And yet more on Corbyn September 20, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Surely this is the most damning thing that Owen Smith has said, from an interview with him published yesterday evening.
“I wasn’t in favour of there being a challenge,” says Smith quickly. “But once a challenge had been made then I felt I needed to stand because I felt that I had something to say about the future of the Labour party, and a lot of other people in the PLP [parliamentary Labour party] felt that about me, which is why they asked me to stand.”
So Smith would have preferred to see Corbyn allowed to carry on for longer?
“Yes, is the honest answer,” he says.
Not that this is an admission of regret about his bid to topple the sitting leader.
“The truth is, things weren’t going well, things aren’t going well. Nine months may be a short period of time but it’s a period of time in which the Labour party has gone backwards,” he says. “We are at a lower ebb than we’ve been in the polls at any time since 1982, and we’re six years into a Tory government and right now they are unfettered, they feel able to act with total impunity.”
Things ‘weren’t going well’ but I’d date that from rather more recently than he would – those front-bench resignations, a PP in permanent war with its leader of nine months, a catastrophe leadership challenge(s) that has been deeply unfair to both Corbyn and those who voted him in. And now we hear that it was too early.
By the way, this supposed existential crisis triggered by the simple fact of Corbyn being leader?
For Smith, it has been a sometimes “lonely” pursuit, away from his wife, Liz, and their three children, and not always surrounded by MPs, many of whom took the opportunity of a break during the summer months.
Smith has not set out a moderate, centrist alternative and would not have a mandate to deliver one. This is not his fault: moderate, “electable” Labour has no innate identity at the moment and only defines itself against others; it is against inequality, but unlike Theresa May, really means it; it is internationalist and open, but not in a George Osborne-y way; it is anti-austerity, but not like one of those lunatic Corbynistas; it is pro-immigrants but, in the interests of realism and winning back its heartlands, anti-immigration; it is strongly in favour of winning elections. It would have taken a truly extraordinary, mercurial, charismatic individual to turn all that into a credible political programme, and Smith should never blame himself that he wasn’t that.
Revelling in the worst of the fringes prevents any meaningful connection with the best. How bizarre this must look to the untrained observer, that an army of new activists arrives and they are dismissed en masse as revolutionaries. Most of them want nothing more radical than to spend less than 70% of their wages on rent; Trotsky would laugh them out of town.
If none of this is possible – if the Corbyn camp is already seeking conciliation, and the resistance is simply implacable – they need to move beyond it, and fast. The Labour MPs who will not work with Corbyn must set up or occupy another party – there was talk of using the Cooperative party as such a vehicle. Those who remain in Labour will have to drop the betrayal narrative and build a story that doesn’t rely on, but crucially doesn’t preclude, working with others.