Death of a Party

“Oh, plenty of hope, an infinite amount of hope – but not for us.”

Franz Kafka

I had almost an entire piece written about the Labour Party…. but it depressed me too much so I deleted it. There has been so much analysis of the issues confronting us that I don’t think it helps me writing my own take – which is normally my way of trying to come to terms with a situation.

I write this as a Labour member, a party I joined without huge expectations after the general election, but the reality has been so much worse. I’ve always considered myself to the left of what has been the standard Labour position during my years eligible to vote. In theory I should have been pleased that Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership election last year, but I was very worried.

Corbyn represents a strand of left wing politics that has got into bed with some fairly horrific regimes, as well as (despite what they try and deny) having a strong record of anti-Semitism. He also, as far as I can tell, doesn’t actually seem to be for anything. Some very clever people have written some very convincing arguments about why we should support Corbyn, but most of it boils down to people projecting their own thoughts and theories onto Corbyn. He does not necessarily stand for those ideals himself.

When Corbyn does talk on policy matters, EU membership, Trident, ending tax relief on pharmaceutical companies research, he comes across as unconvincing, and lacking any real understanding of how the world works. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Corbyn has marketed himself as an antidote to “career politicians”, which is impressively as that is exactly what he is. It is just that the causes that he has been interested in and worked towards over the last 32 years have tended to be on the margins of British political life. It is why he is comfortable talking to people who agree with him, but he is utterly hopeless when confronted with those who do not share his own viewpoint. Unfortunately for him, the job of opposition leader is not to bask in the adoration of the devoted, but to win round the couple of million people Labour needs in order to win the next election. Not only does he not seem able to do this, he doesn’t seem particularly interested in trying.

Doubtless Corbyn will win the next election and will lead Labour to a record breaking defeat at the next general election. If I was Theresa May I would call a general election the day after the Labour leadership results are announced. However, even if Owen Smith does somehow beat Corbyn and become Labour leader I don’t see how he can win a general election either. There will doubtless be a huge fall-out with the membership which will have a big impact on finances. He has tacked left in his leadership pitch so far, but doing so will make our rabidly right wing press attack him with a fervour that will their treatment of Ed Miliband seem benign. There will also be the fact that, that the core Corbyn supporters will see him as a traitor and will be unlikely to vote for him, despite the fact that at the moment there seems to be little difference in policy platform between Smith and Corbyn.

In conclusion, I can only see a hideous shit show. The right wing will continue to rise, increased nationalism will lead to another war, and if the USA elect Trump, well, all bets are off. There are lots of people doing good work in the world, trying to make it a better place. I hope that their example will shine through, but it won’t be enough over the next few years. Time to learn how to grow your own food and brew your own beer.