Owen Jones wrote a piece in the Guardian late last week, the title of which made me laugh out loud the moment I read it. “Jeremy Corbyn is in the Labour leadership race. The real debate starts here.” To be fair to Owen, I get what he was trying to say; it was only so funny because a). it kind of read like an Owen Jones parody article and b). as such, it was typical of the left of Labour’s ideological and political naivety. Having said as much, I will now say I think it is actually very strange that this should be the case, and here’s why.
Jeremy Corbyn has no chance of being the next Labour leader. In fact, the real question surrounding Jeremy’s rather bold hat-throwing exercise is whether or not he is able to gain the 35 MP nominations to even run properly. My guess is no, but perhaps I’m being overly cynical here. And now here’s the thing: the trade unions should hang their heads in shame should he not secure the necessary support from the PLP.
Jeremy’s Corbyn’s politics are really, really not my mine, not by some ways. But in theory, they marry up with both the unions’ rhetoric and the stated aims of the Labour Party perfectly. Corbyn is a true democratic socialist, no bullshit added. In Jeremy’s spiel there is no splitting the difference style triangulation – he really means it when he talks about socialism being the way forward. Like I say, as a liberal that’s not my bag at all, but given Unite in particular’s stated preference for such an outlook, why wouldn’t they back Corbyn to the hilt? He’s as close to being their ideological soulmate as humanly possible, at least should you give due diligence to their soundings off, so why wouldn’t they, particularly given they seem to want to steer Labour leftwards, back Corbyn completely? Isn’t a guy who truly believes in this stuff better than a slightly tainted ex-Blairite minister whose had a Damascene conversion to the left, who even a jaded Lib Dem can see isn’t very good?
Here’s my advice to Labour: either pick Liz Kendall as your next leader and go with someone who has a chance of winning the next goddamn election, however remote that seems now. Or go with Corbyn, who McDonnell backs, and is clearly, in an unadulterated way, representative of your desired bout with purism. This is why Burnham will be so bad in a nutshell: he represents neither side of the equation, and will not settle any of the arguments between the warring factions. Jesus, guys, if you’re going to lose the next election, at least have fun in the meantime, going with the guy who embodies exactly what you really think and believe – on this, for once, I actually agree with Owen Jones on something. Because if you get another candidate that simply tries to thread the needle badly, what has Labour gained? What has the trade union movement gained? I despair. As a non-Labourite, I shouldn’t expend this energy, but I do.