Things ain’t what they seem, Comrade

Things are very rarely the way they seem from the outside. ‘What things?’

‘All kinds’, I might reply with equal brevity, ‘But especially the Labour Party’. I joined it over a year ago in a bid to support Jeremy Corbyn.

Here at last was a politician I could believe in. Someone who didn’t abstain when asked to vote on the government’s controversial Welfare Bill. Someone who isn’t a warmonger. A voice of reason in a thoroughly unreasonable world. A good man in a bad land.

I naively thought my move would be met with a flurry of fanfares and comradely embraces. ‘Welcome to the fold, brother! It took you many years but you’ve finally found your home.’

How wrong could I possibly be?

Very, it seems. Especially on Twitter. ‘Entryist!’ howled a formidable Greek chorus of existing comrades, behaving as if I’d stolen their favourite sofa cushion and torched it in front of them. ‘Leftard. Trot! Idiot!’ yelled libertarians from over the pond. Charming, but what business is it of theirs?

Hopes of comradely joy were further quashed by toxic Blairites hoping to oust Mr Corbyn at all costs. This, we’re assured by both the PLP and the ‘Daily Mail’ (strange bedfellows) is because he’s unelectable. Both want to create a self-fulfilling prophesy to suit themselves. They may as well be on the same side.

While it’s true that many loyal socialists shelter under the lofty eaves of Labour’s broad church it’s apparent that the PLP is intellectually challenged. The Tories are behaving like oafs in office. Theresa May grabbed power by standing back and letting the other candidates self-destruct. A once United Kingdom looks more like the Disunited Kingdom on a daily basis.

The PLP’s response is to launch a bitter, explicitly public internecine war, openly disregarding the wishes of ordinary members. We voted for Jeremy Corbyn, and either the Labour Party is democratic, and represents people like you and me, or it does not. If it wants to reinvent itself as a club for the benefit of a chosen few, then it should at least be honest about that and go ahead.

Too many people living in the Disunited Kingdom find themselves disenfranchised. I, for example, have always thought of myself as a progressive, left-of-centre socialist. Apparently, in the context of modern Britain I’m a foaming Trotskyite. How insulting. And how utterly wrong.

If the Labour Party was a person, you’d accuse her of gross hypocrisy. ‘You claim to be something you’re not and expect no-one to notice, but we can see right through you.’ If the Labour Party was a ship, you might take to sleeping in one of its big red lifeboats and pray it doesn’t leak. Nothing is guaranteed these days, apart from treachery.

Not for the first time in my life I’ve been cut adrift by one of the few things that seemed worth trusting. I certainly trust Jeremy Corbyn, but I’m learning to dislike the Labour Party, and it’s unwise to alienate the very people who have your best interests at heart. They might learn to bite back.


Remembering Jo Cox

Photos taken at the memorial site for Jo Cox MP at Parliament Square in London.

Photos taken at the memorial site for Jo Cox MP at Parliament Square in London.

Remembering where you were when some dreadful event happened is almost a cliche. I was in bed when I heard about John Lennon’s assassination, and with hindsight the mundane details of one’s life often throw such things into terrible relief.

I was watching England play Wales in Euro 2016 when I heard about the attack on Jo Cox. I didn’t know who she was or which political party she belonged to. A friend of mine seemed glued to her phone and all she said was, ‘Jo Cox has been stabbed’. I shifted uneasily in my chair thinking, ‘This can wait until later’. Avoiding emotional overload seemed important, and I reinforced my jaded view by sluggishly eating yet another slice of pizza and moaning about professional fouls.

But later as the day unfolded and England’s football hopes got brighter, the full horror of the attack on Jo struck home. This was a very public murder, and an affront to our assumptions about the stability of modern Britain. In a way, it was an assault on our collective right to simply go about our business and be ourselves.

Inevitably, Jo and her family were dragged into the so-called Brexit debate, and people were accused of making political capital out of it. But nothing happens in isolation, and the Leave campaign rapidly escalated a toxic narrative, fracturing deep fault lines across an already disgruntled nation.

Suddenly, the far right, rudderless and disorganised for so long, has been re-energised. We could argue all day about whether or not Jo’s assailant is mentally ill or not but unquestionably, he set out to deliberately destroy an innocent women because of her ideology. Hers, a dialogue of inclusiveness, hope and love. His, a diatribe of Nazi inspired hatred and blind destruction.

The fog of war stirred up by Brexit obscured the dreadful reality of Jo’s assassination. Britain is a divided nation now, factionalised by different belief systems. Rich against poor, In against Out, Right against Left. The gates of Hell are wide open, and a gaggle of foolish Etonians are responsible for pranking open the lock while neatly allocating blame elsewhere. Responsible adults who dare to point out the error of such a move are labelled ‘negative’ or ‘doom-laden’, but we are only speaking the truth. Truth is always the unspoken casualty of conflict, but Britain’s media is no longer capable of suppressing what is blindingly obvious to any thinking person. We have all been royally conned.

We now face the break up of the United Kingdom, fiscal ruin, job losses and the looming possibility of another global recession. As individuals we are shocked by Jo’s death, but collectively we have learned precisely nothing. This is a time for unity and bold decisions but there is no-one in office capable of making it happen. We owe a good woman no less.