I’m sorry to hear that some of the MPs who have turned on Jeremy Corbyn these last few days have been crying. Angela Eagle looks weepy every time she appears on tele, and now Margaret Beckett has cried on air It’s sad, but then there has been a lot of sadness and tears these last few days. Not amongst the Leavers of course, many of whom have been crowing about a victory that I suspect will turn out to turn more bitter than many of them suspected.
As we now know to our horror, some of them have been out in the streets, gleefully terrorizing anyone who doesn’t talk like them or look like them. Naturally there are no tears or even the slightest sign of remorse from the sinister Bullingdon Club wreckers, who have smashed up the country as comprehensively as they once smashed up pubs and restaurants in their salad days. This time daddy won’t be able to pay for the damage, but it’s still worth a giggle and a smirk.
The sociopathic monstrosity Boris Johnson can’t stop grinning, like a naughty little boy who’s just burned down the summerhouse and shot one of the servants with daddy’s hunting rifle but knows that mummy loves him anyway and will always pat his tousled hair because hey, it’s just Boris being Boris, right?
And Sarah Vine, Michael Gove’s Lady MacBeth wife, is having a laugh too, telling her husband ‘ you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.’ So it’s all a bit of fun really.
And let’s not forget Lord Snooty, the arrogant, cackhanded toff who has turned the country into the Little Shop of Horrors with a casual and feckless disregard for the consequences that will make him an object of absolute contempt and ridicule throughout the annals of political time. Even His Lordship had time for a chortle at Jeremy Corbyn’s expense when he and his pals came slinking back into their seats in the House of Commons on Monday, when he told Corbyn ‘ I thought I was having a bad day! ‘
What a card, eh? Real laughter in the dark. Confronted with such behavior it ought to be clear – though tragically it isn’t – that we are dealing with some of the basest, most useless and most dangerous collection of amoral, decadent incompetents and chancers ever to park their backsides on parliament’s hallowed leather seats. But they weren’t the only ones who’ve been laughing. On the same day that His Lordship was mocking Corbyn, dozens of Labour MPs were jeering, mocking and laughing at their own leader at the same time.
With a government on the ropes, staggering into the ring without a clue or a plan, and the country staring into a future that increasingly looks like an abyss, Labour MPs thought it would be a good idea to attack their own leader. Instead of rallying to Corbyn’s call for unity, they preferred to turn a national crisis into a political opportunity. Instead of assaulting the government that has brought about this disaster, they attacked their own leader like a gang of playground bullies.
In doing so they let Cameron & his cronies entirely off the massive hook that was dangling in front of them, and even recruited Cameron into their sordid campaign, to the point when this wretched fake could shout out in true Flashmanlike fashion ‘ For Heavens’ sake, man, go!’ when he and his cronies are the ones who should be long gone. Instead of responding to the national crisis, dozens of Labour MPs deliberately precipitated an internal crisis that will do nothing to help the country and will almost certainly destroy the Labour Party.
That is crass irresponsibility on the same grand scale as their opponents on the other side of the chamber. Now, after three days of staged and orchestrated resignations -worked out with their many friends in the media – after more stabs in the back than Julius Caesar received, after briefing, leaking, shouting and bullying, they aren’t laughing but crying – and they even have the temerity to present themselves as heroes.
Well please don’t tell me there is anything noble, heroic or well-meaning about this. Last summer Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party with a huge majority, that was partly prompted by a surge in new members, many of whom were young, idealistic and hopeful, appalled by Ed Miliband’s feeble campaigning, and desperate for a new kind of politics that was able to challenge and resist the destructive class war waged by the Tories – with the complicity of a Labour right wing that too often aped and copied them or offered up a softer version of the same thing.
Jeremy Corbyn, for better or worse, became the focus for these new aspirations. Ever since he has been subjected to a relentless and vicious campaign of defamation, contempt and vilification from within his own party and beyond, that makes what was done to Michael Foot back in the 80s seem like a children’s game at a soft play centre.
Meanwhile Corbyn was ridiculed, insulted, briefed against and raged at by his own MPs, the government staggered like an Etonian drunk on a pubcrawl from one blunder to the next, until it fell off the edge of the pier and took the country with it. Throughout this, Corbyn behaved with courage, dignity and principle – qualities that are almost entirely absent amongst the pitchfork mob that now surrounds him. Personally I think that Corbyn and his team have missed a number of opportunities to deliver some killer blows to this disreputable government. As a ‘left Remainer’ I think his campaign was ambivalent and lacklustre.
Nevertheless, to blame Corbyn for the referendum defeat is at best a huge distraction, and at worse a willful distortion that owes more to the priorities of the Blairite right than it does to any honest assessment of the long-term factors that brought about this self-inflicted catastrophe.
Labour was bleeding members and working-class votes for years before Corbyn was elected. The attitudes and ideas that made so many voters regard the referendum as a referendum on immigration were already deeply entrenched in British society. Do Corbyn’s enemies seriously believe that Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper or some polished smoothie like Chuka Umunna could have had an impact on them – or that it would have helped if Corbyn had appeared on a platform with Cameron and Alan I-used-to-be-a-postman Johnson?
Where was the rage of these Labour MPs when the politician they admired so much catapulted the country into a catastrophic war on false pretenses and went on to become a millionaire? Why didn’t they turn their anger and indignation on the government that has forced the sick and dying to work? Why didn’t they open their mouths to condemn Theresa May’s viciously discriminatory Immigration Act? Why did 184 of them refuse to vote against the Tories‘ Welfare Reform and Work Bill?
Too many of them did not oppose these things because they were too frightened and too concerned for their jobs and careers, or too ideologically-wedded to the essential premises of neoliberal austerity, to stand up and oppose them. Rather than find ways to respond to the leftist upsurge behind Corbynism possible and try and use that energy to turn the country round, they did everything they could to snuff it out, and turned their rage on Corbyn.
Now the battle is out in the open, and many people, including myself, have joined the Labour Party, not because we necessarily have complete faith in it or even in the Corbyn project, but because we are appalled and disgusted by what has been done to him, and because it is quite clear that the Labour right wing’s refusal to respond positively to the most promising leftwing movement in mainstream British politics in many years is part of a wider determination that goes beyond the Labour Party, to destroy and marginalize the left for years to come.
Personally, I doubt that the Labour Party can survive this If it splits then Corbyn will be blamed, regardless of whether the current divisions are a product of a longer-term collapse of Labourism, and the get-rich-quick politicians who have done so well from Blairism.
Somehow I doubt that Angela Eagle, Dan Jarvis, Simon Danczuk or whatever candidate they conjure up can change this. In a leadership contest, Corbyn will almost certainly win again, and the Labour Party will probably split. When that happens, perhaps a new progressive politics can emerge that can offer some real hope in these dark times.
God knows we need that. But in the short term, only the Tories will be laughing, thanks to the MPs on the other side of the chamber who were jeering and howling on Monday. Some of them might be crying now, but as Bob Dylan once sang, now ain’t the time for your tears.