Friday, 17 July 2020

What does the Labour Right have against Democracy?

Labour is supposed to be a socialist party so why does it even have a right wing which holds the party's ideals and membership in such contempt?

The great Nye Bevan famously said: "The right wing of the Labour Party would rather see it fall into perpetual decline than abide by its democratic decisions." The last five years would suggest little has changed in the Labour Party over the past century.

I remember feeling hugely optimistic about the 2015 Labour leadership result. Finally with Jeremy Corbyn in charge, I believed the Labour Party would represent someone like me who had genuinely been rock bottom and faced hardship my whole life. I and many others finally had a light at the end of the tunnel. We had representation.

In my naivity it did not occur to me, the majority of Labour MPs would revolt against their own democratically-elected leader Jeremy Corbyn, which meant revolting against the Labour membership, against people like me, the hardest up in society who were supposed to be who Labour represented.

I was horrified by the contempt they showed towards us. I was horrified to see them sneer at the Labour manifesto, at policies decided democratically at the annual conference, policies which included things like a £10 an hour minimum wage which would have lifted many out of poverty, nationalisation of key services which would have meant an end to rip-off prices and profiteering, and a green industrial revolution which was aiming to literally save the planet, creating many jobs in the process.

These weren't far left, unachievable ideas. They were fully costed policies which are considered normal throughout northern Europe and elsewhere, and were (and still are) absolutely essential to creating a more equitable society. Yet the so-called "moderate" Labour MPs could not help sneering at the policies they were supposed to endorse, every time the BBC wheeled one of them out to say how terrible the party leader was.

That leader would be Jeremy Corbyn, of course, the man we twice elected to represent our interests. Yes, twice, because the centrists did not accept the result of the first leadership contest which Corbyn won by a landslide, so they tried to stitch up the second contest by keeping Corbyn off the ballot, and when they failed to rig things in favour of the dismal Owen Smith, Mr "Unelectable" rather predictably won by another landslide.

These "moderates" are the same people who told us Britain wanted a People's Vote because they would not accept the democratic outcome of the EU referendum. They insisted Labour would win the next general election by a landslide, if only we switched to a PV. Instead our PV policy gave the Tories their landslide, but the Labour right never cared about victory, they just cared about stopping Corbyn.

Labour would be 20 points ahead under any other leader, they insisted. Well Starmer is ten points behind during his honeymoon period. "Moderates" completely fail to grasp the only people cheering on the Labour right are a handful of people with #FBPE in their Twitter bios and Tories who are delighted to see Labour implode. Core Labour voters are aghast at the Labour right's contempt for democracy and are leaving the party in droves. Some are arguing the left should stay and fight. Why? So we can get another socialist leader, only for the Labour right to sabotage another general election like they sabotaged the last two?

We know how the Labour right felt about the 2017 general election result because we saw their faces, we heard them speak - and then internal messages were made public. These people were devastated Jeremy Corbyn came so close to victory, terrified the man they insisted was unelectable might actually become Prime Minister and achieve meaningful reform in this country. They had the opportunity to vote no confidence in Boris Johnson and make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister. Instead they desperately looked for someone else, anyone else, including Tories like John Major and Ken Clarke!

The contempt they showed to their twice democratically-elected leader was outrageous, as was the contempt they showed for the Labour manifesto, as was the contempt they showed for the EU referendum, as was the contempt they showed for two general election campaigns in which they apparently wanted their own party to lose, as is the contempt they show to the NEC elections in which they do everything to keep left candidates off the slate, including issuing suspensions.

How can the left possibly work with people who are seeking to water down Labour's manifesto, despite Starmer promising the opposite to get himself elected leader? How can we possibly trust this arrogant and deceptive mob whose recent attitudes towards racism have been shocking? The answer is, we can't, so we showed the dignity the "moderates" lacked and we walked away from a project we no longer believe in, knowing any attempt at compromise with those who would vilify us was pointless.

No doubt, many of the Labour right are thrilled by the mass exodus, but they are about to get one hell of a wake up call when they discover neither the left nor right will vote for them, and they are fighting the Lib Dems for the centrist vote. The Labour right are about to discover the democracy they have such contempt for is going to punish them very hard indeed. You don't win an election without offering a meaningful alternative and centrism offers nothing at all.

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