Thursday, July 14, 2016

Kill your idols

Much of what has happened amid the post-referendum circus has been horrifying or ridiculous (and often both at the same time), but one thing has been infuriating and even tragic: the failure of Labour to capitalise on the situation. Rather than forming the credible opposition the country needs and making hay while the Tories imploded through treachery, chicanery and egotism, Labour have instead sought to emulate them, far too preoccupied with bitter internecine squabbling over Jeremy Corbyn's leadership and the direction the party should take.

Gary Younge's recent article for the Guardian sums up the frustration extremely well. Why are members of the Parliamentary Labour Party unable to accept that Corbyn is the leader preferred by the majority of ordinary party members and adamant that he should be undermined and ousted? It's farcical that the current incumbent was almost excluded from the ballot sheet and therefore barred from even attempting to retain a position he gained through a democratic process. As many people have pointed out, it's almost as if his critics are determined to prove he's unelectable.

It's not as if there's any substance to the challenge, either: "The Parliamentary Labour Party has obsessed about nothing else for the best part of a year. In all that time it has not produced a plausible strategy, programme or policy designed to win back those who voted for Corbyn." The best it can offer is Angela Eagle, whose voting record (on Iraq, on Syria, on tuition fees, on the welfare bill) is largely indistinguishable from that of a Tory and thus completely out of step with the views of party members.

In keeping with the general ridiculousness of politics at present, Eagle's leadership bid has already been upstaged twice, both times by the Tories (inadvertently). First, at the launch of her campaign (with graphics that many have noted looked very like those Alan Partridge has for his event at Linton Travel Tavern) she tried to address the assembled political journalists directly, only to discover that they'd all snuck out to cover Andrea Leadsom's withdrawal from the Tory leadership contest. Then, she was in the midst of mocking Boris Johnson when someone in the audience told her he'd just been named Foreign Secretary, which left her completely dumbfounded (as it did most of the nation, to be fair).

Hopefully she'll throw in the towel, PLP members will grudgingly accept the will of the wider Labour membership and Corbyn can get on with leading the party - but unfortunately it looks far more likely that the anti-Corbyn plotters will refuse to concede defeat and this civil war will rumble on and on, to the detriment of the party and the nation as a whole.

(Thanks to Tim for the Gary Younge link.)

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