And with one bound he was free…to face the continuing leadership crisis July 13, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
As we learned last night when the BLP NEC voted conclusively to allow his name on the ballot. While I would think in some respects Corbyn has been too moderate in terms of pushing to overturn the nostrums of political activity in the UK he is at least in situ. As to his presentation, bitter as this may be, the reality is that despite the insincerity in regard to the rhetoric about him from some quarters he has been he has been weaker, less forceful than one might hope, oddly taciturn and truculent, perhaps too schooled in opposition than in leadership. And yet. A sense of calm when all else…
But for all that the thing I dislike most intensely is that Corbyn’s democratic legitimation of last year is ignored. It is not that that legitimation lasts forever. It requires testing in electoral contests or absent them across a reasonable period of time. Nor are the views of the PLP entirely without substance or validity. At some point they would have to have a significant input into the equation. There’s no point in arguing that that his ability to increase support is unimportant, it’s crucially important, otherwise why have a Labour party, why contest elections, why fret over whether he is leader or not. Because while it is true that a more leftward LP can change some of the tone, it cannot, by definition, change the substance without state power. And likewise the views of the PLP, given that they are contesting so many constituencies with each being its own little crucible, are important too.
But there’s something unseemly, something unnecessary, something perverse about the efforts to dislodge him so shortly after he was elected leader. And the reasons for this are not simply bound up in fairness to him, thought that’s a not unimportant part of it, but also in hard-headed practical political analysis.
His capacity to connect with the broader electorate remains largely untested. The referendum was sui generis, almost by definition. And yet, I still think that he had a better referendum campaign than might have been envisaged prior to it. That it might indeed have given him pause for thought as to how best he could marshal his programme through the LP – an LP fully a good two-thirds, maybe more, of whose voters supported Remain, whose members were even more wedded to that, a party who as leader he must take account of such matters.
His by-election track record is far from poor. Indeed it’s good.
The Tories are, it is true, doing well, better than they might even hope, in polling, though that is – one has to suspect – in part due to a sense of relief at the way in which finally there’s a move to some degree of stability after a fortnight and more of conflict at the top of that party. That may well not last for ever, particularly if Brexit as a process becomes contested itself. And without her own legitimation how long will May’s popularity last?
In a reasonable weighing of the options and the pluses and minuses all these factors would have to be taken account of.
And, as I’ve noted before, Michael White, who however much and with what good reason some dislike him remains a far from an uncritical observer to put it mildly, made the point that Corbyn might well develop an appeal as the term of this parliament lengthened. Certainly absent the noises off from various worthies in the PLP and further afield he would have been able to present a more united front to the world since his election. As it was, as with Brexit, the LP still retained a very good portion of its vote, has managed to keep its head above water.
Of course there are events. The collective disintegration evident in the PLP as regards his leadership is – one has to suspect, driven by electoral rather than supposed “principled” reasons, by the threat of an election in the next weeks or months. And Corbyn might well falter or fail. But their own actions have almost guaranteed that outcome were an election held any time in the near future.
And just as the overly exaggerated hopes pinned on him are inappropriate and bound to lead to disillusionment, so too are the overly exaggerated fears about him. Given the chance one suspects he will do better than his opponents will ever give him credit. A calming presence. A rebuilding, a renewed emphasis on the ground, stronger left approaches. All important given the LPs chances of an electoral victory have been slight in relation to the next election anyhow.
And I return to the basic point, it is simply too soon to tell how matters will proceed in relation to an election, at least one held a year or two out according to May. Perhaps she will pull a fast one and run to the country in the next few months, but perhaps not, perhaps she will want to calm the boat. Or perhaps she will treat the referendum itself as sufficient vindication of whatever policy she moves with.
I don’t believe in the talk of new parties. Michael White made another good point recently that it is unbelievably difficult to start a new party, whereas it is much easier to work within an existing one. The idea of SDP II is unlikely. And how does it work anyhow? But when one looks at those who have attacked his leadership from the off, or those who have recently converted to those ranks, what is their Plan B?
I can’t see it. And it shouldn’t be even an issue until Corbyn is given sufficient time to demonstrate his capabilities free of the constant drip drip of antagonistic briefings and suchlike. If Corbyn survives, and on any democratic level he should, the LP will be an uneasy entity – perhaps one where civil war is only just short of breaking out or perhaps where that civil war is frozen. Who does that benefit? What were they thinking? Where does this leave the only serious alternative to the Tories in contention?
If this piece seems sour and bitter – well so it is. I’ve never been a Corbyn fan as such, but he has been oddly impressive as time progresses. He is a clearly decent, in the best sense of the word, person who even his opponents admit, those with any balance, as such. He deserves better than this. The party he leads deserves better than this.