I’ve been reading a great deal about the malaise currently afflicting the Her Majesty’s opposition. Not being a member of the party or an ardent Labour supporter I’ve been watching events from the outside, detached from the hysteria that seems to have gripped so many Labour people who either passionately support the relatively new leadership or are ardently against Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circle and the Momentum activists at the grassroots.
I’ve heard a lot of fighting talk from those Labour members and MPs against the change of direction taken by the new leadership. One particularly memorable comment came from rookie MP Ruth Smeeth at Labour conference, she spoke in the context of receiving thousands of hate messages many of them antisemitic;
“If I after the last few months am staying to fight in the party, then so are every single one of you,” she said. “We are going to make the party a safe space for Jews if it bloody kills me, no matter what they say and even if they try. This is our party. The Jewish community helped build this party.”
She’s wrong though if she thinks that staying in the party somehow means “fighting” it does not. In fact this equation is something that we have seen too much of and it’s a nonsense;
Staying in Labour = fighting the hard left
Leaving the party = abandoning the fight.
This binary simply isn’t true and represents a fiction too many labour party members are buying into.
The truth is that the Labour Party is already a reflection of its leadership and its membership. To stay in order to change it is to ignore the fact that those who wish the party to be something other than a hard left, socialist vehicle are a minority, yesterday’s news.
If there are people in the party who want to be a part of a social democratic party (dare I say movement?) then they’re going to need to go and find one because that’s not what the Labour Party is anymore. Fighting in this context is the opposite, acquiescing. The more Ruth Smeeths remain in the party the more people there are for Corbyn et al to use as cover, the more Jews that remain the stronger the argument that antisemitism isn’t that bad, the more social democrats remain the softer the hard left socialism appears come election time.
By staying Ruth is going to campaign for a man she doesn’t believe is fit to be Prime Minister and for the implementation of policies she doesn’t believe should be implemented. The same can be said for members of the Jewish Labour Movement who have been strident in their criticism of certain Labour MPs, the very same MPs they are going to have to go out and campaign for in the future. It just doesn’t make any sense.
Far more effective are those former members who cut up their membership cards and posted pictures of them on social media. Doing so shows that there are some people taking a moral stand. It is not the only form of fighting that can be done, Labour MPs don’t have to represent this party if they disagree so strongly with the new order, Labour grassroots campaigners and long term members now have an opportunity to form a new party, one they feel represents them and their views.
I am sure there are many who say such a party wouldn’t have a chance. Maybe they wouldn’t but this is democracy, they may be surprised by the amount of support they get. If they get none at least they’ll know they acted according to their principles.
The thing is it’s not an issue over whether Labour have a chance of getting elected, it’s that if Labour actually were elected those who opted to stay and fight will be the most distressed. It won’t be their Labour Party that is elected, that party is surely long gone now. Those who remain aren’t there for a fight, they’re attempting to bring back a corpse back to life. They should leave.