Friday, 20 March 2020

This past few weeks have only confirmed Corbynite Labour’s unfitness to govern

Image result for 10 downing street imagesAnd so, while not wanting to be complacent, many of us dare to hope that the shutters are finally lifting on the Corbynite era, where the openly continuity-Corbyn candidates seem poised to lose in both Leader and Deputy Leader elections.

The beginning of the end, fingers crossed.

Even were that not the case, it seems that the dying embers of that Corbynite leadership seems bent on helping them lose, through a series of actions so cack-handed, so politically tone-deaf, that they leave even their most ardent supporters within the party are left struggling to comprehend them.

First there was the Trevor Phillips suspension from the party by Labour’s high command.

For those unfamiliar with Phillips’ record, he is a decent and sometimes thought-provoking former politician, who was the first leader of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), set up by Labour as a real step forward in protecting minorities of all kinds.

Oh and, we might just mention in passing, it is the organisation currently investigating the Labour party for anti-Semitism.

In short, Labour has decided, a matter of weeks before the likely-critical EHRC report is released, to try and clumsily discredit that organisation by association.

In fact, to try and discredit it on a trumped-up charge of “Islamophobia” for comments made years ago, levelled at a man who has not merely talked about fighting racism – all the while consorting with real racists, like the party’s current leader – but who has genuinely made it a great part of his life’s work to lead institutions and initiatives which promote tolerance between communities.

To try and dump on Phillips is transparently a move both of grubbiness and of desperation, in case we should expect anything less from the Corbyn place-people currently in charge of the party machine.

And then – were this idiocy not sufficient – we might note that the main target of Phillips’ so-called “Islamophobia” was the rape gangs in Northern cities such as Rotherham. Thus neatly putting the party on the side of the rapists and against the overwhelming majority of the British public, most of whom are both disgusted by what went on and perfectly capable of distinguishing between an ordinary Muslim and a Muslim rapist.

But that is not all. The debates have shown even some of our more promising candidates to be batshit crazy on trans self-id, let alone the leaden-footed, continuity-Corbynite duo of Long-Bailey and Burgon.

Happily, for the public in general, this is a minority interest, but these things do not help. The over-long campaign, as happened in 2015, has merely served to point up the relatively low quality of many of the pretenders to be the next PM, while helping to queer the pitch for the incoming leader.

Finally, of course, there has been coronavirus. Corbyn himself, along with his more fanatical followers and outriders, seems intent on removing any last vestiges of vague credibility attached to his tenure as leader. With only a few weeks left to go in the Leader’s Office, his comments reduce to whining that “the government seems complacent”.

No-one in Labour likes Boris Johnson, even among those of us who think the Tories wrong rather than evil. He is quite probably the worst prime minister of the postwar period. But he has both done one smart thing regarding the virus: on policy, he has largely got out of the way and let the experts get on with it.

Not so the Corbynites. So, when we criticise the approach, we are criticising the experts and not the Tories. Poorly-briefed politicians criticising experts, in a time of national crisis, is hardly a good look. It also puts us in the position of carping from the sidelines in a moment when, perhaps unexpectedly, the country is largely pulling together after the painful Brexit divide of the last half-decade.

In other words, the last thing Labour needs right now is to be lumped together with the armchair experts currently filling the airwaves and social media with dangerously uninformed opinions. An intelligent opposition might make the odd, measured criticism, while ultimately supporting the broad thrust of government action, which is what you do in times of national emergency. Political comms 101.

If you doubt the impact that all this is having on the party, you need only look at the Tories’ polling of an incredible 50%, a 21% lead over Labour: extraordinary numbers and for a party with a relatively modest majority.

In summary, we are doing the nigh-on impossible: we are making Boris Johnson look good.

We can only hope that the incoming leader can put down an abundantly clear and differentiating marker regarding the last three-and-a-half years. The last-chance saloon having passed by some time ago, there is precious little margin for error.

This post first published at Labour Uncut

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