We live in surreal political times. On Friday, the Cabinet of HM government will meet at Chequers to furiously debate different post-Brexit customs arrangements, all of which have already been rejected by the EU. The political press doesn’t seem able to comment on this, for whatever reason, and is instead entirely focused on the dreary internal soap opera involved. The leader of the opposition, presented with this yawning open goal to score at PMQs on this count, decided instead to ask six questions about buses. The Guardian, becoming more of a parody of itself every week, declared it all a wonderful victory for Jeremy Corbyn, despite the fact that he can’t seem to get Labour ahead in the national polls despite the government falling apart in front of our collective eyes.
Speaking of Corbyn, the one thing I agree with his fervent followers about is the need for them to deselect and purge their party of its moderates. Without doing so, Corbyn has no hope of getting his real agenda through parliament, and no way to get around parliament either. Unless he changes his parliamentary party, even if Labour gets a decent majority somehow, he will be prime minister in name only given the current makeup of his party.
Imagine a Labour government with Corbyn at its head. There would be pressure on Brexit that is hard to predict now given we don’t know how the next year or so will go in that regard, but would definitely be an issue whatever happens. How would Corbyn be able to force through a version of socialism in one country when most of his MPs want to remain in the single market? Those are completely incompatible goals, completely opposite views of how a centre-left party should govern. What happens when nationalisation turns out to be ruinously expensive? He’d never get that past the current PLP. And this is all imagining Labour with a majority. What if they need the SNP to sign things off? What if they need the Lib Dems as well? This only multiplies this problem, and requires even more of the PLP to be obedient or at the very least highly sympathetic to Corbyn’s agenda.
Corbyn and those around him as well as those cheerleading for the Labour leader in the left-wing media, Paul Mason being chief amongst them, have made their goal pretty clear: it is to use the Labour Party as a tool to create a particular kind of society and to effectively destroy the Labour Party in the process. The Labour Party was created as a way for different, genuinely oppressed groups of people in society to come together under a political banner and gain political representation in the House of Commons. Corbyn et al want to deconstruct it and turn it into a mere political movement. That is their stated goal, to repeat; I am not inferring anything here, nor am I putting words in people’s mouths.
If Corbyn wants to deconstruct the Labour Party from what it historically has been into a far-left social movement in a way from which there is no way back, he cannot do it with the current PLP in place. That appears to me to be a basic fact which there is no way around.
I think matters are in hand. From what I’ve heard, even in my safe Tory seat the CLP has been infiltrated by a Momentum group who have just elected each other to all the committee posts.
I dread to think what it’s like in actual target seats.
(Must admit I was slightly confused by the headline. Given that among his ‘stated goals’ is the goal to ‘purge the Labour party of moderates’…)
paul barker says
The problem with a Purge of MPs is that it creates the basis for a New Party, something those MPs dont have the guts to create themselves. It could be that The Left are playing a longer game, slowly wearing their opponents down so that just give up in the end & drift away from Politics altogether.
Now that The Left control the machiniery of the Party, Time is on their side.
The problem with a Purge of MPs is that it creates the basis for a New Party
Do you think they care? Remember, their thesis is that the only reason Labour ever loses elections is that it’s not blood-red socialist enough. In their little world, the British electorate is crying out for a proper Venezuela-style socialist party. Why would they ever be worried about people voting for a Milquetoast New Party candidate when there’s a Momentum candidate who sings The Red Flag at the drop of a flat-cap available?
Phil Beesley says
Who are “they”?
‘They’ are the Momentum activists who would be doing the purging by joining CLPs and forcing reselection votes.
Phil Beesley says
I have two images of Momentum activists in my mind, so there is more than one “they”.
There are the youthful idealists, the sort who join in a chant at Glastonbury. And then there are the cynical entrists who joined from from the far left and who will push the idealists until idealists realise that they are being manipulated.
Paul W says
“The Labour Party was created as a way for different, genuinely oppressed groups of people in society to come together under a political banner and gain political representation in the House of Commons.”
Well, not quite Nick. The Labour party was created to advance the political representation and interests of ordinary working class people and trade unionists – that sort of thing – who were inadequately served by the existing ‘bourgeois’ parties.
But allied to the Labour project, there were always supporters from the progressive middle classes, socialist intellectuals and fellow travellers – you know, the sort who take their cookery from Paris and opinions from Moscow. This group now seems to be in the ascendent. I don’t think it will end well for Labour, but much depends on how the other parties respond to an opening gap in the political market – especially the Conservative party.
Paul W says
NB Or even ‘in the ascendant.’
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