has been an oligarchy of blackmail – of falling into line, of promotions for votes, of indulging the corporates and the media elites.
Not any more.
The Right of the Labour Party is now experiencing its own sense of powerlessness.
In government, Labour became arrogant. It bought into its own success. It allowed the liberalisation of financial services because “it could.” Because “nothing bad would happen on our watch.” Because it “was a small price to pay when you could raise more taxes.” It allowed us to be dragged into an illegal war because “it would better the Special Relationship.” It allowed immigration to become a dirty word because “it would win more votes.”
And all the while, this arrogance led to complacency. So much so that the whole purpose of even allowing these tragedies in the first-place was forgotten about.
“Playing the long-game” is a one-way ticket to a Faustian dystopia. Jeremy didn’t play this game. Indeed, he doesn’t even know how.
And this is where we need to look ourselves in the mirror.
Many Labour voters and supporters voted to leave the EU because, for whatever reason, they convinced themselves that Jeremy was – “secretly” – in favour of Brexit.
The media appearances, the arguments for remaining, the campaigning up and down the country; this was all farcical because “Jeremy didn’t actually believe any of it.”
The guy who can’t lie to save his life had campaigned on the most important political issue of the last 50 years against his own beliefs. Seriously?
This is as much a betrayal of Jeremy Corbyn as Angela Eagle’s leadership challenge.
Jeremy is not just the democratically-elected leader of the Labour Party. He is the necessary leader of the Labour Party.
And this is why we must all – Brexit or not – support him to the hilt.
And yet, due to the wave of unrest which the PLP has voluntarily inflicted upon itself over the past week; and due to the personal, emotional damage this has done to Jeremy and his family, we have to consider the possibility that Jeremy might resign.
This would be a tragedy – but it doesn’t have to be a catastrophe…
First, if Jeremy does resign, he’ll have a plan. He will not leave us in the lurch. There will be a proper plan for transition.
Second, it is important that we – as members and supporters – do not quit immediately. We don’t know who would take-over. If Jeremy is not on the ballot then we could conceivably see John McDonnell stand in his place. He would need all of us to stay and vote for him – and we should do this with the same passion and energy that elected Jeremy.
Third, there could still be a Party split. Even if there was no viable candidate from Corbyn’s team, a split could still occur with trade unions and others backing a formal split between “Corbynistas” and Blairites. “Luke-warmers” would then have a decision to make, and this could result in a pretty even split.
Fourth, if a non-Corbyn ally wins the leadership election and/or a split occurs; this is the time to assess our membership status. Not before a vote. And not before it becomes clear exactly what the Left of the Party aims to do.
We cannot let the Labour Party fall back into the hands of the PLP.
The PLP must fall back into the hands of the membership.
We need to stay. We need to vote. And, above all, we need to make sure that – whatever happens – Jeremy’s legacy is protected and, hopefully, continued.