Oh Diane! What a car crash this was:
While it is the norm now for party leaders to resign if they lose an election, the problem is that MPs were elected under their banner, their proposed policies, their personality and the Labour Party they have created. There is a fundamental denial of this in the Labour Party and among the Corbynistas that is causing deep and significant problems, which look set to continue. It’s as though they have forgotten that the electorate who voted for the MPs are not drones rubber-stamping the views of the party membership, whoever the party might consist of at a given point in time.
The current PLP reflect the Labour electorate, even if they don’t represent the current party membership. But here is the crux of the matter – the party membership can and will change under any leader. This does not mean that the party can simply pick and choose when they represent the electorate who voted for them. Jeremy Corbyn won the support of Labour’s members, not its electorate, and it is a mistake to assume that they would have voted for Labour if he had been the party leader. The fact that the mandate that was given to the PLP is being so willfully disregarded shows the deep problem that the current Labour Party has.
Over and over again the narrative is “THE PARTY MEMBERSHIP” wants. Actually I would argue that Jeremy, John and Diane don’t really have a clue about what the party membership want because even among the Corbynistas there is some difference in terms of why they voted for him.
It is telling that the last time the membership were asked for their opinion, the vast majority were simply ignored. If tens of thousands of people respond to a survey – as happened with the position on Syria – then actually it is not acceptable to select 2000 of them to base policy on. There is still no answer on the question of why this happened. And no, excuses do not count, a load of which I had the last time I mentioned it.
The gulf between membership and electorate is only set to grow seeing as more and more moderates are choosing to leave the party. And yes the Labour electorate are watching all of this play out. They are watching the hypocrisy at the centre of the ‘newer, kinder’ politics which appears to be little more than a façade.
Diane could have set the tone here after the reshuffle, instead it is clear that she can’t stop herself from making snide remarks and lacks the self awareness that she is doing it! Ah but the right are sniping in the press, etc, I hear you say. Well, actually most Labour MPs have kept their feelings private and disagreed behind closed doors. I had no idea that Keith Vaz (one of the MPs where I live) was going to vote with the government on air strikes or disagreed with Jeremy Corbyn on it prior to the vote. Diane no sooner opened her mouth than criticised those who chose to resign over the cabinet reshuffles. Surely, this actually helps the Corbynistas achieve their goal of cabinet unity, so why bother?
The left of the party would have a lot more credibility if they could actually stick to the principles they claim are important rather than contradicting themselves publicly. It’s all very well saying that we should be fighting the Tories not each other, but that means that the leadership need to set the example on this. Rather than demonstrate repeatedly that they actually do think this is acceptable. There are children who grasp the concept of hypocrisy better.
As for Hilary Benn, he may very well be a thorn in Jeremy Corbyn’s side. But then again he learnt firsthand from a true master. And no, it would appear that Benns don’t blindly follow their parents or their legacy, but forge their own. It may have taken him a bit longer than Tony, but he is getting into his stride. Now there is a good a reason as any to stay and fight to keep the Labour Party a broad church.
This post was originally published on the Labour Teachers website.