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Submission, Part 4

In his FT column today, Janan Ganesh doffs his hat to reality:

Today, lots of people will end a romance, or stop fighting a terminal illness, or let an argumentative colleague have the last word, or fold a bad hand at the poker table. “Nobody likes a quitter” but prudent capitulation is a part of life. Junior doctors in England have saved their dignity and perhaps some lives by backing down from strike action. Would we rather they showed valour for its own sake?

Because our culture accords no honour to the act of giving up, the remaining moderates in Britain’s Labour party cannot be seen to entertain it. Jeremy Corbyn renewed his leadership over the weekend. The left is rampant. A reverse McCarthyism, with socialists doing the interrogation, is the daily lot of critical MPs. And still they will not resign the Labour whip to form a new party.

That is their decision. It is easy for commentators to will a formal breakaway that others would have to perform. But the least they could do is spare us another round of their fighting talk. They will “never surrender”, you see. The comeback “starts now”, apparently. The people who brought you Owen Smith, pallid flatterer of Mr Corbyn’s worldview and unwanted alternative to him, demand to be reckoned with.

Their plan, such as it exists, is to outnumber the left by recruiting hundreds of thousands of pragmatic voters to the party while refreshing themselves intellectually. The first of these projects seems fanciful, the second unnecessary.

The people they want tend not to join political parties. Their participation in real life gets in the way. An entirely fresh movement founded on the pro-European centre-left could, perhaps, attract those who feel dispossessed by Mr Corbyn and what is shaping up to be a hard exit from the EU. An invitation into an old, tainted party to fight ideologues who know the difference between Leninism and anarcho-syndicalism for mastery of things called the National Executive Committee is, for many people, a refusable offer.

If that is really their best idea – and Janan Ganesh is well connected, so he would know – then Labour’s centrist MPs deserve neither respect nor sympathy at this point. They already tried to pack the membership with an influx of moderates who would rise up against Jeremy Corbyn, and it didn’t work, Corbyn was re-elected by an even greater majority. And their new cunning plan is to try the same trick again?

Ganesh concludes:

If this reads like a counsel of despair, it should. There is a reasonable chance, and it becomes stronger by the day, that Gordon Brown will turn out to have been the last Labour prime minister. Even if the rebels dislodge Mr Corbyn and install one of their own, the public will remember their party as one that voted for the hard left twice in as many years. There are such things as lost causes. There is something to be said for giving up and starting again.

They will do no such thing, of course. They will insult our intelligence by talking up a mass harvest of new centrist members and fall back on the wheezing old line they always quote when their steadfastness is in doubt. In 1960, during another struggle with the left, Hugh Gaitskell, the Labour leader at the time, said he would “fight, fight and fight again to save the party we love”.

So much of Labour’s internal culture is contained in that magnificent and deranged line. In the normal world, you are not meant to love a political party. It is not your family. It is a machine with a function: in Labour’s case, the material improvement of working people’s lives through parliamentary means. If it is broken, fix it. If it cannot be fixed, build a new one.

Sentimentality made Labour moderates stick with leaders they should have culled. It made them open their party to the wider left. And it keeps them in a fight they cannot win.

Gradually they come to realise what this blog has been saying for months – that New Labour is irreversibly dead and buried, and that this is Jeremy Corbyn’s party now. The centrists are not merely taking a break – they have been turfed out, just as the old-school socialists were once marginalised and frozen out by Neil Kinnock, John Smith and Tony Blair.

The options are to accept that it is Jeremy Corbyn’s turn for the next four years, or do the decent thing and split from the Labour Party to form their own new party of the centre-left (while watching nervously to see what percentage of the Labour grassroots membership follows them out the door in solidarity).

Honour can be found in either submission or divorce – but please, spare us from another year of overwrought, teenage drama and soap opera shenanigans.

 

UPDATE: Read Submission Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here.

 

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Still No Sign Of Introspection From Labour’s Defeated Centrists

Day +1 of Jeremy Corbyn’s reconfirmed reign as leader of the Labour Party, and while there is much self-indulgent and self-involved wailing and gnashing of teeth among those who opposed Corbyn about what horrors may now befall them, there is still precious little introspection as to why the forces of centrist Labour were so thoroughly routed in the first place, twice now in the space of twelve months.

There are, however, a few green shoots of realisation in the left-wing media that it is no longer sufficient to blame the rise of Corbyn on far-left “bullies”, social media “abusers”, Marxist infiltrators or the “party within a party” Momentum. Finally, we are starting to see greater acknowledgement of something that this blog has been saying for months – that people are abandoning the bi-partisan centrist consensus because it was a failure; because it failed to speak to their hopes, aspirations and problems, while it was simultaneously undermined by more ideologically compelling offerings on the Left and the Right.

Here’s Owen Jones, continuing his epiphany from last month and belatedly coming to the same conclusion that this blog reached over a year ago, during the last Labour leadership contest:

Corbyn’s most ideological opponents should also take time to reflect on their own failures. Lacking a coherent and inspiring vision, they left a vacuum and are furious it was filled. When New Labour triumphed in 1997, social democrats were on the march across western Europe. Today, the German social democrats – whose leader promotes Blair-type third way politics – hover between 18% and 22% in the opinion polls. Spain’s social democrats have a telegenic leader, but haemorrhage support to the radical left. If Labour’s right had an obvious route map to power, they would not been in such a parlous state.

Also taking the Labour centrists to task is Dr. Eliza Filby, King’s College historian and author of “God and Mrs Thatcher”, who writes in the Guardian:

So, what now for Labour centrists? They may choose to sit and wait for Corbyn to fail. But by then it might be too late and a split inevitable. Collaboration with Corbynistas might be too hard to stomach and impossible to maintain. One thing that centrists could do is stop blaming Corbyn for everything and take a long look in the mirror. The foundations of leftwing centrism have completely crumbled and fresh thinking is required.

What should be at the forefront of their minds for both MPs and members is the future of the Labour voter. Ukip will redouble its efforts in Labour heartlands and, with the possible resurgence of the Lib Dems and the strength of the SNP, Labour MPs of all shades might find there is no longer a loyal electorate on which they can draw.

Quite. For too long, Labour’s centrist MPs have acted as though the path back to political power for a broadly centre-left social democratic party is quite simple – that all they need to do is tack slightly to the left of the already-centrist Tories while making sure to drone on endlessly about “fairness” and “equality” so that voters know that they are the more compassionate of the two options. But this is a dangerous nonsense.

The Tories under David Cameron (and likely continuing under Theresa May) have pursued a relentlessly centrist course, essentially “Blairism with an empty Treasury”. The so-called austerity which the Left screeches about is largely a figment of the imagination, being largely comprised of reduced increases in year-on-year spending rather than flat-out budget freezes or cuts. George Osborne set a relatively unambitious deficit reduction target, failed to meet it and then lied about the government’s progress during the 2015 general election campaign. It’s hard to see what less the Labour centrists would have done had they been in charge over this period – the NHS and international aid were already ludicrously ringfenced from cuts at the expense of core functions like national defence.

So given this context, what is the Super Secret, Super Awesome centrist Labour plan to get back into power? We don’t know, because they never told us, even as they raged against the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. And they never told us because they don’t actually have a plan. The Labour centrists have singularly failed to articulate an alternative agenda for government, or to explain what they would do with their beloved big, activist state at a time of limited public funds. If “austerity” is so bad, how much of it would the Labour centrists cancel? They never told us.

All we really know is that the Labour centrists desperately want to overturn the result of the EU referendum, thumbing their noses at democracy and asserting the Westminster establishment’s right to do as it pleases and act in its own interests. And this isn’t a tremendous vote-winning stance, with more than half of Labour-supporting Brexit voters now so enraged with the antidemocratic murmurings of the centrist MPs that they now no longer plan to vote for the party, as LabourList reported:

More than half of Labour voters who backed Brexit in June’s referendum no longer support the party, according to a new poll.

The news will reiterate the scale of the challenge for whoever is announced as the winner of the Labour leadership contest tomorrow – widely expected to be a comfortable re-election for Jeremy Corbyn. The leader will be faced with the prospect of a divided party and an increasingly insecure support base.

Times/YouGov polling released this morning shows that 52 per cent of people who backed Labour in 2015 and a Leave vote in the EU referendum have doubts about their continued support for the party.

Around a third of Labour voters supported an Out vote in June, meaning that over 1.6 million Brexit backers have abandoned their support for Labour.

Many of the biggest margins of victory for Leave came in some of Labour’s traditional heartlands, with areas across the North East, North West, Wales and Midlands seeing large votes to leave the EU.

So in other words, what little we know of the alternative centrist agenda for the Labour Party is that they would immediately take action to drive 1.6 million of their core working class, Brexit-supporting base into the arms of either the Tories or UKIP. That doesn’t sound very politically astute to me, particularly from a group of machine politicians who take every opportunity they can to accuse Jeremy Corbyn of political amateurism.

But that’s all they have right now. The centrists of the PLP know that they hate Jeremy Corbyn because he is “unelectable” (as though the Overton window of British politics has never been moved before, when the right circumstances align with the right person to exploit them), but they don’t have a clear alternative of their own.

The arrogance of the centrists is shocking beyond measure. They exploited a period of political turmoil in Britain to knife their own leader in the back for being too left-wing, and yet not one of them could be bothered to do the homework to come up with an alternative vision for Britain or programme for opposition. They simply expected their chastened party members to submit to their authority as high-and-mighty MPs, asking them to overturn their recent endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn while failing to offer them a meaningful alternative (Owen Smith spent the leadership campaign pretending to be every bit as left-wing as Corbyn, while Angela Eagle whined about being “my own woman” but failed to enunciate a single policy of her own). No wonder the party membership told the PLP to go take a hike, in the clearest possible terms.

Thankfully, there are a few signs that left-wing thinkers are becoming sick of the centrists’ arrogance and their “born to rule the Labour Party” mentality. But it needs to be far more widespread. Instead of chummy, collegiate sympathy with Labour’s centrists-in-exile, the Westminster media need to start asking what Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents would actually do differently, and what their vision for Britain really is. They need to be put under pressure and shamed until they either articulate such an alternative vision or skulk away into the corner of British political life where they currently belong.

At present, Theresa May’s Conservatives hold the centre ground (albeit with a paternalistic, authoritarian leaning) while Jeremy Corbyn holds the Left. If the Labour centrists are as politically astute and as great a potential election-winning force as they want everybody to believe, they shouldn’t have any trouble outlining for us their compelling, alternative centre-left policy prescription for Britain, a manifesto so challenging and inspiring that it will deliver a 1997-style landslide if only they are given the chance to take back control of the Labour Party.

So come on, then. Where is it?

 

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Live Blog: Jeremy Corbyn Elected Leader Of The Labour Party (Again)

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Jeremy Corbyn destroys Owen Smith’s pathetic candidacy, is re-elected leader of the Labour Party – Live Blog

Contact: semipartisansam@gmail.com

 

13:26

At this point I’m not sure what more there is to say. All of the arguments about how the Labour Party ended up in this position have been stated and restated over and over.

Inglorious defeat was long predicted by this blog – not least here, here and here.

One can only think that the restless, self-entitled centrists have shot themselves (and their party) in the foot with this reckless and doomed leadership challenge – and for what? Corbynism, however misguided, has earned the right to be tested at a general election. And all of these furious attempts by the PLP to circumvent that process and disenfranchise Jeremy Corbyn’s base have only hardened his support – and strengthened the impression that the centrist Westminster establishment do not trust the British electorate to choose from a full palette of political shades, insisting on artificially limiting our choice beforehand lest we make the “wrong” choices.

As this blog recently noted:

One way or another, the establishment seems determined not to give the quaintly antiquated socialism of Jeremy Corbyn the opportunity to fail on its own. Labour’s centrist MPs do so because they are hungry to pursue what they see as the quickest route back to power (and some fear losing their seats in a 2020 anti-Corbyn landslide), and the rest of the political and media establishment do so because they are alarmed by Corbyn’s views on NATO, Trident and other issues, and do not trust the British people to likewise see the flaws in these ideas and reject them.

Of course, the sad irony is that by going to such extreme lengths to prevent Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist ideas being tested in a general election, the establishment is doing more than anyone else – more even than Corbyn himself – to harden support for those failed ideas, ensuring that they live on even longer past their “sell by” date.

Furthermore, the idea of centrist MPs enforcing what is essentially a de facto ideological test for any politician seeking high national office is grossly offensive to our democracy, revealing the establishment’s contempt for the people in all its hateful glory. We the people are more than capable of determining which political ideas are good, bad, offensive, dangerous or otherwise, and we have no need for a sanctimonious elite to pre-screen our choices for us.

The only things necessary to defeat Corbynism are Jeremy Corbyn himself and the British electorate. It’s sad that Labour MPs and the political / media establishment are simultaneously too selfish and too distrustful of the British people to realise this obvious truth.

This failed coup against Jeremy Corbyn has also revealed the utter dearth of talent among Labour’s centrist MPs. Even the supposed “big beasts” are little more than field mice – none of them had the courage to put their own political careers and future leadership ambitions on the line by challenging Jeremy Corbyn, leaving it to the underwhelming Owen Smith to carry their banner.

But worse than failing to field a serious candidate, the centrists had no vision to offer. Like Jeremy Corbyn or loathe him, he has a vision for a different Britain and principles which he has stuck to for decades, not bending and shapeshifting in an attempt to flatter different interest groups. The centrists offered no vision at all, other than their naked hunger for power. But if you cannot articulate in an inspiring way what you choose to do with that power, it will not be granted to you.

Will the Labour centrists finally learn this lesson? I have absolutely zero confidence that they will.

12:40

Submission.

See my “submission” series – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

12:29

Good question from Norman Smith to Diane Abbott – “why shouldn’t local parties deselect local MPs who continue to be vocally critical of a popularly elected leader?”

Abbott deflects, choosing to be polite and magnanimous today – but Norman Smith’s question is a fair one. Why should pro-Corbyn CLPs continue to tolerate Labour MPs who do not share their beliefs and actively seek to undermine Corbyn’s leadership?

In fact – mandatory reselection for all!

12:24

To do otherwise would have required competence and vision, qualities with which the angry, self-entitled centrists are not exactly brimming over.

12:22

Thinking of starting an “it’s time for the Labour Party to come together” counter on this blog. Nearly everybody interviewed on the BBC so far has used that phrase, however unconvincingly.

12:16

Interesting report from Huffington Post – apparently Owen Smith “won” among under 24s (and pre-2015 members) according to an exit poll:

Owen Smith beat Jeremy Corbyn among Labour party members who joined the party before 2015, a new exit poll has revealed.

Although he was defeated in the overall election, the YouGov/ElectionData poll found that Smith also won among 18-24 year-olds and Scottish party members.

The survey found that 63% of pre-2015 party members had backed the Pontypridd MP, to just 37% for Corbyn.

But the current leader had a huge lead among the tens of thousands who have joined the party since Ed Miliband quit, with 74% of them backing him to just 24% for Smith.

Among those who had joined since Corbyn became leader, a massive 83% said they had voted for him in the 2016 leader election, and 15% voted Smith.

While this sounds quite surprising at face value, digging a little deeper I’m not so sure that it is unexpected. Look at the young people who typically get into politics – a significant number of them tend to be university Labour/Conservative types, people who entertain either vague or determined ambitions to one day climb up the greasy pole and launch political careers of their own. Young Labour activists such as these likely want to taste political power one day rather than dwell in permanent opposition, and since prevailing wisdom (right or wrong) is that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable is it really surprising that many of them fell into line behind the candidate who looked the part of the typical, professional political candidate? I don’t think so.

12:14

Yeah, I picked up on this too:

12:11

Not a whole lot of sympathy for Owen Smith from the Left:

Good. Owen Smith is an awful politician and was a terrible leadership candidate. He deserves neither consolation nor sympathy.

12:06

Chuka Umunna on the BBC, on the defensive against the potential deselection of “good, hardworking and popular” local Labour MPs.

Newsflash, Chuka – if they were so tremendously “popular” among the party activists who sweat blood to get them elected to Parliament in the first place, they wouldn’t be at risk of deselection. But since they have openly defied the wishes of their own local party members, they must now steel themselves to face the consequences.

12:02

Hilarious watching sulking centrists stalking out of the conference hall and refusing to even talk to the BBC reporter (Norman Smith) stationed outside. They have only themselves to blame for pitching the biggest hissy fit in the world against Corbyn’s leadership while utterly failing to come up with a compelling vision of their own for the future of the Labour Party and Britain.

12:00

Well, that wasn’t a bad victory speech from Jeremy Corbyn – far more magnanimous than I would have been under the circumstances. He congratulated the supporters and activists of both leadership campaigns in a general paean to political activism, and tried to immediately move the focus forward by plugging some big campaign for education (basically against grammar schools) next week.

I’m not sure if that will be enough to glue the warring Labour Party back together – however many times the phrase “we all need to come together” are uttered by different Labour MPs and officials over the course of the day. But for Jeremy Corbyn, it is clearly now business as usual.

11:50

And it’s Jeremy Corbyn (naturally), with 313,209 votes of 506,428 cast, meaning a breakdown of Corbyn 61.8% / Smith 38.2%.

 

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Julia Hartley-Brewer Is Wrong To Fear Mandatory Reselection Of MPs

Why are conservatives so concerned that the Labour Party is moving in a more socialist direction?

On last night’s Question Time, journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer – a journalist with whom this blog often agrees – held forth on the state of the Labour Party, and calls by some activists for the implementation of mandatory re-selection of MPs prior to a general election in order to make the Parliamentary Labour Party more representative of the membership.

Huffington Post reports:

Journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer said Britons would “never elect a Socialist Government” on Thursday’s edition of the programme, as Corbyn is expected to be re-elected Labour leader easily on Saturday.

She was speaking after Blairite Labour MP Liz Kendall was the target of an audience member who advocated the mandatory re-selection of MPs before they could defend their seats in a General Election, something Corbyn supporters could use to remove those critical of the Labour Party leader.

“What a depressing conversation, genuinely,” Hartley-Brewer said.

“I’m a great believer in democracy. The thing about democracy is you have a Government but you also have Her Majesty’s Opposition.

“The reality is the Labour Party needs to make a decision about whether it wants to be a serious alternative Government in waiting or a Friday night Marxist book club. It can’t be both.”

This, of course, is a common refrain from conservative types either hoping to have some fun at Labour’s expense or express genuine concern about what they see as an unbalancing of Britain’s political system.

Personally, I don’t understand why so many prominent movement Conservatives – people who would never vote Labour in a million years – are so upset that the Labour Party is once again expressing genuine socialist tendencies, and desperate for it to tack back to the centre and become an electoral threat to the Tories again. Even after the EU referendum have these people learned nothing about the dangers of a stultifying cross-party consensus in the middle of British politics which shuts out whole swathes of people who dare to hold staunchly conservative or socialist (or individualist/authoritarian) beliefs?

The Huffington Post continues:

Hartley Brewer then defended [Liz] Kendall, calling her a “very good, very sensible hard-working MP” who “talks about the real issues affecting real people”. She bemoaned the fate of Labour MPs who face either “deselection for speaking sense” or losing their seats at an election.

I can’t help but feel that Julia Hartley-Brewer is failing to consider the upside of mandatory reselection for conservatives. Finally, real small government conservatives would have a mechanism to get rid of statist, pro-European Tory-lite interlopers like the pointless Anna Soubry, and those numerous other MPs who pretended to be staunchly eurosceptic during their initial constituency selection procedures only to come running to the Remain campaign like loyal dogs the moment that David Cameron snapped his fingers. Don’t Conservative Party members deserve a parliamentary party – and a government – which more closely reflects their interests and priorities, too? And what better way to do this than through mandatory reselection?

Yet many people with whom this blog usually finds common cause seem to see this issue differently. They seem aghast at the idea that a party founded on socialist ideals should actually dare to be socialist, which is puzzling to me. Julia Hartley-Brewer will probably never vote Labour for the remainder of her lifetime – so why the concern that Labour avoid becoming a “Marxist book club”? At a time when the Conservative Party is so soul-sappingly centrist in outlook, would she really rather have a battle-ready, equally centrist Labour Party nipping at its heels?

As this blog recently commented:

It is as though it is no longer enough for the party we personally support to reflect our own views and priorities – we now expect opposing parties to reflect them too. This is a politically stultifying and increasingly ludicrous state of affairs. As a small-c conservative I believe strongly in maintaining our nuclear deterrent, a strong military, the NATO alliance, low taxes and small government. But I don’t for a moment expect the leader of the Labour Party to hold these exact positions, too. And while it would be calamitous were Jeremy Corbyn to become prime minister by some dark miracle and actually enact all of his policies, I trust in the wisdom of the British people to see through his policies and reject Corbynism at the ballot box.

And that’s the difference, I suppose, between this blog and the political and media establishment. I trust the people to look at the political parties and refuse to vote for a party campaigning on a manifesto which is so clearly damaging to our economy and national interests. The establishment do not trust the people, because they do not respect the people. They have no faith that the British people will make rational decisions when presented with a range of political alternatives – therefore they see it as their job to artificially limit our choice beforehand, taking certain options off the table by declaring them “unacceptable” and suppressing their very discussion by mainstream politicians.

Besides, who should be the judge of whether an MP is “sensible” and “hardworking”? Come general election time, surely the best people to pass judgment are those from the local constituency party, who know best whether their MP is adequately representing their values. If they are dissatisfied with their candidate, why should their views be steamrollered by a cliquish Westminster conspiracy to protect the centrist Good Old Boys (and Girls)?

If Labour’s centrist MPs really do speak such “sense”, they will surely have no difficulty in winning the support of thousands of non-aligned voters who do not subscribe to the Jeremy Corbyn agenda. If they are so wise and pragmatic, surely they could not fail to succeed by striking out on their own and forming a new centrist party?

And yet the centrists are going nowhere, because they have no compelling vision of their own to offer the electorate, and many of them would struggle to even win back their deposits if they ran as independent candidates or under the banner of a new centrist party. Therefore their only hope, in the short term, is to cling on to their seats despite often being loathed by their own local parties, in the hope that one of them will come up with an alternative policy agenda which actually commands enthusiasm and respect. And frankly, few Labour centrist MPs have done anything to deserve such an unfair helping hand.

The cold, hard truth is that the Labour Party has shifted decisively to the Left. Julia Hartley-Brewer’s attitude seems to be “to hell with the party members who actually do all of the hard work and unglamorous campaigning – they should be lumbered with a centrist leader they despise, just so that British politics can continue to be fought over a vanishingly small sliver of real estate in the centre ground”. Personally, I find that idea repellent.

In a democracy, decisions are made and influence is wielded by the people who actually bother to show up. And right now, the Corbynite Left are showing up and making their voices heard, while the various centrists (despite their prestige) are able to conjure up all the excitement of a cold bucket of sick. The left-wing have earned the right to be heard, while the centrists have demonstrably not. Hearing what the Corbynites have to say and abiding by their wishes is therefore not only the fair thing for the Labour Party to do, it is the only remotely democratic thing for the Labour Party to do.

And the proper reaction from conservatives is not to brim over with sympathy for the poor Labour centrist MPs who have so grievously lost touch with their own party base – it is to demand a similar rebirth of radicalism on the Right.

Julia Hartley-Brewer is aghast at the idea of mandatory reselection for Labour MPs, but I say bring it on. Let the Tories have their own version of Momentum too, something to put a rocket up the government’s complacent and depressingly un-ideological posterior – and then give Conservative Party members the same opportunity to shape the future of their party, hopefully by dragging it away from the smoking ruins of Cameron-era centrism.

 

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Submission, Part 3

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As they go down in flames for the second time in a year, Labour’s rootless and uninspiring centrists deserve neither respect for their “principles” nor sympathy for their plight

Quick, everybody reach for the tiny violins. The Telegraph’s Asa Bennett has penned a tremulous ode to Labour’s centrist MPs, encouraging these noble Men and Women of Principle (…) to never surrender in the face of Jeremy Corbyn’s imminent re-election as Labour leader.

Read the whole thing – entitled “Labour moderates have nothing to gain by kissing and making up with Jeremy Corbyn“. It is hilariously overwrought, and conjures much the same air as the Titanic’s band calmly playing “Nearer My God To Thee” as the doomed vessel slowly slipped beneath the icy waters of the Atlantic.

Money quotes:

Corbynistas know who their enemies are in the party. Don’t forget they have already divided up MPs by how loyal they are in secret lists. People like Mr Jarvis and Ms de Piero have made their disquiet known about Mr Corbyn, with the former believing he would lead the party to “electoral annihilation”. They have stuck their heads above the parapet to call for new leadership – a brave decision, but not one they can pretend never happened.

And Corbyn is not in a similar position? At least the centrists have one clear enemy and know exactly on who to focus their attempts at destabilisation. Jeremy Corbyn, despite being overwhelmingly popular among the party membership, is surrounded by disloyal MPs who have been working to undermine his leadership from Day 1. If the people who were supposed to work for you in your shadow cabinet were leaking damning quotes and incendiary opinions to the media like a broken tap, wouldn’t you try to implement some rudimentary system to remind yourself of who could be trusted and who would simply abuse any trust and autonomy to further their own aims rather than those of the party? I know I would.

Besides, that is the trouble with saying incendiary things to the media. There was always the risk that by attacking Corbyn in public, he would go on to triumph nonetheless, leaving his critics in an awkward position. But the answer is not to go on as an increasingly bitter heckler from the back benches. The answer is to either accept the overwhelming verdict of party members and try to cooperate constructively, or if this is impossible, to maintain a position of dignified silence on the backbenches. And then there is the nuclear option, which none of the centrist MPs will take out of overwhelming regard for their own political careers – if they really can no longer abide being in the Party of Corbyn they can always leave and join a different political party.

More:

Some MPs must be tempted to return in order to help Labour fight Theresa May’s government (even if their fellow moderates may think them scabs). This may help the Opposition put up a vaguely professional front, but it will be a gift to the Tories, who can relentlessly use these new shadow ministers’ past criticisms of their leader against them. Mr Corbyn is already struggling to convince voters that he could be a better Prime Minister than Mrs May, so how would that change by him bringing back a bunch of MPs who think he’s useless?

Again, this is shallow partisan thinking. As we are hopefully discovering in the aftermath of the EU referendum and the vote for Brexit, there is more to life than optics and how well things lend themselves to snappy soundbites. Might working alongside Jeremy Corbyn lead to some awkward questions from the media for those MPs who were vocally critical of him in the past? Sure. So power through the awkwardness. Reach out to Keith Vaz for tips on doing so, he has oceans of experience.

More:

Jeremy Corbyn’s former critics would be foolish to think that they can be welcomed back into the fold without any problem. Their return would be taken as sign of ultimate capitulation, and Corbynistas will not forget which side of the Labour leadership contest they fought on.

Asa Bennett is acting like Jeremy Corbyn is uniquely thin-skinned and petty, when in fact the opposite is the case. Corbyn has remained courteous even to MPs who have vented really quite unprofessional sentiments to the media. Will the insults be forgotten? No, probably not – that’s just human nature. But if any Labour leader in recent history is likely to work with his public critics, it would be Jeremy Corbyn.

Besides, in his overwhelming concern for the fate of centrist Labour MPs, Asa Bennett seems to be forgetting the pantheon of misfortunate MPs who were purged from the Courts of Tony Blair or Gordon Brown, their government careers abruptly terminated simply for showing too much favour to one or other of these egotistical megalomaniacs. Is Bennett really suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn being a bit frosty to MPs who openly called him “useless” on television is less acceptable than Prime Minister Gordon Brown throwing staplers and mobile phones at cowering aides who incurred his wrath?

And finally (my emphasis in bold):

This year’s Labour leadership election is drawing to a close, and Mr Corbyn’s survival is all but assured. Labour MPs have to decide whether to stay true to their beliefs and carry on the fight, or surrender and beg for a job. Moderates may seek a deal which means they can serve, but what is the point in carrying on such a charade?

WHAT BELIEFS?

Will somebody please tell me what high and noble principles these saintly centrist MPs consider so inviolate that they are honour-bound to refuse to serve alongside Jeremy Corbyn? Because for the life of me I cannot figure it out. Indeed, the very nature of being a centrist typically involves either a willingness to compromise on absolutely core and fundamental ideological principles, or the complete lack of any such principles in the first place. So what one Jeremy Corbyn policy is so offensive to the centrist rebels that they could not bring themselves to support it if focus groups suddenly showed it to be overwhelmingly popular?

Refusing to serve alongside Jeremy Corbyn because of deep and irreconcilable differences over policy matters would be understandable, even noble – but that is clearly not the case here. After all, Labour centrist MPs have enthusiastically thrown their support behind Owen Smith, who is campaigning on a nearly equally retro socialist programme as Corbyn. No, the Labour centrists are rebelling not because of unbridgeable differences but because they think Corbyn’s presence at the top of the ticket makes it harder for the party to get back into government and for their own pampered posteriors to get back into ministerial limousines. And that is contemptible.

That’s the rub. The only “belief” which unites the Labour centrist is the New Labour instinct to be all things to all people – to say anything and compromise on any belief in the pursuit of power for its own sake, while sanctimoniously pretending to be wiser than partisans on either side. The centrist creed, such as it is, would be “nothing is sacred, everything is negotiable”. Jeremy Corbyn disagrees, and for thus making Labour’s mountain back to power that much harder to climb they cannot forgive him.

If these centrists genuinely believe that the best policies for Britain would involve tacking just ever so slightly to the left of Theresa May’s centrist Conservative Party while warbling on about “compassion” and “equality” then they should say so – maybe not in so many words, as that would be political suicide, but they should make clear where they accept centrist Tory orthodoxy and where they would move to the Left. But they won’t do this.

The Labour centrists love to prance around in public as though there is some vast ideological gulf between the Evil Tor-ees and their noble selves, yet give them a leader who can actually put clear water between his own policy ideas and those of the Conservative government and they all scramble over one another to knife him in the back.

Asa Bennett could not be more wrong – the Labour centrist rebels of the PLP could not be less deserving of sympathy or respect. They had their opportunity to stand for something, anything clearly different, yet all of their remaining big beasts were too selfish and cowardly to run for the leadership, while the man who eventually became their champion – Owen Smith – spent the entire leadership contest asking members to vote for him because he was just as socialist as Jeremy Corbyn.

So when should we begin to feel sorry for the centrists, or give their incessant complaints another hearing? How about when one of them dares to stand up and articulate a positive, alternative vision for centre-leftist government which doesn’t just sound good on paper, but which actually generates the faintest amount of interest from the general public.

I suspect that we will be waiting a good, long while.

 

UPDATE: Read Submission Part 1 here, Part 2 here.

 

Jeremy Corbyn - PMQs

Top Image: Mirror

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