LOYAL TILL I DIE.
Perhaps fate has helped decide that Labour’s most dramatic conference in years should be held in Liverpool. The city will always be associated with the last time the party was under attack by Trotskyists with intimidation replacing reasoned debate at party meetings.
Liverpool,as a city, has been transformed since the 1980s so let’s hope television reporters don’t use too much sepia footage of the Militant rallies outside the Town Hall. The city is run by a moderate mayor with mostly moderate MPs, but they have faced party meetings where the old bullying tactics have returned along with the new phenomenon of anti-semitism.
The leader Jeremy Corbyn is probably unaware of much of this. The dirty work is done by people in his name. Corbyn points to the huge increase in Labour’s membership. In isolation it is a great achievement to have become the largest political party in Europe.But how many of them are caught up in a Corbyn fan cult unaware of the Trotskist plotting and unwilling to do the spade work alongside established members to get Labour elected?
In this year of uncertainty we have to allow the possibility of an Owen Smith victory, but let us consider the consequences of Corbyn winning again.
I have spent the summer talking to some of the 170 Labour MPs who voted no confidence in Corbyn, to see if there was an appetite for a split to form a new Social Democrat Party. I would be surprised if that happens. It is more likely that they will stay until many are deselected Labour during the boundary changes. Others will be defeated in the 2020 Conservative General Election victory.
Why is this when the need is for a centre left party embracing Lib Dems, Greens and Labour moderates to fight for Britain’s place in the European Union, social justice and responsible capitalism? One MP told me that when it came down to it, he was damned if he was going to let the Trots force him out of his party. I can respect this. It is easy for a journalist to move the pieces around the chess board of politics and not take account of the deep allegiances that MPs have to their party. I would only ask him and others to look at the bigger picture as the Tories career on with their Brexit madness, social unfairness and cuts.
PEOPLE MUST VOTE ON THE BREXIT PACKAGE.
How good it was to see Lib Dem delegates waving the EU flag at their conference in Brighton. They are the most pro European of the political parties and on my visit to the seaside I found them devastated by the referendum result but with a determination to fight it in a responsible way.
It would be reckless for a party with Democrats in the title to defy the Brexit vote, but they are right to demand that whatever deal is cooked up by the Three Unwise Men (Fox, Davis and Boris) must be put to the British people. They can then decide between the known reality of the EU or the Brexit deal. In the summer they chose between the EU and promises of £350m a week for the NHS and the prospect of 80 million Turks coming to stay.
Alongside Brexit the talk in Brighton was of centre left cooperation but I found it pretty unconvincing. Ex Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown was pushing his More United project. He says it isn’t a political party, more a movement. That won’t butter any politcal parsnips.
Then we had two of the most impressive women in politics, Green co-leader Caroline Lucas and Wigan Labour MP Lisa Nandy, telling a fringe meeting how much they had in common. But how could that be given politcal expression? The only idea to emerge was to find constituencies where the Greens, Labour and the Lib Dems could decide to field one strong candidate and 2 “paper” ones. Such manoeuvers insult the voters intelligence. If you stand you should always want to win.
What is required is action from the leadership of the Greens and Lib Dems along with Labour moderates to form an election pact, anything else is just meaningless hand wringing.
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