13 Days Remaining

Thursday 1st
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

JEREMY CORBYN’S speech to the Blairites of Progress called for party unity in “the fundamental determination to challenge the economic strategy of this government.”
It is to be hoped MPs will heed this call.
Ever since his election to the leadership looked probable the MP for Islington North has been told he has to listen and learn from a right wing of the party which shows no inclination to treat its critics with the same respect.
While the campaign was still running Caroline Flint made an (unsuccessful) pitch for the deputy leadership on the basis that she would teach Corbyn “Blairite lessons,” as if the party leader should take orders from their deputy rather than the other way around.
Within days of the result Dan Jarvis was imploring him to “reach out” to Blairites who had just waged a hysterical campaign against his leadership, wheeling out every former Cabinet has-been in the phone book to warn of apocalypse if he were to win.
After this month’s local elections it was the same, with critics telling the Labour leader he had to address the concerns of “disgruntled” MPs, some of whom had helped stir up a baseless anti-semitism scandal with a week to go before the vote in what looked like deliberate sabotage.
And at every stage Corbyn has reached out. His shadow cabinet gathered MPs from every wing of the party, even a former flatmate of Tony Blair’s.
He has not attempted to impose his views at any stage, even where many of his supporters — this newspaper included — might have wanted him to.
The Blairites got their free vote on war against Syria, a favour they insist Corbyn cannot return to those Labour MPs who disagree with the party’s campaign to remain in the European Union.
An issue that Corbyn has campaigned on for decades, nuclear disarmament, has been passed for consideration to a wide-ranging defence review with no foregone conclusions.
But the backbiting and carping hasn’t stopped. And some of those most insistent that Corbyn can never win an election clearly hope this will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Corbyn’s speech to Progress was not followed with the barrage of hostile briefings we have come to expect, though anonymous critics sighed over a “missed opportunity” to win the secretive, plutocrat-funded “party within a party” round.
How he was supposed to have done this wasn’t explained. But it would probably involve repudiating his entire record and the socialist project Labour members gave him an overwhelming mandate to implement eight months ago.
It is to his credit that he stuck to that theme at the weekend, slamming a decades-old economic narrative that insists on “rolling back the state, privatising services, cutting provision and making the next generation worse off.”
Corbyn’s enemies claim he is out of touch with modern Britain, and especially modern England: a new book edited by Tristram Hunt, Labour’s Identity Crisis, claims to look at how the party has lost the support of its traditional supporters by being insufficiently English.
But Corbyn, who fought the destruction of Britain’s manufacturing industries, who never bought the City-knows-best bullshit that left our economy at the mercy of reckless bankers and has helped impoverish the regions, didn’t run the party when it lost these “traditional supporters,” five million all-told between 1997 and 2010. It was Hunt’s hero Blair who did that.
Labour has always been a big tent. Despite hysterical claims to the contrary, Corbyn has shown no inclination to change that.
His Progress critics should show some humility, and acknowledge that Labour’s struggle to enthuse voters might have something to do with their many years at the helm.