Illness update and thoughts on the new Labour leader

April 5, 2020

by Martin Odoni

First off, thanks to those who left me nice messages of support last month when I fell ill with the CoVid19 fever. I am happy to report that I have more-or-less recovered now. I am one of the lucky ones, in that my case was relatively mild, even if it has been maddeningly persistent. I am no longer showing most of the symptoms, apart from a lingering cough, and I do not think my lungs have suffered any lasting damage. Sadly, with all indicators suggesting that the pandemic is out-of-control across the country and poised to be even worse than the disaster in Spain, I fear my case should not be seen as the ‘standard’ example.

So. Keir Starmer is the new leader of the Labour Party. I cannot hide my despair at how many Labour members did not seem to realise that they were voting for a man on the right of the party, or indeed that his foolish insistence on pushing for a Remain platform was effectively the blunder that cost Labour the General Election in December. Almost all the Leave-supporting heartlands in the north, “The Red Wall” usually unchallengeable in their support for Labour, fell, due to the perception that Labour was trying to reverse the 2016 Brexit referendum. Now, some 270,000 Labour members have come around to the idea that the man who aggressively seeks to reverse Brexit is the leader to win back all those lost pro-Brexit voters?

As I say, I despair.

The signs within the party are not good at all for the left. There are clear moves afoot to start yet another unscrupulous purge of the membership, even of leftists who chose to support Starmer. It seems, just as the electorate in the country were turkeys-voting-for-Christmas-dinner back in the winter, so too are the much narrower electorate within the Labour Party. Starmer was quick to use the, now-very-worn, pretext of semi-fictitious “anti-Semitism-in-the-Labour-Party” in his opening speech yesterday, which means once again it is Open Season on victims of false accusations.

Anime Corbyn supporters Hiding From a Terminator called Starmer

“What have we done?”

As I have been saying about Boris Johnson over the last few weeks with his appalling mishandling of the CoVid19 pandemic, I also say now about Starmer; “Don’t come whining to me when you’re purged. You guys wanted him. I didn’t.

The hypocrisy of the anti-Corbynites in the Parliamentary Labour Party is only underlined by their obnoxious celebrations. Their relentless, cruel kicking of Corbyn when he is down on social media has been as thoroughly nauseating to observe as it has been unnecessary. It suggests a really juvenile insecurity among their number. But also, if we think back to four-to-five years ago, when Corbyn first became leader, we have to recall the arguments the Labour Right were raising against him; –

“He’s such a dull speaker… he’s so uncharismatic… he doesn’t have any fire or inspiration” etc. To be honest, I find those descriptions rather appropriately apply to Keir Starmer, whom I find to be one of the most monotonous speakers in the House Of Commons, as well as yet another ‘Blair-clone’ in both appearance and rhetoric.

There was also the curious objection that a few self-proclaimed ‘feminist writers’ in the Guardian were raising over and over, that Corbyn should not have been made leader because it was time for Labour to have a female leader. If that were the case back in 2015, surely five years on that need is even more urgent, right?

And yet, checking the columns on the Guardian website this morning, the likes of Suzanne Moore and Anne Perkins, so vocal in 2015-16, appear to have no pressing thoughts on the change of Labour leadership at all. How bizarre.

All those women writing in 2015 that it was time for a female Labour leader are oddly quiet today

The leftist candidate this year was one of the women. Surely Suzanne Moore got behind Rebecca Long-Bailey then? No? Oh, how strange…

Could it be because, this time, the leading female candidate was Rebecca Long-Bailey, who was also the farthest-left candidate? Surely the likes of Moore would not let their economic views interfere with their feminist principles? No, of course they would not…

Pardon? Er, yes, I am scratching my chin at the moment. The cause is purely an itch, nothing more.

Other bad news is that the National Executive Committee of the party is now firmly back in the grip of the centrists, paving the way for them to reverse the democratisation reforms the left had managed to impose over the previous few years.

Oh well, it looks like the door that was opened with Corbyn’s election is closed again. There have been three great civil wars in the Labour Party. The first was a bruising battle between the centrists, headed up by Hugh Gaitskell, and the left, in the form of the Trade Union leadership, in the 1950s. That war proved fairly indecisive, and ended with Gaitskell’s death through illness, and the emergence of Harold Wilson as a new compromise leader who was on neither wing of the party.

The second civil war was in the 1980s, and fought between the centrists, headed up by Denis Healey and Neil Kinnock, and the left, headed by Tony Benn. The centrists won through a campaign of grotesque dishonesty and Conservative-like ruthlessness.

Now, the Third Great Civil War Of The Labour Party has also been won by the centrists. Again, not because they are ‘in-the-right’ – they are not – but because they are always willing to fight dirtier and far more ruthlessly than the left.

Like Benn before him, Corbyn’s failing was always that he was not capable of the kind of ruthlessness that was bound to be necessary in a Parliamentary Party dominated by his opponents. For the left to succeed in future, it seems it will need a new leader who has Benn’s and Corbyn’s steadfast principles, but who also can accept when sword-and-cannon are required.

4 Responses to “Illness update and thoughts on the new Labour leader”

  1. Florence Says:

    If anyone on the left shows the least bit of back bone and resilience we get called Stalinists, usually by our very own. Oh the irony

  2. Mr. Magoo Says:

    No leaders;
    No social classes;
    No sovereign states;
    No money;
    Production & distribution to meet needs;
    Sustainable development;
    Truly democratic social organisation.

    Workers of the world unite for Socialism! You have nothing to lose but your chains and a world to win.

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