You can always rely on the Parliamentary Labour Party. You can rely on it to abstain when the Tories are attacking the poor and the disabled. You can rely on it to troop into the same lobby as the Tories when Trident is being renewed or the country is going into another war of dubious legality. And you can rely on it to turn on itself in a bout of vicious in-fighting during a time of national emergency, giving the Tories a clear run at power for the next decade and a half. Thank all the gods that the working classes have the Labour party eh? How’s that British Parliamentary road to socialism working out for you?
Over the past few weeks, the Tory party has imploded, the Prime Minister has resigned, George Osborne has folded the towel on his leadership plans, and Boris Johnson’s had a stick stuck in the spoke of his bicycle. There’s no effective government, no one in the Tory party has the foggiest idea on how to plan for the Brexit other than hope fervently that it will all go away, and have decided instead to occupy themselves in a leadership contest between a nasty right wing authoritarian with no respect for civil liberties who goes to a Tory conference and repeats UKIP lies about migrants who can’t be deported because they’ve got a cat, and a nasty right wing authoritarian with no respect for civil liberties and who takes liberties in her CV writing. But she’s a mother, so that’s OK then.
You’d imagine that any official opposition worth the wee bag of salt in a packet of crisps would seize the opportunity to hammer the Tories. You’d think that they’d use the weakness and disarray of the Conservatives to give them the opportunity to put forward an alternative to austerity, to neoliberalism, and to the ugly xenophobia that won the Brexit vote. You’d think that an official opposition would strive to create unity and ensure that EU citizens living in the UK know that they are safe and welcome. But no, this is the moment that the professional politicians of the Parliamentary Labour Party think is the ideal time to settle their scores with Jeremy Corbyn. There you have it, proof that a packet of crisps would make a more effective opposition than the Labour party.
It seems that we are doomed to repeat the 1980s, only this time without the punk, ska, and new romantic bands. Back in the 80s Labour’s right was so consumed with its hatred for Labour’s left that it split the party, flounced off to form the SDP who later merged with the old Liberals to form the Lib Dems, and created a divided opposition to Thatcher that allowed her and the rest of the Tory party to handbag the nation for a decade and a half. Once again Labour’s right runs the serious risk of splitting the party and giving Britain the prospect of Theresa May or Andrea Leadsom in power until 2030. So thanks for that.
Some within Labour are reportedly in secret talks with some of the Remain factions of the Tory party, hoping to form a new ‘centrist’ party, a sort of Frankenstein’s monster party. It’s probably going to be called the Labouratory party, because it will be an artificial creation concocted out of dead parts. Or they might decide to adopt the recent plaintive call for federalism as the last gasp attempt to stop Scottish independence and call themselves the Federal UK Unity Party, because they’re a bit of a FUKUP.
In order to get rid of Corbyn, the plotters are hoping that Angela Eagle’s candidacy will be unopposed. They’re hoping that they can pauchle the party rule book in order to insist that Corbyn must gain the support of at least 51 of the party’s Westminster and EU parliamentary contingent in order to stand again in a leadership contest. Corbyn’s supporters claim that this provision only applies to challengers, not to incumbents, and point to the fact that Corbyn was elected by a large majority of ordinary party members not a year ago. So the question is, is the Parliamentary Labour Party the servant of the Labour movement, or is the Labour movement the servant of the Parliamentary Labour Party? It’s pretty clear that Labour’s Parliamentarians think that the entire purpose of the Labour movement is to keep them in a job.
So either the plotters will manage to ensure that Corbyn is kept off the ballot, and the party membership will rebel and split. Or Corbyn will be on the ballot and will win the support of the party grassroots again, and the Parliamentary Party will rebel and split. There remains the outside chance that Corbyn will stand in a leadership contest and lose, but most serious observers of the party think that’s about as likely to happen as Theresa May voting for Andrea Leadsom in the Tory leadership contest. Whatever happens, Labour is in for a bitter and divided few months, and at the end of it may not even survive as a single party.
While all this is going on, the sword of Brexit hangs over the country’s head, which sounds like an episode of Game of Thrones. And probably it will likewise include emasculation, downtrodden masses, and oppression. But Labour doesn’t care about that, it has far more important things to consider, like finding a leadership perch for the Eagle that’s stranded. The parliamentary party is deeply upset that Jeremy isn’t playing ball, he should have stood down quietly when they told him to. And then they could get on with the serious business of abstaining whenever the Tories wanted to beat up on benefits claimants, and supporting them when they want to renew Trident and go to war with some country that your average Labour MP couldn’t find on a map. That’s what real government is all about in the Disunited Kingdom.
Real government is about answering to the will of the people. Real government is putting the interests of the country before the interests of the party. Real government is about politicians being accountable to those who elect them. We don’t have real government in the UK and we never will. All Labour’s infighting tells us is that Britain is facing a future in which the Tories will be allowed to reign supreme, and that’s a Britain which has no place for Scotland. Our only option is to become independent, then and only then, we might have a place for proper left wing politics.
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