As the anti-Semitism scandal within the Labour Party spins out of control, reaching new, ridiculous heights, palace intrigue appears to be rearing its head at long last. John McDonnell has tried to take the whole thing a lot more seriously in what appears to be an attempt to show leadership. Granted, it wouldn’t be difficult to demonstrate more leadership on the issue than Corbyn, but check out this quote from the shadow chancellor:
“The issue for me is that it’s upsetting but partly because you think how have we got ourselves in this situation.”
Admission of any guilt for this stuff by a figure of the Labour Left is unusual; the whole thing is supposed to be a “Blairite plot”, remember. This has led some to believe that McDonnell is on manoeuvres, looking to become leader himself in due course. Apart from the ambitions of the Rt Hon Member for Hayes and Harlington, some on the Left have wondered if Corbyn will emerge from this whole saga irreparably damaged, and thus in need of replacement by another fellow traveller.
The Labour Left getting rid of Corbyn could prove both difficult and incredibly risky. Few in their number understand just how much of the whole Corbyn phenomenon is a cult of personality – ironic given they themselves have been caught up in the very same cult of personality at one stage. I can see the logic: if the youth of today could fall in love with one groaning old Trot with the charisma of month old paper bag, why couldn’t they fall in love with John McDonnell? Maybe. Maybe. But also, maybe not. The point is, you have to dispel the cult of personality in order to replace Corbyn, and the whole edifice could come crumbling down at that point.
And what if old grouchy pants from the allotment digs his heels in? Does the Labour Left really want a messy battle with its own Christ figure? Beyond that, they themselves have made it almost impossible to depose a leader of the Labour Party now, another rich irony in all of this. None of this is surprising, incidentally: the Left always creates structures that destroy what they want to achieve, at least eventually.
So, what happens next? Probably not much. Corbyn isn’t going anywhere in a hurry, I reckon, no matter how much this anti-Semitism story spins on and on and on and on. Even if Labour started to sink in the polls, which probably won’t happen unless there is a split in the party, I doubt anyone could do anything. Corbyn will be leader of the Labour Party until he no longer wants the job.