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.