Monday, 27 July 2020

Should I Stay or Should I Go? by Piers Jackson

The Clash memorably put a stark decision forward, and though the song was to do with a human relationship, it has a deep resonance for me in political terms.

Relationships are two way. When you respect, and are respected, love and are loved, then there is a sound base for moving forward. To me, politics is a relationship. You can observe from the edges, criticise or applaud, or become involved more deeply when something radically changes.

That radical change happened in 2015 when Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party. For many years I didn’t really understand politics, however I knew what I believed to be right, and so I voted Labour since 1974, although I was aware enough to know that nothing was perfect. The 70s were a time of upheaval and finally led to the election of Thatcher, a destructive force whose legacy is now coming to the fore with an extreme right wing government.

Although voting Labour for 46 years, often wondering why I did as no one except Michael Foot spoke to my political ideals, I kept what may be viewed as a misguided faith. Until 2015.

I was living in France when I joined the Labour Party and when I moved back to England I transferred my international membership to my local CLP. I helped as far as I was able to campaign in the 2017 election and in 2019 too. Paid my subs and was happy to do so for a sensible set of policies that could have started to redress the balance of inequality in our society.

So, we lost the election. And now, discovering the lengths to which right wing Labour MPs (see chicken coups) and admin staff at Labour HQ went to to smear and discredit their leader, I had to decide whether this was my party or not, and if I should continue to pay them through my subs.

Everything I have learnt since has contributed to my decision a few months back. There is a fetid stench of corruption and entitlement in the extreme right wing of the Labour Party. And indeed for those who call themselves “centrists”. They are not. They are Tories but pretend not to be and should continuously be called out.

I appreciate and understand the reasons why Labour Party members wish to stay and fight from within. I support their right to do this, and I know that Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and others will stay and fight in their own ways. For that I give them, and all real socialist MPs, my absolute respect.

But I can’t do it any more. I didn’t vote for Keir Starmer as leader but accepted the result as a democratic choice. Then he announced his Shadow Cabinet, packed with the right wing MPs who spent 5 years at least working, in tandem with the mainstream media, at demonising Jeremy Corbyn. Then he sacked Rebecca Long Bailey, someone who has, at least, a socialist bone in her body.

Now we have the Labour “leaks” report, more work on demonising Jeremy Corbyn and the possibility of the Labour Party becoming bankrupt after “settling” with the people who seem to be complicit in bullying behaviour that should have had them thrown out of any organisation. There are many skeletons in the closet of the Labour Party hierarchy that need to be exhumed. Maybe a court case would open cans of worms that they would rather remained buried.

So, should I stay or should I go? I’ve already gone. But I remain a committed socialist looking for a political entity that will reflect my views. The current Labour Party does not.

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